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Get Up and Grow With These 6 Plateau-Smashing Training Tips



Posted in: Articles by ProSource, Training Articles
By Michael Berg | Aug 6, 2007



When is the last time you experienced noticeable improvements to your body? If your progress has ground to a halt, these six powerful rut-busters -- including a complete three-month training program -- can get your gains back on track.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so goes the old adage. If that's the case, someone better back a truck up to the nearest gym and load up a majority of the inhabitants for a one-way trip to the loony bin.

While most of us wouldn't settle for a lack of results in other areas of our lives, for some reason, otherwise sane people will struggle along for months, even years on a training and nutrition regimen that hasn't produced appreciable physical changes in return. Why? Chalk it up to blind faith that eventually a breakthrough will happen, or perhaps a lack of introspection in noticing something's awry.

In any case, the first step is a brutally honest review of your current routine. Is it working? Are you being diligent and not skipping workouts or being otherwise inconsistent? Is your diet up to par? If the answers are no, yes, and yes, stick with us -- what follows are some proven methods for breaking out of a rut that you can use immediately. Because, as the wise also often espouse, "Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today."

1) Wipe The Slate Clean.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do at the gym is to give up on a training program we've been using for a long time. Sure, you might tweak it here and there, but steadfastly, you'll continue with an invariable pattern: The same bodypart split, exercises, sets and rep schemes. It's human nature to be a creature of habit. The problem is, our bodies are very versatile, and will quickly adapt to the same old workouts -- thus, your muscles stop responding, and you find yourself on an unwelcome plateau.

Savvy fitness buffs know how to tweak their training just enough from week to week and month to month to keep their bodies guessing and growing in response; that's a good strategy to adopt in the long term. But if you're currently mired in a serious rut, consider a radical yet effective approach: Completely change up your program, front to back and top to bottom. Whether it's self-designed, borrowed from a magazine, provided by a professional trainer, or even a comprehensive pre-built strategy like our ProSource Transformation Challenge outlined later in this article, a sweeping departure from your norm can not only reenergize your efforts, but will throw an all new stimulus at your physique, prompting muscular adaptations.

2) Change Your Scenery.

While a bit more subtle than revamping your entire training program, skipping out on your usual digs to try out a different gym or health club exposes you to different machines and equipment. Exploring new territory and seeing some new faces can bust a rut, and is a nice change of pace even if you're not muddled in the fitness doldrums. Keep this option in your back pocket and use whenever necessary -- a $10-$15 day fee at a gym is well worth it if it reignites your passion for working out.

3) Get Out.

Every once in a while the best possible thing you can do for yourself at the gym is leave. Go outside. Cross train, whether it's hoops at the park, volleyball, mountain biking, running, rock climbing -- pick your favorite sport or activity, or something you haven't tried before. The change-up can reinvigorate a tired program, especially when you're more and more often finding yourself dreading your next weight-room foray, and exposes your muscles to something else besides a steady stream of benches, barbell curls and bent-over rows.

4) Employ Strongarm Tactics.
To get a little melodramatic, goals are like axe-wielding murderers -- they'll motivate you to get moving in a hurry. Luckily, unlike cold-blooded killers, goals are generally a great thing for us, no matter whether we're talking fitness, finance, careers or personal improvement. As far as the first thing on that list, setting lifting-related goals will provide you with renewed focus as you doggedly pursue a personal best on one or more exercises, be it your squat, bench press, military press, deadlift, etc.

The goals you set should be tough, yet achievable in a reasonable timeframe. For instance, if your bench is currently 285, you may want to aim for 315 in a three-month period, then focus your training around getting stronger in your pecs, delts and triceps (without neglecting the rest of your body, of course) in an effort to build up to that new total. Strength and power training, because of its lower-rep ranges and heavy loads, can be a significant departure for people who are used to a moderate weight and volume bodybuilding regimen; as a bonus, concentrating on strength gains for a couple months will make a bodybuilding program all the more effective when you eventually return to that style of training because your body will have to re-acclimatize itself.

