In Part 1, we looked at some of the reasons why less experienced weight trainers get stuck on plateaus of progress. Here we look at some of the reasons why you might be stuck even if you’re not exactly new to the game.
Read part 1 of Overcoming Training Plateaus.
Some weight trainers despair that they’ve come to a plateau when they’re not gaining a lot of muscle, as they assume they should be gaining 50 pounds over the course of a few months. In most cases, rapid, drug-free weight gain is predominantly in the form of added fat and retained water.
Unless you’re particularly gifted physically, very highly disciplined, and have the perfect routine combined with the perfect diet and restful sleep, you shouldn’t realistically expect to pack on more than 3 to 8 pounds of muscle (lean tissue) per month absent steroids or other hard-core anabolics.
Assess your physique; find areas for improvement. When you determine which muscle groups need to be brought up in size or strength or need definition enhanced, keep them in mind when going to the gym and concentrate on working those weak points first.
Ultimately, experimentation is how to find your best muscle building exercises and in what order to place them.
6. Friends and Training Partners
The best aspect of a training partner is that they can provide motivation and encouragement. Actively and/or passively pushing you to do your best is a huge asset and great way to get you off a plateau.
My friend Efuan, while once watching me psyche myself up and out for what I thought was a big deadlift simply said, “man… you’re too strong to fool around with that weight, just pick it up!” And just like that, I was filled with confidence, the psychological barrier crumbled, and I moved off the plateau. Thanks, E!
7. Over- and Under-Training
Infrequent training can lead to a state of undertraining which yields a lack of progress. It is a reliable way to get stuck on a plateau. Similarly, training too frequently can lead to a state of overtraining which yields a lack of progress.
Muscles need time to recover; you can’t just beat on them constantly and expect to make progress. In fact, your muscles aren’t the only things that have to recover after a tough workout; your entire nervous system needs rest too. Taking a couple of days off can restore glycogen, increase anabolism, and allow normal hormonal indexes such as testosterone and cortisol to return to optimal levels.
Overtraining can be a real issue for beginners full of enthusiasm and unaware of their limits just as it is for more experienced lifters trying to push too hard and ignoring their known limits. In either case, one will be unable to get off a plateau because they are always training and, therefore, always recovering from their workouts. Letting the body recuperate fully often promotes new growth spurts and personal bests.