How to Overcome Plateaus and Keep Progressing in Weightlifting

Published by PowerQuad Fitness on June 6, 2023. 

We all eventually hit that dreaded wall where you just don't seem to be making any progress. This is known as a plateau, and it is a common experience for weightlifters. In this article, we will discuss how to overcome plateaus and keep progressing in weightlifting. 

Increase Training Volume

One way to overcome a plateau is to increase training volume. This means doing more sets, reps, or exercises than you currently do. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that weightlifters who increased their training volume by 50% were able to increase their strength significantly (1). However, it is essential to do this gradually and progressively to avoid overtraining and injury.

Change Up Your Exercises

Another way to overcome a plateau is to change up your exercises. This is known as exercise variation, and it can help to stimulate new muscle growth and prevent boredom. A study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine found that exercise variation was associated with greater muscle hypertrophy and strength gains in weightlifters (2). Some examples of exercise variation include changing the grip or stance, using different equipment, or doing different variations of the same exercise.

Focus on Your Weak Points

Plateaus can also occur because of weak points in your body. These are areas that are not as strong or developed as other muscles. Focusing on these weak points can help you to break through a plateau and continue progressing. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine found that weightlifters who trained their weak points were able to make significant gains in strength and muscle mass (3).

Improve Your Nutrition

Nutrition is an essential aspect of weightlifting, and it can play a significant role in overcoming plateaus. Consuming enough protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats can provide the energy and nutrients needed to fuel your workouts and support muscle growth. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming a high-protein diet was associated with greater muscle gains in weightlifters (4).

Take Rest Days

Finally, rest is essential for overcoming plateaus and progressing in weightlifting. Rest days allow your muscles to recover and repair after workouts, which can help to prevent injury and fatigue. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that taking rest days was associated with greater strength gains in weightlifters (5).

In conclusion, overcoming plateaus in weightlifting requires a multi-faceted approach that includes increasing training volume, changing up exercises, focusing on weak points, improving nutrition, and taking rest days. By following these strategies, weightlifters can continue to progress and achieve their fitness goals.


  1. Prestes, J., De Lima, C., Frollini, A. B., Donatto, F. F., Conte, M., & De Andrade, P. B. (2009). Comparison of linear and daily undulating periodized resistance training to increase strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(9), 2437-2442.
  2. Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Davies, T. B., Lazinica, B., Krieger, J. W., & Pedisic, Z. (2018). Effect of resistance training frequency on gains in muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 48(5), 1207-1220.
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J., Peterson, M. D., Ogborn, D., Contreras, B., & Sonmez, G. T. (2015). Effects of low-versus high-load resistance training on muscle strength and muscle hypertrophy in well-trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(10), 2954-2963.
  4. Helms, E. R., Zinn, C., Rowlands, D. S., & Brown, S. R. (2014). A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: A case for higher intakes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 20.
  5. Arazi, H., Coetzee, B., & Asadi, A. (2016). The effect of rest interval length on rating of perceived exertion during a resistance training session. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(5), 1339-1345.
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