When you want or have to stick with one specific exercise but can’t make progress with it anymore, you have to budge your muscles by doing something different. Here is to plateau breakers and forced negatives.
The Dreaded Workout Plateau
It happens to the best of us: you do exercise x for a while and have good progress with it, but one day that comes to a grinding halt and you find yourself stuck on the same number of reps forever and ever and ever. Put simply, you have “plateaued.”
There are a number of reasons why this happens and how to handle it, among which simply switching to a different exercise training the same muscle group is usually the easiest option. But for some exercises you can’t do this or, for whatever reason, you don’t want to.
This is where “plateau breakers” come in, what Wolf in the article linked above calls “shock techniques.” That sounds a bit drastic and personally I think of a plateau breaker as simply a way of doing an exercise that is different from what you did before.
There are several types of plateau breakers and I’m going to examine them in a series over the next weeks, but we start out with the “forced negative”:
Forced Negatives After The Regular Sets And Reps
You can of course also use these once you are through with your normal sets and reps, but I like to devote the exercise I have problems with entirely to it. In my experience, pre-exhausting the muscle with the normal routine and then doing forced negatives just doesn’t work that well. But try it and gauge your personal mileage with that.
These Are Not To Be Done Regularly!
I really want to make this clear: forced negatives, and plateau breakers in general, shouldn’t be a regular staple of your workouts.
First of all, when you do them often their positive effect wears off. Second, and very important, if you frequently stop making workout progress, your problem is elsewhere: overtraining, bad nutrition or a workout plan that doesn’t fit your level of experience.