Plateau? Never heard of it...
What does it mean to plateau? Going to the gym, putting in the effort, attempting to diet and you see absolutely no results.
Your muscles aren't growing, and you aren't getting stronger.
You ask the local gym rats what you are doing wrong, only to be told that you aren't eating enough. Truth be told, how much you are eating most likely isn't the issue; you aren't hitting the muscle fibers the right way!
So, what will it take for you to get "big?" Stop guessing, reading forums, and asking gym rats.
90% of individuals know only the first 3 variables to force muscle growth. Here are the top 7 secret variables that will decimate your muscles and force them to grow!
1 REPS, REPS, AND MORE REPS
When you are training for mass, you'll almost always hear that you should perform 8 to 12 reps, no more and no less.
If you want size, you need to give your muscle fibers stimulus that they have not yet adapted to! Normally bicep curl 20lbs for 8 reps? Drop it down to 15 lbs and shoot for 20!
Increase the blood circulation in the targeted area, feel the burn, and watch as your muscles grow!
If you feel that you are able to do an exercise with slightly less weight and easily complete twice the reps, it might be time for you to get a form check! More reps doesn't mean sloppier form. Keep your form all the way through the larger volume of reps and you are well on your way to 19" legal guns.
2 SLAP ON SOME MORE WEIGHT
Easily cranking out 15 or more reps? It's time for you to slap some weight on the bar or go up a dumbbell or two!
If your normal weight isn't working for you, it's time to upgrade. While we never sacrifice form for weight, it is vital to have a systematic and progressive approach to adding weight.
Not only will you be building more mass, you will get stronger in the process!
I'm not going to tell you how much weight to use; but a good rule of thumb is that you should be struggling to complete your pre-determined number of sets and reps. Remember, it's not about who can swing around the most weight with their ego in the gym, earn the right to use the weights properly.
3 ADD SOME SETS
Many beginners have a stigma from breaking away from the traditional 5x5 program or attempting more than 3 sets!
You already know by now we can alter the weight we use and the number of reps we perform, but how about adding a set or two?
Push yourself to exhaustion by using the same working load as before, with the same intensity, for some extra sets.
Ever tried 10 sets of 10 reps on the barbell squat? If not, you have not felt a pump more severe and rewarding in your legs before in your life. If you aren't seeing the growth and development that you want, increase the sets.
4 MORE TIME, MORE TENSION
The most overlooked and simple variable on the road to more mass is time under tension!
Performing exercises to a tempo has many benefits beyond helping you build size: endurance, strength, and mental conditioning.
Lifting to a tempo is an efficient and simple way to force your muscles to grow and maximize results.
One of the most common tempos that you can try on your next workout is 3 seconds up/down (concentric), 2 second hold (isometric), and 2 second release (eccentric).
Don't underestimate the tempo variable, you'll be lucky to do 50% of your normal work load with the tempo we suggested.
5 VARYING RANGES OF MOTION
No, we aren't talking about the quarter reps you see "that guy," doing on the bench press with 3 times his PR!
We mean the hard part of the lift, the part that makes your muscles contact and scream.
Focusing on an isolated range of motion in the flexion stage will force your muscles to work harder, longer, and without a break.
Varying ranges of motion works best for isolation movements, we wouldn't recommend them on compound movements like a deadlift.
Combine range of motion with at a tempo and you are in for self-induced personal torment like you've never endured before!
6 CHANGE THE ANGLE
You've noticed the giant row of various benches at the gym.
You probably have an equal amount of incline and flat benches and if you're gym is extra fancy you might have a decline bench or two.
Changing the angle on an exericse you perform can increase/decrease the range of motion, make the exercise more difficult to perform, and force the activation of various synergist and stabilizer muscles.
Next time you pick up an EZ Curl Bar for your bicep curls, walk yourself on over to the preacher curl bench and get to work.
Take notice of the differences you feel versus the traditional curl.
If you change up the angle you are on your way to smashing any plateau or preventing one from occuring.
7 SWITCH THE GRIP
Although changing the grip can change the name of the exercise altogether, by changing the grip you can hit the muscle fibers and accompanying stabilizers/synergists in a new way like you never have before!
Adjusting from a pronated grip to a supinated grip is a simple way to give your body new stimulus to adapt to.
Flipping your hands in the opposite orientation is not the only way to switch it up!
By widening or shortening the distance between your grip you can greatly adjust the distribution of work on various muscle groups across the body.
On your next chest day, be sure to widen your grip up and activate 30% more upper chest and feel the difference!
Muscle growth won't always be linear, and there will be occasions where you feel you are plateauing! Take an educated approach and be sure to document your program and your progress!
Don't wait until you plateau to use these 7 secret variables.
Make sure that your form is down solid, you have an understanding of nutrition and you constantly switch up the stimulus.
By implementing these variables and constantly adjusting your routine, you will force your muscles to grow and maximize your results!