Training plateau – how to improve your results
So, you set a goal for yourself in training and gaining body weight. Perhaps you even made a plan for training and nutrition. For a while, everything went according to your plan, and weight gain was quick. But now your progress has slowed, and you have reached the so-called plateau. In this article, we will talk about how to cope with the training plateau, and how you can improve your results.
Overcoming a training plateau can take quite a lot of effort and time. You seem to be doing everything the same way as before, increase the load and regularly follow a diet, but there are no results. You seem to be frozen in place, and progress is not observed.
Usually, everyone who is just starting a workout in the gym quickly gets in shape and achieves noticeable results. But then the time comes the plateau.
What is a plateau in bodybuilding?
A training plateau is an athlete’s body condition in which the growth of certain physical parameters (strength, muscle mass, endurance, and so on) as a result of muscle adaptation to stereotypical loads stops. It has been clearly proven that muscle hypertrophy occurs only if the stimulating factor is unusual for the musculature. By “unusual factor” is meant overload or a load that exceeds the previous level. To create an overload in bodybuilding, a simple technique is used: a progressive increase in weights at each training session.
Training plateau reasons
There are several main reasons for a plateau in training. Often this is an indicator that you have reached your intermediate peak form. Usually, this happens when there is too sharp a jump to a new level, and the body is physically not ready to move to the next.
The second reason, which is less enjoyable, is overtraining. The growth of indicators is caused by a regular increase in load. If you do not apply constant stress to the muscles, then they quickly adapt to working weights or running volumes, and, as a result, a training plateau sets in. On the other hand, if the loads increase, then sooner or later the moment comes when the body simply ceases to cope with increasing intensity, volumes and weights or speeds.
How to understand that the plateau phase has come?
So, how do you recognize plateau symptoms in bodybuilding and any other sport? Firstly, these are losses in power indicators. Suddenly, you can no longer work with the weight that you easily lifted before. This, not to mention the increase in working weights. This suggests that muscles are no longer recovering as effectively as before. And they can not cope with the load that was previously familiar.
Secondly, you may notice a lack of progress during 2 weeks of familiar training. This lack of progress can be manifested in the inability to perform more approaches to the basic exercise, or inability to extend the training for a short time.
Also, a significant symptom of a plateau in training is the lack of sports motivation. A decrease in motivation may also be associated with personal experiences or illnesses. But most often it occurs due to overtraining of the athlete. It is because of overtraining that it may seem to you that you have already reached your maximum in training and bodybuilding. But actually it is not.
Other significant symptoms are the lack of weight gain – an athlete can even lose 1-3 kg with the same diet, a decrease in overall performance, and fatigue. Also, some bodybuilders experience a loss of exercise tolerance. What does this mean? This is also due to overtraining. It is as if your body begins to respond to muscle loads as it did at the very beginning of your training. There may be severe sweating and shortness of breath, redness of the skin, tachycardia.
How can an athlete deal with the plateau phase?
There are many ways to deal with the plateau phase, and each athlete may have his own option. Firstly, based on the fact that overtraining often leads to a plateau, you need to give the body sufficient rest. The first thing to do is to reduce training volumes by 20-30%. Give your muscles a chance to recover, but don’t give up on training. Change the type of physical activity. A good strategy is to plan your workout breaks. You can include them in your plan and make them regular. For example, it can be a break of one week once a month or 6 weeks. Or, you can take breaks as needed when you feel tired of the load.
Secondly, make changes to your workout plan. Regular changes in exercises and their parameters are the easiest and most affordable technique for muscle growth. The point is not to replace the exercise with another, but to change the technique for this exercise. Do not stop challenging yourself and making exercises technically more difficult, as the body quickly gets used to the same technical implementation. If it’s not hard for you, the chances of gaining muscle mass are small.
The choice of the load is very important to overcome the plateau. Weight should allow you to complete all scheduled repetitions, but no more. Too low a load will not give the desired result. Because you are too high, you will not be able to finish the training or bring yourself to such a state that you will recover for more than one or two days.
Follow the training plan clearly and give yourself a short rest between sets for 40-60 seconds. If you feel you can do more, add another approach. Also, good advice would be to choose an active rest. For example, cycling, tennis or just long walks.
Other methods to overcome the training plateau
It is important to eat healthy food. Nutrition is an extremely important element of the training process. Raise your calorie intake through more frequent meals. Keep track of the nutritional value of consumed foods.
We should not forget that our workouts are also affected by stress at work, insufficient sleep, fatigue from business trips, poor nutrition. It is important to remember that our overall well-being affects the quality of the training. Try to maintain balance in all areas of your life.