Mitchell Hooper’s 5 Tips for Avoiding Plateaus

2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) and current Arnold Classic Strongman champion Mitchell Hooper actively engages his social media followers with insights into strongman competitions, bodybuilding, fitness, and nutrition. Recently, he took on fitness influencer Sam Sulek’s bodybuilding chest routine.

On May 16, 2024, Hooper addressed a common challenge for seasoned athletes: hitting plateaus. He offered five critical tips to help athletes break through these standstills and advance their progress. Check out the highlights below:

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Hooper’s 5 Plateau Breaking Tips

Mitchell Hooper suggests incorporating these five tips to keep making progress in the gym: 


Referencing Plateaus

Exceeding Mental Limits

Surrounding Oneself with Strong People

Staying Consistent 

[Related: A Guide to the Best Pre-Workouts in 2024, Tested and RD Approved]

1. Periodization

Hooper elaborates on the concept of periodization, described as the overarching framework of a training program, segmented into three distinct phases:

Microcycle: A short-term training period spanning a week.

Mesocycle: A training block lasting between four to six weeks.

Macrocycle: An aggregation of mesocycles, potentially extending over a year or constituting the complete training phase.

Hooper clarifies a common misconception about periodization, emphasizing that the training objective doesn’t necessarily need to shift during this process. Effective periodization crafts a well-structured and purposeful training regimen.

“Effective periodization is the art of changing things enough that it’s a different stimulus but keeping them similar enough that we build on top of what we did last block,” says Hooper. 

Stimulus changes can be effectively achieved by adjusting rep ranges, movement quality, tempo, or explosive exercises. Adhere to the principle of progressive overload in periodization strategies. According to Hooper, beyond merely increasing the weight, the principle of progressive overload can be practically implemented in several ways:

Maintaining the same weight while deliberately slowing down the repetition, a.k.a. tempo training.

Keep the weight constant but intentionally enhance the speed and explosiveness of the repetitions.

Employing the same weight while improving movement quality.

Using the same weight but adding an extra rep or set.

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2. Plateauing Always Needs a Reference

Initial measurements to identify any plateaus in progress are crucial. Therefore, he suggests conducting periodic tests of a one-rep maximum every six to 12 weeks.

“You have to measure what you’re going to plateau in,” says Hooper. “If you think you’re plateauing in strength, we need to measure strength over a long period of time. If you think you’re plateauing in aesthetics, measure aesthetics in some quantitative way over time.”

3. Exceed One’s Mental Limits

Hooper reveals that his journey from a novice to being crowned WSM in just four years taught him the importance of believing in one’s strength. Many individuals impose mental barriers on themselves, leading to physical limitations. Overcoming these mental barriers is critical to prevent hitting a performance plateau.

Hooper recommends using a “one rep max calculator” available online to explore their strength potential. By inputting their current capabilities, they can mathematically forecast their limits. Understanding their potential can motivate further action and lead to greater achievements.

4. Surround Oneself with Strong People

Hooper advises surrounding oneself with stronger individuals. Depending on one’s specific needs, switching from a commercial gym to a specialized strength-training facility could necessitate switching. Training alongside stronger individuals can broaden one’s perspective on what is achievable. 

Hooper attests to his strength skyrocketing after transitioning from a commercial gym to a strength-focused gym, highlighting the impact of the change.

“I got out of my own way and realized I could do what these guys are doing,” says Hooper.
“Get to a strength gym, and you’ll achieve point number four and never hit another plateau.”

5. Be Consistent at the Gym 

Consistency is the key to preventing plateaus, placing it above nutrition or any specific program. Hooper has maintained a perfect record, not missing a scheduled training day in over 10 years.

Hooper recognizes that injury is a significant barrier for those aiming for consistency in their fitness routines. Preventing injuries is crucial for achieving one’s fitness or training objectives. Hooper offers three essential tips for injury prevention during training:

The design of the training program and progressive overload must be appropriate, incorporating periods of reduced intensity (deloads) to ensure a strong start.

Nutrition via proper macro and micronutrient intake is vital, as is adequate hydration.

Prioritizing regular, high-quality sleep is tremendously beneficial for recovery and prevention of injuries.

Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram

The post Mitchell Hooper’s 5 Tips for Avoiding Plateaus appeared first on BarBend.


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