Have You Hit a Weight Training Plateau in Your Program?…
We’ve all experienced it at one time or another… Our training efforts are running along nicely and with each week we’re successfully adding more weight to the bar, more pounds to the scale and more muscle size and thickness to our bodies. Then without warning those gains come to a screeching halt and our muscle building and strength gaining progress seems to have stopped dead in its tracks.
In the bodybuilding world, this is referred to as a weight training plateau.
The very idea of this should send shivers up the spine of any serious trainee, as this weight training plateau essentially means that despite our best efforts in the gym and in the kitchen, no additional progress is being made. What does the typical lifter do in response to hitting a weight training plateau? They immediately begin switching up their training routine haphazardly in an effort to “shock” their muscles into new growth. They change their exercises and rep ranges, or they implement new “advanced techniques” such as forced reps, negatives and static holds in an effort to break through the plateau into new levels of growth…
While exercise variety can sometimes be a reasonable option here, these plateaus happen for more fundamental reasons that usually have little to do with the repeated use of the same workout. In the majority of cases, the weight training plateau is simply the result of OVERTRAINING. All we have to do is review some basic physiology in order to see why this is the case…
When we train intensely we are damaging our muscles, and each set that we perform digs a “hole” into the body’s recovery ability. When we leave the gym, the body needs rest and nutrients in order to rebuild the damaged muscle and to fill up this hole. Once the muscles have been remodeled back to their previous state, the body will then further compensate by building additional muscle mass as an adaptive response to all the training stress. So far, so good, right?
Well here’s the critical factor that you need to keep in mind: as you become stronger and add more and more weight to the bar, the resulting “hole” that is being dug into the body’s recovery ability continually increases. The advanced lifter who is bench pressing 300 pounds for 6 reps is placing his muscles and body under far more overall stress than the beginner who is benching 125 pounds.
What does this have to do with a weight training plateau?…
See if you are consistently adding more weight to the bar and pushing your body to higher and higher levels of stress each week, you MUST compensate for this increase in stress loading by reducing your training volume and frequency. If the stress from each individual set is constantly on the upward climb, yet you are still performing the same number of sets and training days, your body will inevitably be pushed beyond its ability to properly recover in between workouts. Improper recovery means that the muscle is not being given an adequate amount of time to remodel and to increase its size and strength further.
This is why your gains slow down and eventually stop… because every time your body is about to compensate by increasing the size and strength of your muscles, you interrupt the process by placing them under more stress and digging a new hole into the recovery process. If that hole never gets filled then you never progress forward and you’ve hit a plateau where your body can no longer build mass. So what’s the solution?
As you become more advanced in your bodybuilding program, you must train less often and with fewer sets in order to avoid hitting a weight training plateau.
You see, training intensity and volume are DIRECTLY related, and are part of a balanced equation that determines your total net progress. As one variable increases, the other must DECREASE. So to all of you who are “stuck” on a weight training plateau, you must begin to carefully regulate your volume and frequency!
Decrease the number of sets that you perform for each muscle group somewhat, and consider inserting an additional rest day in between workouts. If by doing this you begin coming back to the gym stronger than you were before, you’ll know for sure that you were overtraining. A 25% reduction in weight volume and workout frequency is usually all that is needed in order to make steady, uninterrupted progress in muscle size and strength and either avoid or break out of a weight training plateau.
So instead of panicking and reaching for the latest Muscle Mag searching for some new “ground breaking” routine, simply understand that the body has a finite amount of recovery ability and that as you grow stronger, you will use up an increasingly greater amount of this reserve on each set. So reduce the volume slightly, consider inserting an additional rest day, and that is most likely all you’I’ll need to blast yourself through any weight training plateau and right back into a new phase of awesome growth!
And another important aspect of effective bodybuilding training is your pre-workout meal. Make sure that you’re eating correctly before every one of your workouts in order to achieve maximum muscle gain…
To learn more insider techniques for building a powerful, muscular body, check out Sean Nalewanyj’s The Muscle Gain Truth No-Fail System. Also be sure to grab a FREE copy of Sean’s terrific new Training e-book: “8 Things You MUST Do To Build MAXIMUM Muscle” available in the ‘Free Bodybuilding Program Books’ section on the right side of this page and get the full scoop on avoiding a weight training plateau in your workout routine.