There is nothing more discouraging than hitting a plateau. One week you floating on a progress high. Only to come crashing down when you are no longer making that same amount of improvement.
You could be asking, why? It could be due to many different factors. Either you are not training enough or you are training to little. Also, you could be eating too much or you may be starving your muscles. Truly, the answer to this really does vary from person to person. The key to finding out what area you need to tweak relies on reflection.
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Reflect back on your workout, diet, rest, and supplement regime. Here we will be looking at how you can change these factors to smash past that plateau.
#1 No Progress In The Past Two Workouts
When it comes to building muscle, the key is to be progressing bit by bit every week. It doesn’t have to be huge. Maybe adding a couple of extra reps or increasing your weight by 5%. They are little progressions that all lead to muscle creation.
However, a red flag should arise when you are not progressing at all. Meaning that across all exercises you have not had any progress. This is a huge indicator that it is time for a change.
#2 There Is A Lack of “Umph” In Your Workouts
If the past few workouts leave you feeling depressed, down, or overall not in a great mood. It may be time to take a rest period. Our bodies respond with being overstressed and overworked by producing cortisol. This cortisol response is your body attempting to tell you to take a break. So if you are feeling overall not great about your workouts and are only training at 50%. Your best bet is to take a minute to recalibrate and take it easy.
#3 Variances In Heart Rate
When it comes to overtraining syndromes there are two types:
1.) Sympathetic Form: Common in physical activities such as sprinting or fast explosive heavy lifting. This form affects your resting heart rate by causing it to be excessively high. Essentially, your heart is overall much faster than it’s normal state.
2.) Parasympathetic Form: Common in endurance type of activities such as higher rep training or long cardio sessions. In this case, your heart will have an overall decrease. Meaning that you might find it harder to complete your workout. Also, you may find yourself slipping in progress.
#1 Plan to Put Your Feet Up
A good rule of thumb is that you should plan a week of recovery every six to eight weeks. Within this week you should really give your body a complete break. Excluding even cardio. The advantages of this break is that:
- Recovers your Central Nervous System
- Allows your joints and ligaments to recuperate
- Gives you a definitive goal to work towards to every six to eight weeks
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#2 Gather Your Metrics Beyond Your Scale
Weight can be a highly deceptive thing. When you are only focused on your weight you are losing or gaining it is easy to be discouraged. This is mostly because as you progress and your fitness goals become harder, they become harder to reach for. Meaning that losing an extra five pounds is straightforward. However, cutting down to 15% body fat is a goal that will take much longer.
So instead of using only your scale, you can do the following:
- Take Consistent Photos: Maybe once per week or once per month. This allows you to have a clearer image of how your body is changing. Rather than how quickly the scale is moving.
- Write Down Your Measurements: You can do this the old fashion way of using a tape measurer and writing it down on a piece of paper. Again this allows you to track the changing shape of your body.
- Track Your Body Fat Percentage: Using a simple body caliper, will get the job done. With this tool, you can further hone just how much progress you are making and where.
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#3 Reflect on your Macros
Because your body has changed from the point that you had originally started from. Your nutrition has to change too. Consider adjusting the amount of macros you are eating. Not simply increasing your overall caloric intake. Meaning add more whole meals, rather than eating more calorie dense snacks.
#4 Cut Back On The Protein
You read right. A high protein intake can actually be holding you back. Essentially, protein isn’t so easy for your body to process. An increase in protein can actually put your body under stress, which can result in a change in hormones. Studies have linked high protein intake with cortisol release. This is bad set-up if you are looking to build muscle.
#5 Adjust Your Fat Intake
Good hormonal health is linked to a healthy intake of fat. Hormonal health is paramount when it comes to muscle building. As optimal testosterone levels are the key to healthy and steady muscle gain. Good sources of fat such as avocados, cashews, eggs, and macadamia nuts. From these nutritious sources of fat, your body will be boosted to reach your next goal.
#6 Supplement Common Deficiencies
Supplements can be a great way to unlock your next fitness goal. However, that everyday multi-vitamin may not be doing the trick. A smarter way to chose your supplements is to find gaps in your existing diet. A very common example is D3. Vitamin D3 is very common deficiency and it also supports the production of testosterone. So finding gaps like that are a great way to beat that plateau.