There is absolutely nothing in life more devastating than reaching a strength plateau. Not totaling your car, not losing your job, and hell, not even witnessing the death of your own sibling. Okay, perhaps I exaggerated a bit there, but the point I’m trying to drive home is that stagnancy is no fun at all. The feeling of staying the same is something that dedicated gym-goers are not comfortable with, with is the reason they are in the gym in the first place. We want to transform; we want to grow; we want to transcend beyond the limits the world places around us! Plateaus don’t help us with reaching these feats. If you are unfortunate enough to be the suffer of one, here are some suggestions as to what you can do to overcome this dreaded obstacle.
#1) Change your diet
Diet. Yes, diet. Need I say more? Okay, since you’re silently demanding an explanation from me I’ll go ahead and humor you a bit. Although, if you are a fitness enthusiast you should already be well aware of the vital role your meal plan plays in your muscular progress. The fact is, unless you are lucky enough to be blessed with the genetics of a mesomorph you will not build muscle unless your body is at a caloric surplus. It is imperative that you are absolutely sure you are receiving your body’s desired amount of macro-nutrients, meaning you need to be ingesting the essential amount of protein, carbohydrates, fats, and calories to keep your body satiated and converting the surplus it receives into muscle. It may seem difficult and extremely time consuming, but there are tools that can aid you in this such as MyFitnessPal, which basically does all the dirty work for you with minimal effort.
#2) Shock your muscles
Do you want to know what Arnold Schwarzenegger did once when he confronted a plateau with his usual leg routine? He gathered a barbell and about 250lbs worth of plates, drove miles and miles until he reached the middle of a forest, and spent the entire day doing squats from sun up to sun down. Legend has it that he completed nearly 200 sets and was bedridden for the next week. While I’m not sure how much of this story is contrived and how much actually occurred, I can certainly imagine this method would either cause your muscles to blow up to the size of tree trunks or require the need to be amputated. Whatever the case, it may not be necessary to take things as far as Arnold, but simply keeping the routine fresh, developing a new set and rep range, or utilizing drop sets or super sets can be an ideal method to generate the muscle confusion required to give your body no option but to grow.
#3) Use different equipment
Take a break from the dumbbells and barbells and try out kettle balls, machines, or even cables . Yea, I know someone telling you that may be equivalent to someone suggesting that you take a break from young women and try sleeping with sheep or goats. The truth is you will be pleasantly surprised with how thankful your muscles will be exploring the diversity of different equipment. Rotating from cables and machines will perhaps do well with hitting your muscle from an angle that barbells were unable to reach.
#4) Sleep more
Muscle growth occurs in the wee hours of the night while the moon spreads its luminescent glow over the earth and the nocturnal creatures which ensconce themselves during the day finally emerge and seek out their own sources of carbs and protein. Hmmm, I wonder if animals can make gains too… Okay, back on topic! Sleep. Essential for recuperating your mental powers as well as healing your damaged muscles so to keep your physical prowess in tip top shape for impending sessions in the gym. You don’t necessarily have to hit 10 hours in the sack a day, just as long as you’re getting the recommended 6-8 hours a night your body will have no complaints.
#5) Take a break
To a dedicated weightlifter, taking a week off from the gym may sound like the collapse of the entire universe, but upon doing so he or she may be surprised with the positive results it may have not only your body, but also your mind. Although I am not a firm believer in the theory of over-training, I do believe the body functions more effectively when it receives the rest it desires. We are not super humans; we are just average people living average lives in an average society. No matter how much we want to believe we can work out seven days a week for years and continue accumulating results unabated, it simply will not happen. If you try it your body will protest by granting you joint pains, ligament tears, and worst of all: no gains in the gym. One week off every six months won’t eliminate all the work you’ve put in the gym. On the contrary it will probably leave you feeling more invigorated and focused when you decide to step back inside. And once you realized how empty life was without the metallic jangling of 45lb plates clashing together amid heavy bench presses, the padded thumps of dumbbells being thrust to the ground, and the primal screams of pent up fury emerging from grimacing mouths of deadlifters as they reach a PR, you will appreciate the fact that you are home again.
Author: Brandyn Parker