There is nothing more frustrating than busting your ass in the gym, eating clean and seeing no progress! Many people experience this issue many times within their fitness journeys, but why?
Well to start, our bodies are a very complex and tricky thing. First things first, if you are experiencing a plateau don't get frustrated, this is actually a good thing. It means you've been consistent with your workouts and nutrition enough that your body has caught up and adapted to what you're doing!
Our bodies are a incredibly complex and sophisticated thing. Our bodies will naturally adjust and adapt to what we do on a regular basis so that we can become more efficient at that task. Ever see those construction workers with the big belly's and wonder how they look like that due to the amount of movement and activity they undergo in a days of work. It's because their bodies are use to that type of movement and exertion every day. So how do we overcome this adaptation thing?
Hopefully, if you are reading this article you are also tracking your calories/macros using some sort of tracking app. If you are not, read into our other blog posts about macro tracking and then come back to this article.
Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose body fat, you need to either be at a caloric surplus or caloric deficit. So for instance, to maintain your current weight your caloric intake should be 2400, to gain weight you must eat above that, to loose, below that. So say you're trying to cut body fat and you have been at a 400 calorie deficit for 4 weeks and your weight loss comes to a stop. That is because your body has adapted and become efficient in running off fewer calories. Try upping your calories to a 200 calorie deficit for a week or two then return to your previous numbers and see what happens. I recommend mini cuts and mini bulks, 4-6 week intervals of each phase. This will allow your body to be constantly guessing what you are trying to do to it, therefore better and more consistent progress.
There are three variables with resistance training we are going to look at: Frequency, Intensity & Type
Adding in more frequency to body parts is a great way to confuse the body. If you're like me you do the typical bro split, but what if I told you to try 3-4 full body lifting day instead? Say when you lift your chest you do a total of 12 sets of various movements. Why not spread those 12 sets throughout the week? You will still accomplish the same amount of work on the chest but you will allow blood back into the muscle quicker and you will keep the muscle sensors open longer! Try this for 2-3 weeks then go back to your normal split and see what happens!
Maybe you are taking too long in-between sets or you are not allowing enough time between sets for your muscle to recoup. Try switching up your rest times!
We are creatures of habit and often get comfortable with our routine. Try breaking free of that! If you're doing mostly cardio, try some high rep resistance training. Sticking to mostly machines? Try free weights. Been doing the same muscle groups together? Switch up your split. And last but not least, try switching up your set/rep range.
You Need Rest
Not seeing improvements could be because your body needs a break. We get in the daily habit of going to the gym and busting our ass. I know you always see the funny meme about rest days. People make those for a reason, its because your body needs rest. Without proper sleep and rest time, your muscles can not repair themselves and by not letting them repair you could be doing more harm then good.
Seek a Trainer
This is what trainers do! Whether your currently working with a trainer or not, if you're experiencing a plateau it might be a good idea to reach out to someone and discuss what's going on. It's always good to listen to an outside opinion and get some feedback that isn't your own. Trainers work with all different body types, ages, shapes and sizes so they have a wide range of knowledge that you can benefit from!