Sticking Points

Seven routes to conquering strength plateaus.

ROUTE 6: Expand your range of motion

This may seem to contradict the previous approach. However, they both have a similar effect of altering your range of motion so that you’re stronger when you return to the original lift. This is akin to a baseball player warming up with a loaded bat, thus making his usual bat feel lighter when he swings it again. For the bench press, you can either use dumbbells or a cambered barbell to increase the stretch at the bottom. Don’t go heavy with a cambered bar, and don’t lower the middle portion all the way to your chest if your shoulders won’t comfortably allow it. The emphasis should be on a fuller range of motion than usual, not on maximum low reps.

ROUTE 7: Try tri-cycling

Another long-accepted powerlifting technique is cycling strength training so that reps get progressively lower and weights get progressively heavier over a period of weeks. For bench presses, divide the cycle into thirds. Start with 12- to 15-rep sets for the first three weeks, then go to eight- to 12-rep sets for the next three weeks, and finally pyramid up to five-to-seven-rep sets for the final three weeks. Always strive to use more weight or to get more reps with the same weight.


We used the bench press for our example, but all of these techniques can be utilized, with the possible exception of “Expand your range of motion,” to boost your strength for compound basics such as squats, deadlifts, bent rows and shoulder presses. You can sometimes use more than one technique simultaneously. The important thing is to give up the belief that greater effort applied to the same “go heavy or go home” workout is all you need. More of the same is not the answer; less of the same is. Be willing to take detours to avoid the roadblocks and reach your destination faster.




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