Ugh, the dreaded plateau: besides ‘injury’, it’s the word which strikes the most fear into any bodybuilder. It can stop progress dead in its tracks. It can make even the tiniest muscle gains seem impossible to achieve, and render you unable to lift even a fraction more than you can now. And it can go on for months, if you don’t know how to break out of it.
In my experience, there are generally a few reasons why people might reach a plateau:
- They’re training methods don’t change. This is crucial: you must change up your training methods on a regular basis. Your muscles get used to the same movement patterns, and will refuse to grow. You need to constantly change it up every few weeks and you’ll never plateau through stagnation.
- They don’t eat enough. When people get bigger, they’re overall bodyweight increases, thus their caloric need increases. When bulking, you should always aim to eat a minimum of 15 calories per lb of bodyweight, plus 500.
- They don’t rest enough. Resting on your off days so your muscles can recuperate is vital. Rest and let them repair, grow, and the glycogen levels rebuild.
- They could be overtraining. Train hard, but, don’t over train. If your body is severely stressed and tired, then you need to back off a little. Do fewer sets, and get your training done in quicker time. Certainly avoid dragging training out any longer than an hour and a half at the most. Also, you should ensure you have rest days. I believe training any more than 5 days a week is too much for most natural bodybuilders.
So, if you ever find yourself stuck in a rut, think carefully about what you could be doing wrong, and what you can do to get out of it by utilising the aforementioned points. (Or better still, use these points to avoid plateaus altogether.)