6 Ways to Bust Out of a Growth Plateau
You’ve been hitting the gym for a while now, and that magical early phase of newbie gains is all but a distant memory. In fact, your results have come to a screeching halt. While other guys are flexing with pride in front of the gym mirror, you’re doing some serious squinting to see any signs of growth. So, what’s a guy to do when he’s stuck in a plateau as big as the Grand Canyon? Here are six simple ways to turn things around and get back into results territory…
1. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME
If you want bigger, better gains, you’re going to have to retrain your brain and be more dedicated on all fronts. This could mean doing an extra workout a week, or waking up that much earlier for crack-of-dawn cardio. On the food front, you’ll need some serious willpower to stay focused and on track. Not only will you have to prepare your food ahead of time (even when you’d rather be doing anything else), you’ll need to carry healthy snacks and meals with you wherever you go. You might even have to turn down some social events if it means staying on track with your nutrition program. This might all sound more regimented than you planned, but the results will be well worth it. And don’t worry; thanks to today’s easy supplement options, eating healthy on the run will become second nature in no time.
2. CHANGE THINGS UP
You probably know the famous quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.” The lesson here is clear. If you want to bust out of your plateau and see different results, you’re going to have to DO something different. When it comes to your workouts, there are countless ways to switch things up. If you’re a regular machine junkie, change to dumbbells instead. If you’re used to high rep ranges, try lifting heavier for fewer reps or challenging your muscles with super-sets. If you could do your workout routine on autopilot, opt for some completely new exercises that will shock your body into serious growth. Don’t let months or years go by doing the same thing over and over again in the gym. Change is the name of the game if you want to stay motivated and take things to the next level.
3. PACK IN MORE PROTEIN
We talk a lot about protein on this site, and for good reason. This mighty macronutrient is the most important part of any meal and a must-have if you’re trying to pack on lean muscle. If your results have been few and far between lately, it could be that you’re not consuming enough high-quality protein from food or supplements throughout your day. Without adequate protein, your muscles will lack the nutrition they need to build, strengthen, and recover as they should. You might assume you’re already getting enough protein, but many people aren’t. Also keep in mind that as an athlete, fitness enthusiast, or all-around active guy, your protein needs are higher than the average person’s (i.e. couch potato’s) because your muscles need to recover from intense exercise. So, what’s the magic amount? In general, you should consume approximately one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. You should also eat protein at every snack or meal – not save it up for one big binge. Along with helping to build flex-worthy muscles, a constant stream of dietary protein throughout your day will help keep your food cravings in check, your portion sizes in control, and your abs at their leanest.
4. DIAL UP YOUR NUTRITION
While we’re on the topic of nutrition, let’s go a bit deeper. You might think you’re already a healthy eater – and maybe you are – but if you’re looking to really take your results to the next level, you’ve got to do a clean sweep of your diet. Don’t just add the good stuff (like high-quality protein); make sure to cut out the bad. If you’re following the Lean Body Meal Plan, that means tossing any items that aren’t on the approved list. Some of the foods you’ll want to boycott are obvious. We all know to stay away from sugary, processed evils like cakes, donuts, cookies, and candies. Other times, poor nutrition choices can be harder to separate from the pack. Case in point: ketchup. It might be an all-American staple, but just one tablespoon of ketchup can yield about four grams of sugar – as much, or more, than what’s found in a chocolate chip cookie! Sure, four grams might not sound like a lot, but when you’re trying to bring your results from ordinary to awesome, every little bit counts.
5. SEIZE THE POWER OF SUPPLEMENTS
If one of your buddies offered to train alongside you so that you could see better results together than you would on your own, would you accept the help? Of course, you would! Supplements are like that loyal friend. They’re there whenever you need them, giving you that extra “edge” to be your best. They’re also scientifically designed to help you reach specific fitness goals – such as muscle building, fat loss, increased strength, or better performance. If you’ve been suffering from a serious case of the plateaus, adding a supplement to your routine (or switching up the ones you’re already using) could be just what the doctor ordered. While there are a host of great supplements to choose from, you’ll want to start with the basics: some protein powder, RTDs or bars for everyday nourishment and muscle-building support, a creatine supplement to increase exercise performance and muscle mass, a fat-loss aid to help you carve out a great set of abs, and a glutamine supplement for muscle repair and recovery after rigorous workouts. Once you’ve got these in your corner, you’ll be set to go.
6. TURN THE LIGHTS OUT EARLY
Work, eat, sleep. Work, eat, sleep. Do you ever feel like that’s all you do? If so, you’re ahead of many Americans who fail to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. (About 35% of people only clock in at 6.8 hours of shut-eye per evening). So, what’s your bedtime have to do with how well you can bust out of a workout plateau? Without adequate rest, your body simply can’t perform – physically or cognitively – as well as it should. If you’re planning on having the most energized and hardcore workout of your life, you’ll need to arm your body for battle with enough sleep before you go. Show up tired and sluggish, and you might as well settle in for another round of mediocre results. While a busy schedule can make it hard to get a full eight hours of ZZZs, making a conscious effort to turn off your phone, tablet, and other devices a half hour before bed can help ease you into sleep mode.
So long, plateau. With these six simple tips by your side, today can be DAY 1 of your new, revived workout plan. Better results are just around the corner!
About the Author
Nicole Kepic is a freelance copywriter who specializes in health, wellness, and lifestyle writing. She has also had articles published in a variety of fitness and bodybuilding magazines. When she’s not busy writing for her clients, Nicole is either keeping active with her family, curling up with a great mystery novel, or dreaming of her next sunny vacation. To learn more, visit www.nicolekepic.com
Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.