frustration workout new year's resolution fail epic fat weight training plateau workout weightlifting training health weightgain toningIf you’ve been making steady gains for a while in strength and size and have noticed that you’re at a point where no matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to be progressing in strength, you may have hit a strength plateau. This is very common, and happens to many lifters that have been lifting for a while (aka: no more newbie gains). One of the questions I find myself answering on a regular basis is:  How do I get past a bench press plateau?

The bench press can be considered to be one of the best compound movements that you can perform in the gym, and having a weak bench number can affect your ego. Come on, how many times have your friends started to notice your muscle gains and asked: “hey, how much can you bench?” It’s usually the first thing that people ask, and if you’ve been stuck at a measly 140lbs for a while, without any progress, it sucks.

I’ve been stuck at a bench press plateau before and I can tell you that it’s not fun. Week after week I would go into the gym to train chest, and some workouts I would put out more reps than others, and other workouts, I wouldn’t even come close to what I repped out the past workout, and it was damn frustrating to be lifting the same weight again and again without any improvements. So what can you do to bust through this strength plateau?

1) Do a different exercise

Well the first thing that you should do, is do a different exercise (relating to the muscle of course) or make slight changes. If you’ve been focused on going to the gym repeatedly to bust through your bench press plateau, and you’ve been pushing hard on the bench press, it’s time to give it up for a while. What you’re doing simply isn’t working. Now what do I mean by doing something different? Well instead of doing barbell bench press, you could swap to dumbbell bench presses for a while and work your way up from there, or even change it up and start performing the pressing movements on a decline or incline instead. Trust me, it works. When you get stronger with other chest exercises, your bench press strength will naturally increase as well.

2) Change up the sets and reps

If you’ve been focusing on performing lower reps, it’s time to lighten up the weight and start increasing the number of reps that you’re doing and maybe even the overall volume in your workouts. You may be wondering why you would lighten the weight when trying to achieve a higher bench press number and the reason is that you can still get stronger with lighter weights. As long as you can press a weight for more reps than you did the previous workout, you’re getting stronger. The key here is to create small changes that your body can adapt to and get stronger over time. You can even start changing the amount of rest that you’re getting in between sets.

These two tips that I just gave you not only will work for the bench press but for all lifts in the gym as well.  Your body is very good at adapting to exercises and rep ranges, and making the slightest bit of change to your work out routine can ensure that your body can keep adapting and grow stronger over time. See you in the next article!

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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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