Those of us who are familiar with weight lifting know that sometimes gains and progress can slow down. In the first couple weeks and even months, progress in the gym can be super-fast. However, there comes to a point where gains start to diminish. There are a heap of reasons why this happens. Maybe you aren’t training as hard as you were in the beginning. Maybe you aren’t eating enough to gain more muscle mass. Maybe your body is naturally limited at a specific size or performance level.
Whatever the reason is that is making your results plateau in the gym, there are a few tips and tricks on how to overcome this problem. If you’re having trouble making gains in the gym, the first thing I would recommend is to eat more. Eat more protein and fat. Be sure that these protein and fat choices are coming from a healthy source. Not enough fuel is the number one reason why weightlifters fail to put on additional muscle mass. Your body can’t function if it doesn’t have the proper energy sources. If you are doing an intense training program, then you need intense fuel. You need a lot of protein and a lot of fat. You may think of fat as the enemy, but it’s really not. Our bodies need fat to survive. And if you have an intense training program, chances are you will burn through that fat very easily and won’t have to worry about having excess fat. Additionally, if you are in a program that is intended to put on muscle mass, then you need to be eating excess calories. If you are calorie deficient, then you won’t make any progress.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in the gym who are trying to add on muscle mass is that they try to gain weight in the gym and lose weight with their diet. This doesn’t work. If you want to stay lean and healthy then this is great. However, if you want to put on muscle mass, you need to eat like it. So don’t try to lose and gain weight at the same time. If you are lifting to gain weight, eat like it too. Whether you’re trying to gain weight or lose weight, pick a direction and be consistent throughout your diet and exercise.
The next tip to overcome a progress plateau in the gym is to change up your lifting routine slightly. There comes a time in every training program where the same old routine becomes a little boring and I become less motivated or excited to get in the gym. This lack of excitement can lead to less intense training for some people. And less intense training means less progress. For this reason, if you experience a plateau in the gym, one of my favorite tips is to change something slightly. Here’s an example. I don’t mean completely overhaul your entire routine. But perhaps modify one of your main exercises temporarily. One of my favorite and most reliable examples of this is to make one of my first exercises a superset. For instance, if my bench press progress has halted, then I will make a superset out of it. In other words, I will do a set of incline dumbbell flies then immediately do a set of on the bench press without taking any rest. This has a great effect on our body and mind. For one it will reengage our excitement and help us get through the tough repetitions. Another benefit is that it tricks our body into something new, forcing our body to adapt to the unfamiliar circumstances. I’ve noticed after just a week or two of changing my routine with a superset, I am able to lift more when I go back to my normal routine. It’s as if my body needs something new and challenging to break through the next level of gains. Another example of me adding a superset is on deadlifts. If I notice my deadlift gains halting, then I will do a set of rows right beforehand, then go straight into deadlifts without any rests.
The third and final tip I have for getting past a progress plateau in the gym is to take time off. Take a week off from heavy lifting. This may seem contradictory at first, but maybe your body is trying to tell you something. Perhaps it’s wise to take time off because your muscles may not be fully recovered. That is a common reason for progress plateaus. Time away from heavy lifting will ensure your body gets the recovery it needs. Coming back from a week or rest, you may notice that your excitement is reignited again since you had some time away from lifting. This helps your body and mind to have a healthy restart to building up momentum in the gym.
If you have ever lifted heavy for muscle mass, then there’s a good chance you have hit progress plateaus at some point. This happens to virtually all of us at some point. The good news is there are ways to get around this roadblock. Adjusting your diet, modifying your exercises, and taking some rest are all surefire ways that have helped countless people get past their weight lifting plateaus.
What are your tips for getting past a progress plateau?