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BODYBUILDINGPRO.COM Presents: ISSA Trainers - Breaking Through Plateaus Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by ISSA Certified Personal Trainers Presents: ISSA Trainers - Breaking Through Plateaus

"You need to assess your current program as far as your nutrition and training if you want to break through your training plateaus."

Breaking Through Plateaus

If you visited a gym today you would undoubtedly see men and women hard at work to make physical changes to their bodies. The bodybuilding culture once relegated to small, dank gyms and comprised mostly of men has evolved into a mainstream, multi-gender cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, with mainstream acceptance of the lifestyle comes more and more hype and misinformation about what it takes to get continued results. Walk into the same gym year after year and you will most likely see the same men and women with little or no noticeable changes to their bodies. Despite the hard work many put into their workouts, inevitably most people will hit a plateau.

Training Plateaus

A very common problem with bodybuilders is the training plateau. Though plateaus are as individual as those training, and dependent upon specific problems, there are simple steps to help break through them. If you are not making gains on your current program, chances are you are doing something wrong. Unfortunately, a big mistake many trainees make is that they faithfully stick to a program that is not producing results. As obvious as it may seem, if you continue to do the same thing, you will continue to get the same results. If you are not seeing results on a monthly basis, you need to reassess your training protocol.

As with any other endeavor you can not achieve greatness haphazardly. You need to have specific, objective goals that are recorded to check for progress. bodybuilding, which is esoteric in nature, is a sport that focuses on the individual, and you need to be scientific about all aspects of your training. You need to formulate specific goals, keep a training journal and periodically check your body composition.

If you do not set specific goals, and if you do not monitor your progress toward those goals, then how can you accurately determine if your are making progress? With the advent of transformation contests, individuals have been given a deadline in which to gauge their progress. You do not necessarily need a contest, but use the same premise by selecting a date in the future, and attaching a specific goal to that date. Once you have a specific timetable and a specific goal, then you need to assess the two aspects of bodybuilding: nutrition, and the training itself.

Many trainees do not have a solid understanding of how their caloric intake relates to their energy expenditure. In order to sustain muscular growth, you need to supply your body with an appropriate number of calories. If you take the BMR of a 150-pound bodybuilder (150/2.2 *24) you would find that his minimum daily caloric requirement would be 2455 calories per day (BMR *1.5). Muscle is metabolically active tissue undergoing catabolism and anabolism on a daily basis.

A pound of muscle requires 25-30 calories a day to maintain, and 100 calories a day to build. In order to gain one pound of muscle our 150-pound bodybuilder would need to increase his calories by 2500 calories per week (2500 calories = a pound of new muscle) or 357 calories per day. If he experienced good gains for about ten weeks, he could increase his total body weight to 160 pounds.

Causes Of Training Plateaus

This is one common cause of the training plateau: his new daily caloric requirement would be based on his current weight of 160 and needs to be adjusted for gains to continue. The same is true for bodyfat loss. For this same 150 pound bodybuilder at a daily caloric requirement of 2455 calories per day, to lose a pound of fat a week he would need a caloric deficit of 3500 calories per week (3500 calories = a pound of fat). After ten weeks, if he were to drop to 140 pounds his new daily caloric requirement would be based on his new weight. It sounds relatively simple, but many bodybuilders do not take this into account. A growth plateau generally means you need more calories, which should come from complex carbohydrates. If you make the needed nutritional adjustments, then the next aspect to focus on is your training.

The other possible problem if you hit a plateau could be your training. Your problem could be associated with overtraining, under training, or improper training intensity. This is why the concept of periodization is so important to your training progress. As with your nutrition, you need to make the appropriate adjustments as you increase or decrease in bodyweight. You need to make a concentrated effort to progressively increase your intensity to meet your overall goals.

This is where having a specific goal with a specific timetable is important. Also, as with your nutrition, you need to keep a training journal or you will not have any basis to compare against to gauge if you have indeed made progress.

Your training style has to be conducive to your intended goal, whether that be muscle hypertrophy or strength gains. You can not train the same way for an extended period of time and hope for gains. Try to manipulate your set, repetition, and exercise order. Spend more time focusing on the eccentric phase of the exercise rather than the concentric phase.

Your muscles need to be presented with new stimulus every 4-6 weeks to progress, and if you do not keep track of your training you will eventually hit a plateau. The bottom line is that you need to emphasize the basic exercises, train hard, train to failure, progressively lift heavier and periodically adjust your program.

You need to assess your current program as far as your nutrition and training if you want to break through your training plateaus. You need to formulate specific goals, keep a training and nutritional journal, and periodically check your body composition to accurately gauge your progress, or lack thereof. Have the courage and foresight to change your nutritional and training program and you will blast through your plateaus.

If you have any questions or comments please contact


Patrick Gamboa B.S.

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