If you’ve been training long enough it’s undeniable that making gains will come in waves in your life. When you first start out, it’ll seem like you’re going to have to slow down on the weights or your clothes won’t fit after the first month or two!
But then your body catches up and gets used to the training. Hitting plateaus and going through weight room slumps is not something outside the norm, yet can be hard to overcome. Use these small tricks and tips to bust through your next down season of gains.
Change Up Your Split
Lifting in a rep range of 8-12 is great and arguably the best for putting on muscle and adding size. But your body can become stagnant when these rep ranges are all you hit. Although your strength may go up a tad when lifting like this, it is underdeveloped when you don’t hit some lower rep ranges. Try taking a break from you normal bodybuilding-type hypertrophy routine and hit something more from a strength aspect that involves lots of heavy, compound movements.
This technique is especially useful with lagging body parts that are hard to bring up, like the legs for examples. Overloading the muscle with some heavy squats will not only increase you strength, but make a stronger, denser muscle belly.
This can be flipped on end if losing weight and dieting down has come to a halt. Try incorporating things like dropsets and using a rep range in the neighborhood of 15-25 when it comes to all lifts. This will work a different muscle fibers and help with things like making a mind-muscle connection, as well as avoiding injury with heavier lifts.
Switch Up Your Diet
Your diet is ultimately what makes up your body composition, so keep this in mind when the gains aren’t coming like they once were. If putting on muscle is your ultimate goal, the first thing you need to check on is making sure your caloric intake is high enough. An average 6 ft tall, 200 lb male burns an enormous amount of calories plus the extra from working out. Find an online calculator to base off of your activity throughout the day and see just how many calories it takes to put on size.
From the standpoint of what you’re putting into your body, try to take the guess work out of it by using an online tracker that tells you macros for everything you take a bite off. This will help you not only get a good idea as to the calories you’re eating throughout the day, but also the crap you might snack on at the office or at home as well.
Cheat meals are an excellent tool to use, especially when dieting down. But notice that I said “tool”. Using these too frequently will result in too much of an insulin spike and lead to fat gain rather than loss. Cheat meals also work on the other end when putting on muscle is your primary goal. If you’re following a steady diet of chicken and rice, it can become incredibly bland and not to mention difficult to eat enough calories this way. The best way to fit in and justify a cheat meal on a clean bulk is after a big workout like for back or legs where energy expenditure is more than other body parts on a different day.
So the next time you have a big squat session, bust out the phone and call up your favorite pizza joint and enjoy some gains in the process.
Give It A Rest Already
One key factor in breaking through a slow time in the gym and in your results is to take a break completely (physically and mentally) from the gym.
Rather than focusing on what you’re going to eat all day, every day, focus on enjoying some time off and let your mind to a break from the daily grind of dieting. Don’t crazy on tons of junk food, but give in to a few indulgences to ease yourself.
Also, taking a break from the weights physically will allow your body to heal up completely of any nagging injuries that you may have. After not hitting the gym for a week or so, you’ll be recharged with a new sense of urgency to get into even better shape than before.
Put it in Play
A slump in the gym probably won’t just come once in your lifetime of fitness, so be ready when these phases do arise. Know when to switch up your routine, how to eat (yet indulge) a little to either put on more mass or drop fat and learn that taking a break every once in a while will not only be good for your body but also good for your mind.