If you've been lifting for any amount of time, chances are you're going to hit a workout plateau. Don't worry, it's not the end of your gains as you know it.
Every single lifter, at one point or another, is going to have workouts that just don't feel right, they don't go up in the weight they lift, they don't have the energy needed to get through a good workout, and they just feel tired and sluggish.
That happens, and will always happen from time to time. The problem is, if it happens often, and you find yourself struggling to keep increasing the weight you lift, or the amount of reps you get.
If you're feeling tired, sluggish, and not very energetic when you hit the gym… and you find that the amount of weight you're lifting is staying pretty stagnant, chances are you've hit the dreaded plateau stage.
Again, don't get too worried because it happens to all lifters. It's almost impossible to have an incredible workout every single time you step foot in the gym or increase the amount of weight on all of your lifts each time you workout.
It can get tough to increase the amount of time or distance you do your cardio, as well as to keep increasing the amount of reps you lift. So, if you find yourself struggling in the gym, and you just don't feel like you “have it” and you might have hit a plateau… don't get too worried.
We all hit plateaus… it's just the body's reaction to trying to stay in its comfort zone. The human body doesn't like being pushed to its limits, it will respond by trying to get back to a comfort zone. So, don't freak out if you feel you might be hitting a plateau. Here are 3 simple things you can do, right now, to either avoid hitting that dreaded plateau, or bust through one if you're in one.
1) Try and keep your workouts under one hour. Weight training sessions shouldn't be a marathon. Get in, do your lifts, and get out. Make sure you're only working 2 to 3 muscle groups at a time, so you can actually make sure your workouts are short and intense. When you start lifting for over an hour, or you try and do more than 3 muscle groups… that's when over training happens. Weight training is meant to stimulate new muscle growth with more overload, forcing them to grow. So go in, get your lifts in, and get out.
2) Do less reps and less sets. The fact is, if you want to gain muscle mass, you only need to overload your muscles with a few sets. The lower reps, if you use more weight, will create the stimulation needed to kick start more muscle growth. Again, over training happens when you try and do more reps, sets, exercises, and muscle groups than you have to. It's not the amount of time you spend lifting that matters, it's HOW you spend that time. Quantity in large amounts can lead to over training, but doing just the right amount of quality reps and sets will get you better results. Always remember, you do not and will not get better results and more gains if you spend more time in the gym. It all comes down to HOW you spend that time. Use it wisely, think quality over quantity, and stick with lower quantity and better quality and you'll see more gains.
3) Make sure you get enough rest. Heavy lifting causes microscopic tears to your muscles. That's why you need to rest up, and get enough proper nutrition… so your body has the building blocks needed to repair that muscle. This process of lifting, resting, and good nutrition is what causes muscles to get bigger. Without enough rest, your body can't recover in time to handle the next workout. So, you're causing damage to muscle fibers that aren't even healed yet. This is why rest is so important. It's because you're actually gaining muscle and growing during rest. This is when your body is rebuilding and repairing muscle, as long as you give it the nutrient needed.
These are just a few of the things you can do to avoid hitting a plateau. Stick with lower reps and sets, use shorter workouts, and get plenty of rest. Do that and you'll be less likely to hit a plateau and you'll find it easier to get out of one.