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Sticking Points

Sticking Point: A stalling of bodybuilding progress. Also that point in a movement at which you fail to continue the upward momentum of the bar.

Getting Passed a Sticking Point

There are many excellent techniques available to get passed a sticking point. It may take longer to get past a sticking point than it would to make conventional gains in muscle mass and strength, but that is normal. Sticking points normally represent a lack of balance that is fully possible to correct if given the proper time and effort. Some examples of ways to get over sticking points are shown below, and expanded upon further in the article:

  • Vary your Exercise Program
  • Vary your Training Split
  • Do Partial Reps
  • Vary Number of Reps
  • Vary Number of Sets
  • Vary Rest Between Sets
  • Vary Rep Speed
  • Emphasis on Negative or Positive Motion of Repetion
  • Apply a shocking principle.
  • Ensure Proper Nutrition
  • Take a Break From Training

Techniques Explored in Depth

Now we will examine each of the techniques above in greater depth. You may need to experiment with each one of the techniques individually before you get passed your sticking point, but be patient! It will happen with enough time and effort.

Vary your Exercise Program

Everything in weight training has the potential to become stale if you do it enough without experimenting with other techniques. For example, the barbell bench press is one of the most highly praised exercises for chest around, but even that can get stale if it is all you ever do. If you have the same exercises week after week your body will get accustomed to doing them, and when you hit a plateau, it will be hard to get passed it, and sticking points will remain. As a piece of advice, change up your exercise program, and see if it helps in the weeks to follow.

Vary your Training Split

Even if you are excellent at surprising your body with high levels of intensity, your muscles can still get used to doing the same exercises in the same order on the same days of the week, week after week. That said, shake things up a little by changing the order that you perform exercises within a workout, or the days in which you work on specific muscle groups. As an example, if you are used to performing chest exercises on Friday starting off with bench presses, change it so you start off with dumbbell presses or change it so that you perform chest day on Thursday. This will throw your muscles off guard a bit and might help them to new growth.

Do Partial Reps

Now the question is - what part in the range of motion are you experiencing a sticking point? For example, on the bench press, do you find that you can't lift the barbell at the beginning? Or is it the upper third of the range of motion, or maybe the middle? In all of these cases, you can practice specifically within the range of motion you are experiencing the sticking point. For example, if the top third is the part where you are experiencing difficulty, perform reps just in that range of motion to strengthen the muscle fibers necessary to get passed that sticking point.

Vary Number of Reps / Sets

By varying the number of reps or sets you perform, you can give your body a surprise and this can easily translate into getting passed a sticking point depending on how you respond to it. Like any other shock techniques, this has its value, so don't ignore it if you are having trouble getting through a sticking point and want to get over it.

Vary Rest Between Sets / Rep Speed

The problem with your workouts may lie in volume - you may be doing too little or too much for your body type. That said, if you take more or less time between each set and change the speed in which you perform the set, your body may react positively too it by breaking through sticking stubborn sticking points which had previously been a problem.

Emphasis on Negative or Positive Motion of Repetion

The more specific you break the rep down into, the more likely you are to discover exactly what is causing you to lag behind and experience a sticking point. By performing exercises focussing only on the positive or negative range of motion, you can identify if you are lagging in either area, and at the same time, strengthen either or both ranges.

Apply a shocking principle

It is always a good idea to shock your muscles every now and then. As a tip - do not overuse shocking principles, because your body will grow just fine off conventional training. Every now and then, shocking principles may be exactly what you need to get past a plateau or a sticking point in training.

Ensure Proper Nutrition

Perhaps your workouts are not the cause of the problem at all! It is totally possible that what is causing your sticking point(s) is simply lack of proper nutrition. That said, be sure you are getting enough overall calories, correct breakdown of micronutrients and enough water to perform your workouts succesfully. For more information, click HERE to determine your basal metabolic rate.

Take a Break From Training

Sometimes, it may not be your training that is the problem at all, but rather your overtraining. A week off training every now and then may be exactly what your body needs to reach new peaks in both strength and mass, and of course, help you get over your sticking point(s).

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact me

Take care,

Matt Canning

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