Before learning how to avoid hitting a strength training plateau, we have to first know what causes one; in a word adaptation.
The human body can quickly learn how to make the most of a situation. So if you are eating about the same number (and types) of calories and doing the same strength training routines, your body adapts to that scenario and trains itself to do the same amount of work more efficiently.
To avoid hitting a those strength training plateaus, keep these four things in mind…
Not getting the right number or types of calories can affect your strength training progress. If you are looking to gain muscle, getting the right amount of protein is very important. Experts recommend eating 1 gram of protein for each pound of body weight per day. Serious bodybuilders tend to eat five or six moderately-sized meals spread throughout the day rather than three larger meals. Eating this way keeps your metabolism functioning at a higher level throughout the day.
If you start to feel tired and you are seeing your motivation going downhill, you may need to take some time off from your routine. This doesn’t mean sit around and do nothing; instead use this time to go for walks, do yoga and spend time with your family. To help avoid hitting a plateau in the first place, plan to take about a week off training every three to four months.
The body repairs itself and builds muscle during the time you are sleeping. If you are not giving it enough time to accomplish its maintenance task, it can affect your progress. Most training adults need seven to eight hours per night.
Some bodybuilders use a training system called periodization where they break down their training year into three periods – each with a different goal. One period might focus on strength, another on endurance, and a third on muscle tone. Because each period focuses on a different goal, the strength training exercises in each period are different thus preventing their body from adapting to a specific routine.
Other athletes use their same strength training routine, but change the intensity of their workout or take shorter rest periods between sets. Or they may use less weight, but add a significant number of repetitions per set.
Some athletes make minor changes such as the order of the exercises in their workouts. The point is there are many ways you can change your routine – even if the changes are small – that will challenge your body so it doesn’t get accustomed to a specific one.
Hitting a plateau can be more emotionally draining than physical. To keep from hitting one, keep these four things in mind when doing your exercises, listen to your body and consistently change things up.