The Dreaded Exercise Plateau
How To Overcome Bodybuilding Plateaus
Any serious weight trainer has experience an exercise plateau before. For those that have, you know that it can be very frustrating for you. In this article I'll give some tips as to how you can overcome such a plateau.
So what exactly is an exercise plateau? Ok, say you're training hard and week by week you're slowly progressing by adding more weight to the bar or doing more reps, and therefore you are putting on more muscle mass each week. Then all of a sudden your gains in strength and muscle stop for no apparent reason, and you're stuck in a "plateau".
This is a very normal, yet very frustrating stage for a bodybuilder because no matter what you do you cannot seem to progress any further.
Some trainers advise that you should change your routine in order to "shock" your muscles into growth. They change exercises here and there, change the amount of reps, and some implement fancy techniques such as negative-rep training, forced reps, and static holds, in an effort to overcome their exercise plateau.
All of these efforts are usually in vein though. You cannot "shock" your muscles, they simply don't work like that. So stop right there, and listen up.
First of all you need to realize that plateaus are natural and happen to anyone, and there is a fundamental reason as to why it occurs. Overtraining!
Yes, plateaus are often the result of you over training your muscles. They are not due to following the same old workout week in week out.
Here, I will explain some basic physiology to help you understand the correlation between overtraining and plateaus.
When you train hard at the gym it damages your muscles. The tears in your muscle tissue are going to affect your body's ability to recover and replace that muscle tissue.
After leaving the gym your body needs rest and the right nutrients so that it can repair itself. Your body will build additional muscle mass as an adaptive response to the stress placed in your previous workout.
Ok, so you understand that right?
As you get stronger and you begin to lift heavier weights, you are placing more and more stress on your body. This affects your body's ability to recover because it will need more time to heal than before.
So for example a professional bodybuilder places a lot more stress on their body than say a beginner lifter would. So that means the bodybuilder needs more rest time than the beginner.
Sop what does this have to do with exercise plateaus? Everything!
As you start adding more and more weight to the bar you need to compensate for this added stress on your body by giving yourself more rest. You could also achieve this by lowering your workout volume (by performing less sets per workout).
If you didn't give yourself more time to rest or you didn't lower your workout volume, as you started lifting heavier weights your body would become overly stressed and wouldn't have the required time to recover fully before your next workout.
See what I'm getting at?
If you don't give your body the time to recover properly before your next workout, your muscle gains will slow down and eventually come to a halt.
So that's why to overcome any exercise plateau you need to either reduce the amount of sets you perform during your heavy workout, or by increasing your rest days.
When you get stronger, it's time to train less often with fewer sets, simple as that!
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