Want to sign up for pre-release of our e-book? FREE to anyone who signs up prior to March 14
My Library Blog TDEE Calculator Get Started Now Login

How to bust through plateaus and pick up lagging muscles

advanced gains hypertrophy Dec 05, 2018

I've sat down and written every advanced principle I have used to get myself bigger and blast through times where I've felt stuck


What you should know first (you probably don't need this)

Unless your nutrition, stress, health, and recovery are good, you are just going to make things worse. So if that's you, go check out how we think you should fix your heatlh.

Second, if your technique sucks or you have no 'mind-muscle' connection, these principles aren't going to help. Go back and try a more simple linear program (like our Mass Program).

Lastly, everyone responds to exercises differently. Some of us just grow quick in some areas. For me, I have to work my upper back way more to keep symmetrical, we all have things like that. If something is truly lagging, you need to add volume.


Who does need this

Sometimes you just need to add a lot of stress to your muscularity in order to get an adaption. This will help.

In reality, though, the best time to do these kinds of principles is simply just for fun. Get your training partner involved, and get in the hurt locker. Doing the same thing at the gym is boring, I get it. When I feel like having fun, I'll chuck in an advanced principle, if nothing else, just to feel sore the next day and message my training partner.

Lastly, we give these to clients at times just to know how far they can push themselves. Sometimes doing something very very difficult makes everyday training easier. For example, applying any of these to squats is horrible.


1. Multiple tempo

This means changing the speed you accelerate, to get 'two' types of failure during a set. Failure one, 3 seconds positive, failure two, as fast as possible

My favourite use: bicep curls. Do the positive slow, like 3 seconds until you hit failure. Then do the positive as fast as possible. You will get an extra few reps.

This is also good for things like chins if you can do ten easily, do the positive super slow and make the set harder, then explode the last few

2. Rest Pause

Perfect for anything you can rerack easily, or hold at the bottom of the movement. It means training for failure, take a little rest, then going again.

My pick of exercises, lateral raises. Do reps to failure, take one big breath, try for one or two more. Two big breaths, one or two more.

3. Superset / Trisets

You can do supersets in two ways. Opposing muscles (bis/tris) or the same muscle. I actually superset all the time (Mass program is based on that in the first four weeks).

When I'm trying to mix up training, I'll do the same muscle. For example, Chins to lat pulldowns. A different effect would be chins to low rows. I'm trying to get a huge pump and really go after 'feeling' the muscle.


4. Time for reps (reps in 20s, 30s or 40s)

This is a big westside / Louie Simmons idea. On an accessory like an incline dumbbell press, he'd see how many reps could be done in a certain time, then you can go back and try to squeeze in one more.

You shouldn't be rushing the reps, the idea is to have something heavy enough you are stopping, breathing, then getting after it again.

I like to do incline dumbbell press. My best is 24 in 30 seconds with a pair of ole 50s.


5. Lock Offs

I haven't seen many people do these, but they are awesome, especially for building a bigger back.

On your last rep or two of chins or pulldowns, when you know you are near failure, hold the top of the rep as long as you can. Lock yourself there.

Works great with any row, leg curls, back extensions, anything where the static hold at the top will tax the muscle!

6. Increased range of motion / Decreased range of motion

This is really important as you get stronger. At times, you want to put less stress on your joints, so less weight, and longer range of motion is perfect. Snatch grip deads are perfect for this (or pulls from a block).

Sometimes, you want to overload and 'feel' a heavier weight. This is like a rack pull, dead off blocks or bench to a block.

You need to use these carefully, or you will blow your recovery. Hit me up if you want more info on when we use these.

7. Pauses

Again, these are borrowed from our powerlifting brothers. You can do hard or easy pauses.

An example of a pause that is hard (and horrible) is pausing two inches off the ground on deadlifts, then continuing the lift. It's literally, horrible.

An easy pause would be where you hold in the locked position for a better pump, like the top of a tricep pushdown.


8. Multiple ranges of motions

I do these quite a lot. Full laterals, when I'm dead, partials. Full chins, when I'm dead, just the top half. Awesome for pec dec too. Anything where one part of the movement is easier than the other. It lets you tax the whole movement by the end of a set.

9. Drop sets

Classic bodybuilding. Run the rack bicep curls are epically fun. Start at a weight you can do for 6, keep going down the rack until the smallest weight.

If I'm in an empty gym, I'm probably doing this :)

10. Multiple grips

Some exercises feel easier / harder with grips. Classic examples are overhand chins to under. Wide grip curls to narrow.

11. Cheat reps / Forced reps / Negatives

Unless you know what you are doing, I don't ever really advise on any of these. If you are an advanced lifter, you will know when your body needs that little bit extra!

These are used WAY too much by beginners and intermediates. I never recommend them. I think lots of people are giving away reps, and if the spotter stayed away or the person kept trying, there were another one or two clean reps there.

This is a classic example where some people would spot, but big Pat had the reps

12. Flex post set

So overlooked as a way to increase mind-muscle connection. Anyone with quad growth issues, we get them to flex their quads as hard as possible post set. Give it go with any lacking movement.


Wrapping Up

So there you go. 12 things you can try if you feel like you need to change up a workout. I'm not a huge fan of our client or athletes doing 4000 exercises. I think with simple compound movements, and some advanced principles to mix it up, you can continue to grow.

If you are at a level advanced enough to think about competing, I strongly recommend you check out the advance area with Rawdon. He got me to my pro card and the best shape of my life, he has A LOT of info for advanced trainees.

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. You'r information will not be shared. Ask any question you want, and we'll answer for you!


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.