Some tips to help you get through your strength training plateau

If you train 5-6 times a week to reach your strength and fitness goals, there comes a time for us all where we struggle to keep focused and we begin to plateau. No matter how much you train, sometimes you just hit a wall and realise that nothing much is happening anymore.

So here we give you some tips on how to beat that training plateau and kick-start your fitness regime all over again.

Be realistic with your expectations

You won’t get a six pack in six weeks after hitting the beers for six years. These goals take time and dedication – there are no quick wins here, so don’t expect them.  Good advice is to always make a note of your progress so you know where you are and when you switch your training up you can start to see the changes. This is important as it is easy to imagine things are better or worse, but if you have the hard facts in front of you, it’ll spur you on.

Diet is key, so keep an eye on it

If your training is important, you should know your diet is also key to your success. You know the drill, no sugars, no fizzy drinks, cakes, sweets, junk food etc. Cut out the carbs and add in the protein and get rid of the rest. Low fat protein mainly poultry, meats, fish like tuna and salmon and of course lots of fruit and vegetables.  Don’t just rely on muscle gainers and protein shakes to hit your strength goals.

Hit those muscle groups – hard!

To put on muscle and lose any fat you need to shift, you need to hit muscle groups hard. This means strength training all muscles groups at least twice each week, if not three times a week. But if you are starting to feel you are at a plateau, then unfortunately you are going to have to up your game and try and add another session in to stretch yourself to 3-4 and up to reps. So, if you are doing 3 sets of 10 do 2 sets of 12 – even if you break it up.

Make sure you eat and drink accordingly to your training

Some rules of thumbs for training, but flex and change as you see fit.  Here are some tips.

Take a pre-exercise protein shot before training of 20 grams of protein

If you are planning to exercise for more than an hour, eat or drink another 20 grams of protein or carbohydrate in order to keep going.

We know we are in a world of protein, protein, protein, but don’t skimp on the carbohydrate, especially if you are training hard 4-5 times a week.

Always factor in rest

It is easy to get obsessed with your training and feel the need to partake in it every day. But you need to factor in rest at least one to two times a week. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do nothing, do some active recovery; which means going for a walk, cycling to a beauty spot, or a short run. You can still exercise but give your body a break from the intensity to ensure there is some rest and recovery and let your muscles heal and grow.

Do some cardio

For weightlifters, the idea of doing some cardio fills them with fear as they see it as a form of exercise that goes against their fitness goals – but it isn’t. Cardio is a good exercise to do, it is great for your health, burn calories and fat and can even help develop muscles. Getting in a good 40-50-minute cardio session at a moderate intensity is a good thing and won’t impact on your muscle growth. So, don’t run away from a cardio session.

Change the time and intensity of your training 

If your current training programme isn’t getting the results you want, then maybe it is time for a change. The body responds when you shock it, give it a variation of movement and dial up the intensity. For example, switch from 3 sets of 12 to 4 sets of 8 or alter the weights up and down for each set. Variation and even lower weights can still result in ‘gains’. Another thing to consider is the time you workout. Some people are morning people others are evening or lunchtime. For example, Cortisol, a natural muscle-breaking hormone and testosterone and usually higher in the morning for most people. Obviously, this varies from person to person. But changing the time of your workouts may heed results as your body reacts to the new routine.

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep

Sleep is extremely important if you are training a lot. Rest and recuperation are key to any athlete’s performance. Sleep enhances muscle recovery via protein synthesis and the release of human growth hormone. If you don’t get enough sleep you are not enabling your body to repair. Plus, you will definitely underperform when you come to lifting weights and working out. If you don’t have enough sleep not only will you be tired, but you also probably won’t be as motivated to hit the gym, and if you do, you will likely complete a shorter, less effective work out. So, just get some sleep!