When new lifters first begin training, virtually any program (read: any well-conceived program) will allow them to make progress. However, once the magical “newbie gains” have begun to taper off, trainee will often fail to adapt their training to continue stimulating their bodies into growth. This leads to plateaus and frustration. As Albert Einstein is supposed to have said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Yet why do so many lifters continue training the same way once they stop making gains?
In many cases, lifters become attached to a certain methodology. Be it German Volume Training, HIT, Westside, or a standard 3×10 body part split, training methodology becomes ingrained in lifters’ minds. Like any blind adherence to dogma, sticking with a training plan after it has outlived its usefulness serves no useful purpose and could hold you back from what you are capable of achieving.
Now, this is not to be construed as an excuse to go “program hopping.” Certain factors in one’s training will often remain the same. But the way those components are mixed together in order to reap the benefits sought can change over time. Lifters who have followed a standard hypertrophy program may find that adding maximal strength training to their programs will allow them to increase the weight used when they return to hypertrophy-specific training. This increases the volume used in training (volume being measured as weight × total reps), in turn creating a greater stimulus and greater growth potential.
It’s also important to experiment with different movements and training ideologies to expand one’s bag of tricks. While the entirety of a different training ideology may not be beneficial, there are often small aspects of it that provide benefits. The key here is to find the useful parts of other protocols, and then merge them with what you are already doing. If you can look through some of the other stuff and take away the principles, you will be on your way to improvement.
If you can afford to do so, try training with someone who utilizes a program that is completely different than what you use now. If you’re a powerlifter, try training with a bodybuilder or an Olympic lifter. If you train using a standard body part split, go train with someone who’s into DC. Regardless of what it is, step outside your comfort zone for a little bit. It may take some adjustment, and you may find yourself frustrated or lost at times, but you are guaranteed to find at least one thing that could change your training for the better.