Plateau no more with these great tips for powerlifters.
We’ve all been in the position of seeing progress, making huge strides in our training, when all of a sudden, that stubborn plateau strikes. It can be defeating and make us question what we did wrong. Despite having a well-rounded routine, and taking our supplementation and diet seriously, we still stalled out. For powerlifters, our main focus is one those big three exercises and knowing how to work around those and break a plateau can be a gamer changer for not only training, but also performance.
Let’s take a look at how to burst through these dreaded powerlifting plateaus so we have the best chance at seeing great growth. While we may stall out at times, it is absolutely possible to still see progress, it may just take a little time.
What Are Training Plateaus?
A plateau is essentially when your training stalls out and not much progress is seen. We’ve all had this happen before. Seeing great gains, putting up big weight, then suddenly- nothing. It can be defeating. We’ve all probably seen this with dieting too. You drop a bunch of weight initially then it starts to get slower and slower, and often times we just bounce back up to our starting weight. But the good news is, it is possible to break these plateaus, you just need the right approach (1).
Why Do They Happen?
Most likely, a training plateau happens because your body has adapted to the training you’re doing. That idea of muscle confusion is out the window because your muscles are so used to doing the same old workouts. Eventually, you will stop increasing in weight and once that happens, so to do your gains.
We need progression to see growth, and as powerlifters, the three big exercises are the exact same movement every single time. That’s why working with different and unique exercises, while mixing in other forms of training is absolutely essential in growing your muscles to where they need to be.
Best Ways For Powerlifters To Break Stubborn Plateaus
For powerlifters, those big three lifts being the squat, bench press, and deadlift can be challenging, especially if you get stuck and can’t break through a plateau. Let’s take a look at each of these exercises and give you the best advice on how to break those stubborn powerlifting plateaus.
Breaking A Bench Press Plateau
When it comes to the bench press, there are a number of things you can do to change this approach up. By reducing range of motion, you start to move the most weight you can in the least distance possible (2). Depending on your routine already, looking to change up your sets and reps to adjust the training volume can be great, while also mixing in something like pyramid training.
To get more niche, look to work your triceps, shoulders, and chest more broadly as this will provide for well-rounded development while also assisting with the main lift itself. We all love to bench and your PRs should reflect the way you train so don’t let a plateau ruin any chance of seeing those gains you want most.
Squashing That Squat Plateau
Squats are essential and as a main lower body exercise, you want to work to squash any of those dreaded squat plateaus. Similar to the bench press, work to decrease range of motion to move as much weight in as little distance as possible.
Increasing the volume can force your muscles to grow and working with assistance and accessory exercises will strengthen your larger muscles, as well as your smaller ones so you see those gains you absolutely want most. The nice part about the squat is there are many exercises that influence leg growth so your options for extra exercises are endless.
Demolishing Your Deadlift Plateau
The deadlift can be a real challenge and with many variations, it would seem like you could avoid a plateau. But that stubborn plateau can strike at any moment and these tips can work to demolish your dreaded deadlift disruption. Weak or tight muscles are an easy solution, and while it will take time to strengthen and loosen them up, the process of starting that is rather simple; take the time to work them and stretch.
Using specialty barbells will mix up your exercises and allow for alternative workouts to find their way into your routine. Playing with frequency and volume is also a great way to break a plateau and tempo lifts can keep your workout engaging (3).
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Plateaus can strike at any time but knowing what to do to fix it can be a game changer for your training and ultimately your performance. Powerlifters have a full plate with the bench press, squat, and deadlift, but it is absolutely possible to see great gains despite stalling out.
Knowing the tips and tricks to help get you there can make all the difference as you seek the best for your powerlifting goals. Next time you hit a plateau, give these tips a try for each respective exercise and see what happens. You may just end up bursting right through it.
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- Frontiers (2016). “Overcome strength-training plateau with accentuated eccentric loading”. (source)
- Schoenfeld, B.; et al. (2020). “Effects of range of motion on muscle development during resistance training interventions: A systematic review”. (source)
- Mangine, G.; et al. (2015). “The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men”. (source)