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Podcast 381: Break Rep Plateaus To Do More Pushups Or Pullups

In this episode, I talk about breaking free of rep plateaus.

  • Trying to get to 20 straight pushups but can't get past 16?
  • Going for 5 pull-ups but you're stuck on 3 reps?

It's frustrating!

I've been there with push-ups, pull-ups, muscle-ups...

All the ups. WTH is up with that?

Several years ago, I broke my leg.

"Kindal, what does that have to do with breaking plateaus?"

Hear me out.

With a broken leg, I was limited in what I could do.

Train my upper body (the ups).

It was during this time I learned how to break plateaus for new rep PR's.

I went from...

  • 23 max pushups to 49
  • 11 max pull-ups to 15

Everything has a silver lining. And now I can help you break your rep plateaus.

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A Big Idea

Here's the thing about exercise.

When you're working on one thing... you're not working on something else.

You're always in an ebb and flow of getting stronger here... and getting weaker there.

This is why athletes tend to get and stay injured.

They are constantly doing sports specific exercises. And you can imagine the repetitive nature of what they do.

So don't worry if you lose squat strength as you train pushups.

You'll switch your focus down the road and all will be good.

Training To Hit New Rep PRs

In the show, I focus on pull-ups and push-ups...

But the training I describe can be applied to any exercise where you want to knock out more reps in a single set.

There are two main training tips:

  • Increase exercise endurance
  • Increase exercise strength

How To Increase Endurance

Decrease rest time.

If you want to be able to do, let's say 30 pushups...

Expect to be doing pushups for around 60s.

A minute is a long time for the muscles to be under tension and you want to train to prepare.

Higher rep ranges for longer bouts of exercise.

Or shorter rest periods and more sets.

As you get stronger, rest needs to be decreased.

This is why stretching... trigger balling... and mobility are so important on rest days.

During Week One:

  • Consider completing 5 sets of 75% your max reps.
  • With only 45 seconds of rest between sets.

For example... If you can do 10 pushups straight, do 5 sets of 8.

During Week Two:

  • Repeat the workout but rest only 30s between sets.
  • Continue weekly training like this until you're resting just 10-15s between sets.

Then try for a new max set and see what happens!

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How To Increase Strength

Typically, if you're stronger with an exercise, you can do more reps of that exercise.

There are two great ways to help:

1. Make Bodyweight Moves Weighted

I know most people think pushups and pull-ups as bodyweight moves...

They don't have to be.

If you're form is solid... and this is key...

Try adding weight.

  • For push-ups, try a weight vest or place a bumper plate on your upper back (this is what I personally do).
  • For pull-ups, use a weight belt to hold a light plate or kettlebell. Or hugging a light dumbbell securely between the arches of your feet.

You don't have to be able to knock out high reps.

Even just sets of 1-5 reps can be huge!

2. Complete Exercises As Negatives

Negatives are AMAZING for building strength .

Negatives are highly underrated.

Because they're slow, people think they're boring and skip right over them.

Don't!

The longer muscles are in the eccentric phase (lengthening) of an exercise is highly beneficial for increase strength.

What does that mean for our example exercises?

For push-ups... lowering from the top of the plank all the way to the floor for a count of 3-10 seconds per rep.

Once on the ground... get back to the top anyway you want. You DON'T have to pushup back up.

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For pull-ups... it's lowering from the chin above the bar to full extension for 3-10 seconds per rep.

You don't have to pull yourself back up. Use a box to get to the starting position or jump up.

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Now What? How To Use Both Methods?

Now that you're equipped with both training methods, how should you train?

By using both!

Alternate training sessions where one focuses on endurance based strength and another focuses on pure strength.

If you want to do both methods on the same day...

  • I suggest doing the pure strength first.
  • Give yourself 5-10 minutes to rest.
  • Then finish off with your endurance sets.

You want to do it as much as possible without burning out... and making sure you recover. Recovery is the most important part.

3-4 times a week should be perfect.

I can promise...

Use these training methods and you will see improvement within a few weeks.

Then you'll be setting new rep goals.

Dan and I focus on strength training for women ... so if you want help. Go checkout Fit Women's Weekly LIVE .

If you have any questions... hit me up on social. I would love to make a video to help you hit your goals!

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