When you start a strength training routine, you will initially advance pretty fast. This is because you will simply awaken your body and its potential. You will quickly realize that you “have it” in you and that you can, in fact, get great results very quickly.
However, after some time you will hit a wall in your training, well not a real wall, but you won’t be able to keep increasing the weight on the bar and you’ll have a hard time putting on more muscle. This is called a training plateau and it usually happens at around 6-8 months after you start your training.
In order to keep improving your gains, you will have to overcome your plateaus and this means making certain changes and adjustments according to your training regimen.
Work with big weights
One of the tricks that you can do for adding strength and size is to focus your training on lifting the heaviest weights possible, with fewer repetitions per set. For example, instead of constantly doing 3-5 sets of 10 reps with lighter weights, work up to a single heavy set of 4-5 reps once a week, pushing until you feel that you don’t have another rep in you.
This is how your muscles will be forced to adapt to heavier loads over time, and you will invest a lot of energy initially, but overall you will feel less tired. This is a shorter training regime that requires more focus and hard work. Remember that you have to warm up properly to push your muscles to the limit.
Learn to take a break
Sure, during the first 6 months you will see great progress and you will feel like you have the strength to train constantly, but when you reach your plateaus it means that your body has reached its current limit. This means that you will not be able to keep up with the same tempo as before.
More intense training means that your body will take longer to get its necessary rest. Our muscles grow when we sleep and rest, so if you feel tired there is no shame in skipping a training session or adding a light training day in between heavier days. This is how your body will get enough rest and you will be able to keep adding weight or volume in subsequent workouts.
If needed, take a week where you use only half the weight that you normally would and do a couple of sets less, and come back stronger than ever.
Eat more food
In a lot of cases, the plateau cannot be overcome because you are simply not eating enough to provide your body with enough material to build more muscle. For example, if you are a fairly lean and healthy young male at around 180 pounds and you work out regularly, you will have to increase your daily calorie intake to around 3800-4000 calories in order to start gaining enough weight.
When you train hard, you need enough nutrients for your body to recover and build more muscle. While about 40% of it will be fat, you can easily shed those few extra pounds of fat later, once you’ve gotten over your plateau.
You will have to increase your calorie and protein intake if you want your gains to increase as well. It’s quite simple, you need to get bigger to lift heavier weights, and adding around 500-600 extra calories a day should allow you to put on more muscle without adding too much fat in the process.
In the end, try to get around 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, so that your body gets everything it needs to keep growing. Working out properly requires some serious lifestyle changes, but this extra effort will help you get the results you want.