10 Tips to Break Through Training Plateaus

It happens to every athlete.

You’re breaking personal record after personal record in the gym and then you get in a rut and are stuck at the same spot and can’t make improvements.

What do you need to do to break through a training plateau?

Here are a few ideas to help you off that table top and back on to the journey upward.

Go to a gym where most athletes are better than you.

It’s too easy to stay at your local gym and keep thinking you’re the big frog in a small pond.

Challenge yourself and at least find 2 other athletes that will smoke your *ss in any workout and go crank a session with them. Steel sharpens steel.

Find out what a Navy SEAL has to say about Failure and Success – HERE

I know I can hear it now  – its boring – but I promise you that an extra session a week of track work (sprints and running) will blow the cobwebs and mold off your current training records and catapult you to new levels.

Run the 50 meter and 100 meter. Do interval work.

Challenge your time for the 200 and 400 meters.  Run the steps at your local stadium track. Your legs will feel the difference (sore) the next day. Sprints on hills can be very effective to wake up your quads and hips and push you out of your comfort zone to a new level.

Also – Check out a copy of Mark Rippetoe’s classic book  Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, 3rd edition.

Drop the pec deck squeezes and bicep curls and get back to basics.

Begin to do linear progression workouts to help with your overall strength.  Emphasize the back squats and deadlifts.  Bench and clean and shoulder presses are essential too.

A few weeks of linear progressions may be what you need to push you off the plateau and back on the journey up.  Your next personal record on the deadlift is right around the corner.

Video — Starting Strength

Check out Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength book HERE:

#4: Show Up Fresh for PR’s
Take a good look at your  training log (you are keeping a detailed log aren’t you?) and look at the exercises where you have recently broken a new PR (you have a few personal records, right?).  Often you will find that the areas your breaking PR’s are the times where you showed up fresh as a cucumber and crushed a workout.  Sometimes it’s that last month of working consistently on a certain type of exercise – and walla – you improved.  Look at your training log and keep great notes.  Then rest fully and show up fresh to blow out your new PR.

Your next great workout could be around the corner.  Check out what other athletes are doing and who is setting the pace.

There are great interviews and instructional video at www.crossfit.com for new ideas for exercises and pointers on how to improve your lift or your row. Try sled training, or tire flips, or bag pushes, sand bag carries, or work on a muscle up.  Have you ever tried 30 handstand pushups for time — or another big number of bodyweight exercises for time? The sky is the limit.  Variety stimulates the brain and muscles to stretch to new levels.  Click here for some sled training routines from top powerlifter Jim Wendler.

#6: Improve your Diet
bowl of saladTake one thing in your diet that you know is wrong (diet Coke?) and replace it with filtered water.

The next week replace two things.  Pretty soon your diet will be dialed in super tight and your energy levels will be at an all time high.  Eat more lean meats and vegetables and less processed grains.

Add more veggies to your diet as I use Athletic Greens. Check out the blog from Robb Wolf to help you gain insight and new ideas on a good clean diet.


Do a dynamic warmup (jumping jacks, walking lunges, pushups, etc.) for at least 10 minutes before a workout and make sure to stretch at least 10 minutes after.

We are all guilty of wanting to get in a workout and do the absolute minimum to warmup on the front end and then bolt out of the front door of the gym (with no cool down stretch) at the end.  Check out these stretches to help you warm up and avoid injuries. * Hamstring stretches *Shoulder stretches *Hip stretches or go to www.sealgrinderpt for a full body 30 minute stretch and body weight warmup to energize yourself and get you ready for your workout.

crossfit box jump workoutsAdding explosive power jumps to your workout can have a dramatic effect.  Frog jumps , plyo ice skaters , airborne heismans , burpees with a lateral jump  are all examples of plyo jumps that can boost your workouts.  I made a plyo box with scraps of plywood and 2x 4’s for next to nothing.

Not only will your heart rate jump but you will increase your explosive power which translates to speed in your sprints and getting off the line of scrimmage quickly.

#9: Set New Goals
You have goals don’t you?  Write them down in your training log.  Dont have vaque goals – have precise goals.  Repeat after me — I want to weigh 165 lbs, bench press 240 lbs, deadlift 375 lbs and run a 5k in 19:00 in the next 30 days.  Doesn’t that sound good?  Have an event on the horizon where you can test all of your training.  Run in a local 10k or trail run, the Spartan Race or Tough mudder, a GORUCK event, a 100 mile bike race or CrossFit competition.

Sometimes we take all this training stuff too seriously.  Enjoy life and take an extra rest day.  A free and clear mind will help you more in your training as your not bogged down and bottled up with stress.  Sure, exercise will help you relieve some of that stress, but try to get to your workouts with less worries and have fun.  That is what it is all about.

#11 Extra Protein
athletic-greens-grass-fed-whey-proteinOK; I know thats more than 10 tips but I had to add this one in.  If your starting to lag in your workouts, add a little extra protein.

Try tuna in a sandwich or salad for lunch.  An extra portion of lean chicken or beef may be just what you need to provide some extra fuel in your engine.

If you need some clean fuel then check out Athletic Greens protein.


Question: How can I find out more info about CrossFit? Check out the main website here. If you have any questions about blasting through a training plateau and getting back on the Japanese bullet train to a new personal record—shoot me an email at [email protected]




Brad McLeod is a former Navy SEAL and now a CrossFit  level 1 certified trainer.

He trains hundreds of athletes to push past their weaknesses and plateaus to shed their former skin and become new athletes.

If you have questions or want to inquire about coaching you can reach him at [email protected].



Check Out Athletic Greens.

One scoop delivers a powerful punch of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals and 11 important superfoods—adding an awesome boost to your day’s nutrition!

Related Articles:
Unbeatable Mind Academy Review
Log PT workout tips for Special Forces Athletes