6 Tips: How to Break a Plateau in Bodybuilding
Hitting a bodybuilding or weight loss plateau is something all regular lifters go through, so don’t worry! You’ll soon be out of it and back to smashing PRs and making gains again.
Here’s some tips that will help you get back on your way to smashing your goals.
1. Eat more
First thing I’m gonna say is eat more.. and make sure you’re tracking your calories accurately.
So many people, especially hard-gainers, claim they’re eating enough, but in reality they’re not tracking them properly. The same goes for people trying to lose weight – so often the reason they aren’t progressing is because they track their calories wrong.
We as humans are actually terrible at monitoring our food intake. At the end of the day, if you’re not getting the results you want, you need to be real with yourself, and ask yourself truthfully whether you’re being diligent enough.
2. Sleep more
Sleep is something you can also track as well if you really want to maximise progress and get out of a plateau.
I’ve started watching some Matthew Walker recently and have started to really see the importance of sleep. He says that “sleep is the neglected stepsister in the health conversation today”.
It’s just soooo huge when it comes to performance in sport and in the gym. Having adequate sleep will also help you be more diligent with your diet. When we’re deprived of sleep and tired, our cravings go up. We’re looking for energy and we tend to make worse food choices.
“If there is one piece of advice I would give everyone, it is regularity. If it is the weekend or a weekday, even if you’ve had a bad night of sleep, wake up at the same time.”
Matthew Walker, sleep exper
3. Try a new programme
If you’re bored of your workouts.. get on a new programme.
But be careful not to just ‘programme hop’ to a different one every week. You need to give them a fair amount of time. So be patient.
If you constantly keep changing programmes, how do you know if you’re progressing? You gotta have some consistency, especially with your compound movements. So try your best to give programme time.. BUT if you really feel you need to change it up, go for it.
4. Do a Deload Week
You could be facing a bit of a burnout. The solution for this is to give your CNN (central nervous system) a bit of a break, and get some recovery time.
Take a deload – which is where you can cut your training volume in half or just take a week off altogether
But remember a deload is not simply just a week off with zero training.
A study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that “Strength recovery was better after either light exercise or immobilization when compared with just rest.”
There’s also something I like to call a ‘Life Deload’. This is when you’ve got a holiday coming up, and you know you’re not gunna be training hardcore / got no access to a proper gym. You can taper your intensity up to your vacation week, and whilst away have a natural, ‘life-deload’.
This is something I do when I’m travelling- and then when I come home, I ramp my volume and intensity back up again.
5. Try something new
There’s so many different types of training and workout nowadays, so don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new.
If you’re always doing LISS (Low-Intensity-Steady-State) cardio, 45 mins on the treadmill, maybe try a HIIT (High-Intensity-Interval-Training) class – or maybe even some God-forbid Crossfit! Just anything to break it up a little bit
6. Do some Priority training
If you wanna get out of your plateau, it’s a good idea to prioritise the lifts or exercises that you wanna get really good at. Take the example of squats.
If you want to get better at squats you’re gonna have to prioritise them. So do them first, really focus on them and make them a priority. You can’t concentrate on making massive strength gains on every single exercise in the same period.
When you walk into the gym, or when you make your weekly plan think: ‘I wanna increase my squats for this week’. You could even start a programme which centers around improving that certain movement.
CONNOLLY, D., SAYERS, S. and McHUGH, M. (2003). Treatment and Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 17(1), p.197.
Jahen, G. (2019). Sleep expert Matthew Walker on the secret to a good night’s rest | Financial Times. [online] Ft.com. Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/e6ccdcac-133d-11e9-a581-4ff78404524e [Accessed 16 Jan. 2020].