Do you have friends in the gym that seem to just be getting stronger and stronger every time you see them?
In most cases, we'd be willing to bet this is because they have set up proper programming in their training sessions to ensure they are always stimulating the muscles to grow.
At the end of the day, the only way you can ensure that your body is growing stronger and you won't be crushed by a training plateau is to practice the best possible habits for programming.
Although there are many methods you should be utilizing in order to ensure success in hitting a PR every month, here are some of the most effective strategies you can use:
This is perhaps the most effective way to ensure you are stimulating the muscle in a progressive manner. The best way you can cycle your sets is to train with variable red schemes.
For example - let's say you are training with a goal of increasing your bench press. For the first 1-2 weeks, you train with an 8 x 3 @200 pounds. In order to increase your weight you will need to train at lower rep schemes - right?
In this case, we'd suggest going for a 6 x 4 @210. In this way, you increase the load on the muscle without increasing the total reps.
In both cases, the total reps are 24 repetitions.
To increase the tension from here you can cycle the sets back to an 8x3 @210 - progressively building up the weight without actually changing the total amount of reps.
When it comes to basic strength training you always need to remember that the muscles need to condition for strength and deload for recovery. The most effective way to ensure you are hitting a PR every month is to use 5-7 days a month as deloading sessions.
During these workouts, you will still be exercising, but you will be putting far less stress on the muscle. This deloading will help your muscles to recover without becoming weaker for extended recovery.
We would suggest that you use this time to get into some mobility work and light training for full-range of motion. You could even implement a full spectrum of pause rep exercises or deep range of motion exercises. During these times of deloading, you can really work into ranges of motion without worrying about how much weight you are actually lifting.
You hear us preach a balanced diet very frequently, but to a certain extent if you are looking to constantly maximize your strength potential you should eat a diet that is near perfect.
The last and most important concept of any workout program is to make sure it is fun and engaging for you. If you put yourself under a high amount of stress and don't like the workout or the goals you have you might not be motivated to achieve them.
Try to have fun with your training - and more importantly, ensure that the goals you have are ones that you truly want to accomplish.
If you can be motivated to accomplish your goals than you will have far less stress in hitting a PR every month.