5) Add A Personal Touch.
Don't let a go-it-alone mentality block what could be a very productive avenue to growth. Calling on the help of an expert can bring a whole new perspective to your training, helping you unearth and understand mistakes you may have been making. A good trainer can teach you innovative ways to work out you may not have tried or thought of before. Even if only for a few sessions, hiring a trainer may become an amazing turning point in your progress.

Of course, a bad one can send you reeling in the wrong direction, so ask around your gym for recommendations, observe the ones at your club in action with other clients, and, before you hire someone, get their credentials to ensure they are certified through one or more reputable organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).

6) Challenge Yourself.
Competition can breed success and bring out the best in you. That's why programs like the EAS Body For Life and Muscle & Fitness Rock Hard Challenge, among others, are so successful and boast so many adherents who swear by the results they've enjoyed having a get-in-shape goal mapped out for you, with a prize incentive for good measure, can motivate you to achieve much more than you may have thought possible. If you think this is the route for you, ProSource has just launched a challenge that may be right down your alley. Below, we provide a weight-loss and muscle-sculpting program you can use if you choose, but the beauty of ProSource's Challenge is that you can pair it with any program you want just select your goal, whether muscle-building or weight loss, choose the supplements you want to use to help in your transformation, take some before photos of yourself to send in, and get to work.

The ProSource Transformation Challenge: Sample Training Program



Monday: Legs
Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Quads Barbell Squat
Leg Press
Leg Extension
5
4
3
12, 10, 8, 6, 6
8-15
8-12
Hamstrings Romanian Deadlift
One-Leg Standing Curl
4
3
12, 10, 8, 8
8-12
Calves Standing Calf Raise
Seated Leg Curl
4
2
15-20
15-20





Tuesday: Chest, Abs, Cardio
Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Chest Incline Barbell Press
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press
Decline Dumbbell Flye
Low-Cable Crossover
5
4
3
3
12, 10, 8, 6, 6
8-12
8-12
8-15
Abs Hanging Leg Raise
Decline Twisting Crunch
3
3
15
20
Cardio 30 minutes treadmill or elliptical: Five minutes warm-up at a steady pace, then one-minute high-speed intervals interspersed with two-minute slower pace (seven high-speed intervals total), four-minute cool down at a steady pace.





Wednesday: Rest Day




Thursday: Back, Biceps & Cardio
Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Back Bent-Over Barbell Row
Pull-Up
Seated Cable Row
Pull down to Front
Back Extension
5
4
3
3
3
12, 10, 8, 6, 6
10
8-12
8-12
25
Biceps Standing EZ-Bar Curl
Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl
One-Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl
4
3
3
12, 10, 8, 8
10-12
10-12
Cardio 50 minutes, machine of your choice, steady and demanding pace





Friday: Shoulder, Triceps & Forearms
Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Shoulders Dumbbell Lateral Raise
Seated Smith-Machine Press
Reverse Pec-Deck Flye
Cable Upright Row
4
4
3
3
10-15
12, 10, 8, 6
10-12
8-12
Triceps Close-Grip Bench Press
Lying EZ-Bar French Press
Rope Pressdown
4
3
3
12, 10, 8, 8
8-12
10-12
Forearms Behind-The-Back Barbell Wrist Curls
Reverse Wrist Curls off Bench
2
2
15-20
15-20





Saturday: Abs & Cardio
Bodypart Exercise Sets Reps
Abs Reverse Crunch
Machine Crunch
Side Crunch
4
3
3
15-20
15-20
15-20 each side
Cardio 40 minutes recumbent or upright stationary bike: Five minutes warm-up at a steady pace, then 30-second high-speed intervals interspersed with 90-second slower pace (15 high-speed intervals total), five-minute cool down at a steady pace.





Sunday: Rest Day





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Disclaimer: Use as directed with a sensible nutrition and exercise program. Read all product labels and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.





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