There is no point in your bodybuilding journey where you will experience gains faster than you did when you were first starting out. During those first few months of training you could do seemingly anything at the gym and still enjoy rapid muscle gains with minimal if any body fat accumulation. “Bodybuilding is easy” you say, figuring you have amazing genetics and will one day compete at the Olympia level. Then everything suddenly grinds to a hault – you’ve hit your first plateau.
Unfortunately your body isn’t onside with your muscle gaining plans. In fact, your body has no desire to change at all. This mainly stems from evolutionary functioning of the body – putting on more muscle will slow you down and require you to consume more food each day to meet your basic needs. Given that food is no longer scarce and we get around by driving or public transit these really aren’t issues in today’s modern age. Your body however just hasn’t caught up and probably won’t anytime soon.
Don’t worry guys – just because you hit a plateau doesn’t mean your gains are over. Making some simple adjustments can be enough to get that growth phase going again. If you are stuck on a plateau check out our tips below to help you break through it.
Easily the biggest reason guys can’t make gains is due to their weak hormone profile. Testosterone is absolutely crucial for putting on muscle and if your levels are low you will struggle to make any meaningful changes to your physique. Just look at the difference between men and women’s physiques. Women typically carry very little muscle and that’s due to their lower testosterone levels. Men on the other hand produce testosterone at much higher levels and can therefore have a much easier time building muscle.
The most effective way to kick-start your testosterone levels (and break through that plateau) is to take a natural testosterone booster. In recent years we’ve seen an explosion in testosterone-boosting products hitting the market as more people wake up to their benefits. For someone who is not familiar with the supplements that are available, we’ve created a guide to break it down for you. Click here to check out our testosterone booster guide.
Most guys tend to underestimate the amount of dietary fat they need in order to gain mass. In fact, many bodybuilders will take in more of their calories from fat than protein or carbs! Healthy dietary fats will boost your testosterone levels and give you the extra calories you need to hit your daily macros. If you are currently consuming 180 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat try changing that up to 120 grams of carbs and 80 grams of fat. Don’t hesitate to increase the ratio of fat in your diet if you find it results in faster gains.
If you aren’t getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night you simply don’t want to be a bodybuilder. You see, sleeping is absolutely crucial to getting big. It’s when your muscles get repaired the most and it’s when your body produces the most protein. By short-changing yourself on sleep you will guarantee that your gains are slow or even non-existent.
Unfortunately this is where a lot of people mess up even though it should be the easiest part. Figure out what time you need to go to sleep in order to get your full 8 hours of rest and no matter what you are doing at that time, stop and go to sleep. It’s really as simple as that. No amount of training or dieting will compensate for lack of sleep.
This tip applies more to guys who have been training for a bit longer. Maybe you were making solid gains at first but they have since slowed to a crawl. In that case, a change of scenery might do the trick. If you stay at the same gym for too long you start doing the same exercises too many times and as a result your body gets used to them. When your body gets used to a movement it becomes less effective. New gyms also tend to motivate and excite people leading to more frequent trips and harder workouts.
Does your workout consist of a variety of isolation exercises? While that might have resulted in gains when you first started it simply won’t work after your initial noob gains have been achieved. Compound exercises allow you to work many muscle groups at the same time and lift very heavy weight. What do you think will result in a bigger body – curling 35 pound dumbbells or bench pressing 225 pounds? Compound exercises also make it easier to progressively overload the muscles which brings us to our next point.
Increasing the weight over time, or progressive overload, is crucial to making your muscles grow. You see, your muscles will only get as big as they need to handle the average workload they face. If you are bench pressing the same amount of weight now as you did a year ago why do you think your body will get bigger?
Focus on increasing those weights every few weeks even if only by 5 pounds. It might not seem like a lot but 5 pounds per month equals 60 pounds after a year. Do you think you will get bigger by having your bench press increase from 185 pounds to 245 pounds? You better believe it will!
The best way to make sure you are eating the right foods, performing the right exercises and increasing the weight over time is to keep a workout journal. Whether you do this in a notebook or on an app is up to you as long as you do it consistently. This information is extremely valuable as it makes pinpointing your weak points easier. If, for example, your bench press hasn’t increased for 2 months you can do some accessory exercises targeted at improving your bench press. However, if you don’t actually write down this information in a journal it can be hard to remember.
A lot of the time plateaus are simply self-inflicted. They are the result of having low testosterone levels, not consuming the right foods, not increasing your weight over time and not getting enough sleep. In fact, pretty much everyone who claims to be stuck on a plateau is not doing one or more of these things correctly. Commit to making the necessary changes to your program and you will smash right through that plateau!
Author: James / Founder of BroScience
I started this site back in 2014 because I was tired of the fitness industry telling guys like me lies.
Getting ripped doesn't have to be so hard... I'm here to give you the truth! The no bullsh*t advice.