As a woman, you already know that weight lifting can increase your muscle tone, improve your bone strength and make you look better. But after sticking to your weight lifting routine religiously for months, you may find yourself at a plateau; your workouts are no longer improving your fitness level. That means it's time to try something new.
Increase Your Weight Lifted
One simple way to break through your weight lifting plateau is to increase the amount of weight you are lifting for each exercise. Many woman develop a great routine, but forget to increase the amount of weight they lift as they get stronger. If you lift the same amount of weight for months, your body will adapt, and the exercises will be easier than they were when you began. During your next workout, make a note of any exercises for which you feel like you could perform an extra five reps, at least.
Break through your plateau by supersetting your workouts to increase the challenge. A superset is two exercises paired back to back that you alternate through. For example, you can superset an arm exercise with a leg exercise, like doing a set of bicep curls, then a set of squats, then repeating the pattern until you finish your sets. You can also do double-duty with your arms, performing two arm exercises together. Try a set of chest presses immediately followed by a set of rows. These supersets challenge your muscles more and will help to break that plateau.
Add Power Exercises
For the more advanced lifter, power exercises can help your smash through your plateau. A power exercise is one that requires great speed to perform. For example, any plyometric jumping exercise and medicine ball throwing exercise is a power exercise. Try to include medicine ball slams for your arms and squat jumps for your legs. These exercises stimulate the muscles in a much different way than standard strength training, pushing you through the plateau. You can even include power exercises in supersets, such as by pairing lunges with lunges jumps.
Change up Your Exercise Selection
One of the easiest ways to get over your plateau is to change the exercises you are doing. And the simplest way to do that is to force yourself to use different equipment. If you have been using machines in your routine, switch to free weights. If you have been using dumbbells, switch to cables. The more variety in your exercise selection, the more likely you'll break through your routine. It is easy to settle into a routine of doing exercises that you are comfortable with week after week, but occasionally you will need to challenge yourself with something new. Body-weight exercises, such as pushups, are always a good choice, too.
- Women's Health: Weight Training for Women
- Core Performance; Mark Verstegen
- Athletic Body in Balance; Gray Cook
Scotty Brunning is a Chicago-based health and fitness writer. Having worked with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas, he has a plethora of fitness experience. He is an ACSM-certified health fitness specialist and a Cooper Institute master fitness specialist. Brunning holds a master's degree in health and fitness.