We are creatures of habit - we get comfortable with what we are doing and don’t want to change. Well, I guess I should be careful with that - most people find it all too tempting to stop exercising just weeks after making their life-changing commitments every New Years. So, I guess I should say, we are creatures of habit, and, to varying degrees, lazy.
This has been made clear dozens of times in my workout routines. While I like to think I change my routines reasonably often, I still sometimes find myself acceding to a maximum weight or number of repetitions based on what I have been doing for a while.
One rather stark example came up when my nephew was visiting several years ago. As is usual for us, we included a trip to the gym during his visit. I had been comfortably doing leg presses with 3 plates (weights) on each side of the bar. Stevo suggested I was on a plateau and needed to up the weight. I was perfectly happy where I was, but with his gentle prodding (pushy little tyke that he is) I did 4 plates on each side, and then 5. And, from that point on, rather than starting out with 2 and moving up to 3, I started with 3 and moved up to 5 each time I did leg exercises.
Notice the level of change - from 3 to 5 - a pretty significant change that.
The reason I am posting this tonight is because of the leg workout we did today. Michael has been progressing very quickly, and is able to lift within one pair of plates of what I press. We had been doing 5 sets for a while, increasing the number of plates by two for each set. Today we did 10 sets, increasing in single plate increments, but also increasing the number of reps for each set. And we survived!
Tomorrow we will both be having problems walking, but it is amazingly gratifying to see this kind of progress.
I also have to admit we made sure to be ready to help out if the other got in trouble while doing the latter sets with the most plates. This is called spotting - if you are making a big change in the weight or reps, be sure to have someone you can trust spotting you while you push past your plateau.
It is way too easy to get into a routine, with exercising, eating, your marriage... And it can be so very beneficial to once in a while get out of that routine - do twice as many reps, go to a heavier weight, eat a vegetarian meal, surprise your mate by doing something really thoughtful...
Find a way to shake-up that plateau!