So what is a plateau? a plateau is a sticking point where the body refuses to respond like it used to making it very difficult to build muscle or lose more fat. Plateaus are a part of the process, you will encounter them at some point. It’s inevitable. The thing you need to do is know how to respond to them when they come. Most plateaus can be overcome with a few simple tweaks to your training or diet plan. Most of the common causes of plateaus are stale routines and over training. Today we’re going to fix that. So let’s examine a few tweaks you can do to get past them.
Take a week or 2 off from training.
If you have been training hard for the last couple of months, you might be over worked. This is pretty common and is a major cause of plateaus. The best thing to do would be to take a week or 2 off from training, continue to stick to your diet. Just limit the training. This will allow the body to recover fully and will allow you to hit the gym harder when you go back and start seeing those gains again.
Try a deload
Another thing you can do if you don’t want to take a few weeks off from training is you can do a “deload”. What is a deload you may ask. Well a deload is basically going light for the next few weeks. You will not use the same weights you normally use. You will also go a bit higher in the reps. Think of it as more of an active recovery. You will want to make sure that you don’t max out or go to failure in this deload phase. This technique also allows the body to recover and after a few weeks you can jack up the intensity to where you were before. This should cause the body to respond and produce some results.
A very simple tweak is to try change routines. Since the body adapts very easily to the current you may want to switch it up by training on different days, maybe do some exercises you may never do. You can also even switch up your group on the current exercises you currently do. This will cause a new level of stimulus and will hopefully cause the body to respond by growing more muscle. Another thing you can do is if you are unable to break through a plateau, and you are feeling good, that it is better to increase volume, not deload or take a break. Sometimes all you need to do is add in some more volume at 50-60% intensity, while keeping the intensity of your stalled lift as well. The body may just need additional stimulus to break through.
Believe it or not but another major cause of plateaus is due to diet. If you are in a fat loss phase and you have been sticking to your diet for a long period of time and you are really struggling to lose that last bit of fat. It might be time to increase the calories for the next few days. This will allow your hormonal levels and metabolism to recover from the hard dieting you have put your body through. Don’t worry you won’t put on any fat during this time, you will actually continue to lose more fat since your body will begin to function optimally again. Here’s a case study of a natural bodybuilder going through contest preparation. You can see how his hormones were affected.
On the flip side. If you are trying to gain muscle and are training hard trying to make those strength and muscle gains you might find that you are eating too little. You may need to increase the calories for the next few weeks and see how your body responds. I know most of the times I’ve hit a plateau it was because I wasn’t eating enough. As soon as I increased the calories my body exploded with new growth and strength. That being said don’t over do it and eat so much you get fat. Just increase your calories by about 500 more than what you are currently eating. Monitor your body for the next few weeks if you are noticing too much fat gain then cut back a little bit and see how your body responds.
Last but not least sleep
Make sure you are getting enough, its that simple. 6-8 hours a night.