By: Jenna Davidson

Alright, so you’re getting up there in weight on your deadlift or squat… and now you feel like you’re hitting a plateau in your training. Is the answer to your problems to keep adding weight until you’re squatting three times your bodyweight?

Or can you solve these workout woes by changing other conditions like the way your body is positioned, how you’re holding the implement you’re using and/or changing the complexity of the move itself?

Intensify Your Workouts Like This:

From symmetrical to asymmetrical

  • Squat to staggered stance squat or split squat: Switch from both feet on the ground to one foot completely on the ground and the other just on the ball of the foot. Split squats are great to add into your program for variety, to work toward an RFE or a single leg squat and to train any asymmetries in the lower body.
  • Tall kneel to half kneel: If you’re working a lot from a kneeling position, try to change it up as often as you can without pain. From two knees down to one knee up and one knee down.
  • Deadlift to kickstand deadlift or lateral deadlift: Instead of keeping two feet on the ground, kick one foot back just as you would in your staggered stance squat. From there keep equal pressure between the feet as you hinge. If you were to add any one type of movement into your program, let it be lateral! People typically move in all planes of motion… but when they strength train, they move only forward and backward. Lateral movements ensure that you’re working the frontal plane, and get closer to real life movement.

Loading the back lunge example 

  • Goblet: Holding a kettlebell in front of the chest.
  • Two kettlebell’s down: Driving two kettlebell’s down at your sides.
  • Sandbag over the shoulder: Either having the sandbag over the up-knee side or down-knee side.
  • Sandbag in Zercher Position: Holding the sandbag in the elbows.

Add variability in the carry

  • Slow and “light” farmer’s carry: Grab two weights that you can walk with for an extended period of time without losing proper breath and alignment.
  • Fast and “heavy” farmer’s carry: Pick two weights that are challenging and walk as fast as you can without swinging the bells, losing the breath or alignment.
  • Change your tempo on other moves as well: if you typically squat at a normal pace, use a slower numbered count on the eccentric part of the movement.

Trying to change things up can be challenging and even a little scary. Make sure you feel confident in your abilities before adding complexity or changing your routine. When in doubt, get some help and talk to a coach!