Keeping a detailed training log is important. Written or digital(or both), somewhere you should be able to review your workouts, see trends, personal records, and additional notes.
Most competitive lifters care about their 1 repetition max- the most weight they can lift 1 time. One of the problems with focusing solely on this number is that as you progress in advancement, it becomes harder to budge. As you become a more experienced lifter, and the “newbie” progress has slowed, it can be disheartening to see much less progress.
For myself, when I was training the Olympic lifts more regularly, it helped to focus on setting personal records in a variety of lifts and a variety of rep ranges. The hope is that these lifts are specific enough to carry over. This might mean that I hit a personal record snatch for 2 reps. Or instead of a personal record clean and jerk, maybe it’s a personal record power clean for a set of 3 reps.
You can see how this can be applied to strength training. If your 1 rep max hasn’t moved much, focus on bringing up your best set of 3 or 5, or even 8. Yes, I understand the goal is 1 rep, and that these are slightly less specific. But the goal is also to train consistently for a long time. Hitting small PR’s in specific variations of the lifts and using pretty specific rep ranges will likely carry over.
So, to recap: if you’re in a rut, try and break some records in:
- a different rep range- try to improve your sets of 8, 5 or 3 (or anything you want, really)
- a different personal best in a similar movement. Set new records in paused squats, 3 ct paused benches, deficit deadlifts, etc.. They’re not the main movement, but they’re very similar.
- Some combination of # 1 and # 2. Set a new paused squat record for a set of 5. Do it beltless.
The point is to keep your head in the game and continue to seek progress. It gets challenging when you’ve been chipping away for years on end with little progress. Small PR’s in other areas can help.