Watching your body change and respond is more thrilling than anything PlayStations or Xbox ever came out with (although those Grand Theft Auto games are sweet- who knew being a criminal could be so fun?). This is probably the one time when virtually all bodybuilders fit into the narcissistic stereotype society holds of us; mesmerized by any reflective surface at our own creation of muscular perfection. Yes, you love the way you look more and more each day. But then it happens. There comes a time when that progress halts and that’s a nightmare. The same workout routine that was miraculous at one time doesn’t work anymore, you don’t see any progress, frustration overshadows your motivation and you feel like giving up. Yes, every bodybuilder has gone through this phase, even Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is what is called as PLATEAU in the world of fitness.
Why Have I Hit A Plateau?
Hitting a plateau is quite common and you shouldn’t freak out when it happens. But in a nutshell, a plateau is when our bodies become accustomed to the stresses we place upon it throughout weight training. It can also become accustomed to a certain caloric intake. The reason behind most plateaus is lack of strategic modifications in training programs, nutrition plans and listening to your biofeedback. Those are all high level views of why you have hit a plateau. When you don’t give your body a reason to grow anymore, it won’t!
When you don’t adjust your caloric intake after your metabolism requires more calories to fuel your body for more muscle growth, you will plateau! When you train too often, or too long you begin to enter overtraining syndrome (OTS) which always leads to a plateau and frustrations.
Now it’s time to identify if you have hit a plateau or have entered into the dreaded overtraining zone.
The 7 Signs You Have Hit a Plateau:
1. Loss in Strength
2. Failure to Achieve a Pump
3. Lack of Motivation
4. No Progress in At Least 2 Workouts
5. Lack of Aggression and Increase in Irritability
6. No Progress in Muscle Gain in At Least 2 weeks
7. Decrease in Appetite
Now that we have talked about the signs to identify a plateau, let’s have a look at the ways to crush your plateau.
Some of the ways you can overcome your plateau:
1. Increasing Volume or Intensity of Workout– One of the easiest ways to break out of your plateaus is by making your muscles work harder rather than longer. At this point you should try “heavy weights-low reps” rather than “light weights-high reps.”
2. Changing the exercises in your workout routine– The trick is to keep your muscles from adapting and that you can achieve by simply changing the exercises in your regimen.
3. Post-Failure Heavy Overloading Method– This is a method in which after your last set you rack the weight back up and take rest for no longer than 20-25 sec and then pick it back up again and pump as many more reps as you can.
4. Drop sets– Drop sets are a technique in which you add additional volume after reaching failure within a work set.
Here is a breakdown of how to do this for any exercise (say overhead press):
Set 1: 90lbs for 8 reps
- Drop set 1: 60lbs for 6 reps
- Drop set 2: 40lbs for 5 reps
- Drop set 3: 25lbs for 5 reps
5. Eating more Calories– Sometimes you don’t see growth just because of the simple reason that you not eating enough.
6. Recovery Break– Sometimes it is not the work that is needed to grow but a planned recovery week. So, go on take a break for a week.
7. Sleep more and better– Muscle grows when you sleep. If you shortchange your sleep time, you shortchange growth.