Overcoming Strength Plateaus: The Power of Exercise Variation

As clients embark on their fitness journey, the initial gains in muscle size and strength can be exhilarating. However, as they approach their genetic potential, progress often begins to slow down, leaving them frustrated and disheartened. This phenomenon, known as diminishing returns, can be particularly challenging for those seeking to push their limits and achieve further strength gains. In such cases, the concept of a strength plateau becomes a formidable adversary.

To break through this plateau, one effective strategy is to introduce new exercises into the training regimen. These exercises offer fresh neuromuscular stimuli and motor-unit activation patterns, reigniting the potential for continued progress.

In this article, we delve into the significance of exercise variation in overcoming strength plateaus and draw parallels with the author’s personal experience in pursuit of the elusive gymnastic skill, the planche.

The Power of Exercise Variation

As clients strive to maximize their muscle size and strength, they often encounter a frustrating reality – progress doesn’t continue at the same rate forever. Genetic limitations play a significant role, constraining the potential for further improvement. This can be disheartening for individuals who are passionate about enhancing their strength.

One effective strategy to address this situation is the introduction of new exercises. Even subtle variations in exercises can introduce novel challenges to the body, reigniting the potential for progressive strength gains.

For instance, if a client finds themselves at a strength plateau in the chest press exercise, switching to the incline chest press can provide a fresh perspective. Although both exercises target similar muscle groups, the nuanced differences in movement patterns can stimulate continued improvement.

inclined press personal training

Personal Experience with Exercise Variation

The concept of exercise variation rings particularly true in the world of gymnastics and skill acquisition. Take, for example, the planche, a remarkable gymnastic skill that demands immense strength and balance. Traditional gymnastic training, combined with online tutorials, may help build a foundation, but it’s not uncommon to hit a wall, as the author did.


Interestingly, the author observed a contrasting scenario. A friend with no gymnastics background embarked on a planche journey while incorporating traditional strength training exercises such as the bench press, dumbbell chest press, and inclined press. Surprisingly, this individual progressed at a significantly faster pace than the author, despite the lack of specific gymnastic training.


In the quest for continuous strength gains and skill development, recognizing the significance of exercise variation cannot be overstated. Breaking through strength plateaus often necessitates introducing new challenges to the body’s neuromuscular system. Whether it’s switching to a different variation of a strength exercise or exploring unconventional training methods, the power of exercise variation can be a game-changer.

The author’s own experience with the planche serves as a testament to the effectiveness of this approach. So, next time you find yourself stuck in a strength plateau, consider the transformative potential of changing up your workout routine.

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