A workout plateau occurs when you stagnate on your workout progress despite doing ‘all the right things’ and you put in the consistency without seeing or feeling the progress.
We see our bodies losing weight at a consistent rate to suddenly getting stuck at a specific number. Or we go from building muscle and getting strength gains, to having a period of time where we can’t seem to increase our loads on the weights. This happens when we hit a plateau. It can be very frustrating putting in the work and not reaping the rewards.
The body is a very complex organ and numerous factors play into why exactly this plateau breaks our momentum. The good news is that once you’ve established that you’ve hit a plateau you should be able to get the necessary tools and tips to break through and continue smashing your goals.
Fix your mobility and flexibility
An issue that a lot of people don’t always realize they actually have is poor flexibility and mobility. You start to do an exercise and you initially progress but you start to notice that at some point you stop progressing especially in the bigger more complex exercises such as your squat, deadlift or bench press. If you are not able to use full range of motion and have problems with your flexibility and mobility, trying to progress with improper range of motion could potentially set you up for injury.
For example, if you are doing a squat make sure you have adequate technique and form before adding on to or progressing to a more complex weighted squat or improving on the exercise. If you start an exercise wrong with the incorrect range of motion, you will never fix it later on. You need to fix it before you start increasing weight!
Sleep and recovery
Sleeping more might sound fairly obvious but it is a very important catalyst for muscle gains. Studies show that if you sleep three to six hours per night your strength will be compromised and the fatigue during your workouts will increase. You should always try to get at least seven hours of sleep!
As we progress through the different stages of our non-REM sleep cycle, our breathing will tend to decrease slightly and become more regular. At this stage your brain doesn’t require much activity and as such more blood supply is available to facilitate your muscles, delivering additional amounts of oxygen and nutrients to help muscle tissue regrowth and healing, building of stronger bones and muscles and strengthening of the immune system.
Another essential function of sleep is the secretion of growth hormone. During your deep phase of sleep, your pituitary gland secretes a blast of growth hormone that stimulates muscle repair and tissue growth. Not sleeping enough will thus lead to a sharp decline in the secretion of growth hormone. Growth hormone deficiency is largely associated with reduced exercise capacity and loss of muscle mass.
Unfortunately, we live in a very dynamic and busy world where getting adequate sleep is not always realistic. If you struggle to get enough sleep you have a responsibility to ensure that the lack of sleep is not affecting your hormone levels. This is where supplementation is able to help us maintain our normal levels irrespective of our busy sleep depriving schedules! Alpha Testos is a product that contains testo tribulus, a natural hormone boosting compound, to ensure your body secretes adequate amounts of testosterone and other hormones responsible for muscle growth and tissue repair.
Take a deload week
A common problem most experienced lifters or athletes encounter is continually training for long periods of time with no rest causing your central nervous system to be affected quite rapidly. When you are new to lifting or weight training your central nervous system doesn’t get affected easily and progress comes much faster. In order for your central nervous system to adequately recover, you have to incorporate a deload week or even take a week off training.
A deload week is a week in which you still workout but you pull back on the intensity and volume of your workouts. This will give the body the opportunity to prepare for the next increased demand or load. A properly executed and well planned deload week will recharge your body and restore your testosterone and cortisol levels while allowing your connective tissue to properly repair itself.
To ensure you get the best out of a deload week and optimize your recovery make sure you get adequate sleep as well as sufficient supplementation in your diet with essential nutrients that promote anti inflammatory properties to facilitate and speed up the recovery process. C.O.R.E for Him/Her is a great supplement filled with an abundance of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that supports testosterone and cognitive health. Getting a good dose of calcium, iron and other essential vitamins also helps connective tissue, testosterone and cortisol levels to function optimally to make sure you have a successful deload week.
Rotate your exercises
When you stop seeing physical changes and progress in your workout regime it is usually a sign that your body has become accustomed to your approach and it is time to switch things up and consider a new strategy. By exercising different varieties every day, you give your body less chance of getting used to the activity. In other words, performing the same exercises week in and week out will cause your body to reach a point where adaptation will no longer take place. You become as effective as you can in that specific exercise for the time being.
Choosing different exercises that still train the same muscles will force you to change the loads you use. The variety in these different loads and exercises changes the way muscles fibers are recruited, so your body is unable to pick up a set pattern. This will make you stronger and more inclined to break through the plateau.
Play around with rep ranges
Periodization basically means planning your workout long term to avoid hitting a plateau. The easiest method is to try and keep it as simple as possible. Switch up your rep and load scheme!
A method of training I would recommend is a combination between power building, lower reps (3-5) and hypertrophy, training for muscle mass (8 – 12 reps). If you are stuck on a certain load for example on the bench press at 10 reps, increase the load slightly higher and drop your reps to 6. Work your way up from 6 each week until you eventually reach 10 reps. You will then be at the same rep range as before but with a higher load or weight. Using a combination of both you will be able to properly progress in both lower rep and higher reps.
This is a very basic way of overloading your muscles in order to then properly progress. Remember switching things up regularly keeps the central nervous system guessing, encourages adaptation, progression and stimulation.
If you are able to apply some of these simple concepts, I am very confident you will be able to progress past the point where you feel your body has hit that plateau. We need to consistently change our approach to training to not only break the monotony but also make exercise interesting, fun and challenging. Approaching your training regime and body in the correct way by looking after your recovery, switching things up and ensuring your range of motion and mobility is adequate, you will not set yourself up for failure!