I hear it all to often. “I have hit a plateau and my results have just stopped, I started well, but for some reason, nothing seems to be working now.”
If you can relate to this, then I urge you to read every word that follows. WHY? Well if you are currently sitting there, feeling like you have no clue of what to do next, then these following tips may just be what you are looking for.
I would go on record to say that by even implementing only 1 of the following strategies, it will give you a bump if not a big kick in the right direction.
However if you implement them all, then I guarantee you, you will break that plateau and be on your way to smashing your goals & PBs (personal bests) once again.
Plateau Breaker #1
Pre/Post Workout Assistance
Lets face it, there are definitely no shortage of pre workout mixtures on the market today. As a young novice growing up in the world of weight training, I would go as far to say that I have had my fair share of these as well.
Some make you feel great. Some make you feel like crap. Some make you feel great, but then after a while the initial effect wears off, then it starts feeling you feel like crap.
I guess the question first lies in, why would you take a pre work out substance?
A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009, (4) Was conducted to examine the effect of a pre-exercise high – energy drink on reaction time and anaerobic power in competitive strength/power of athletes. In addition, the effect of the pre-exercise drink on subjective feelings of energy, fatigue, alertness and focus was also explored.
As expected there was significant difference in reaction performance seen between SUP (Supplementary) and PL (placebo) in both average number of targets struck.
No significant differences between trials were seen in any anaerobic power measure. Subjective feelings of focus were significantly higher during SUP compared to PL, respectively. In addition, a trend towards an increase in average alertness was seen in SUP compared to PL.
This particular energy drink contained anhydrous caffeine, beta-alanine, vitamin C, evodiamine, N-acetyl-L-tyrosine, hordenine, 5-hydroxytryptophan, potassium citrate, N-methyl tyramine, sulbutiamine, vinpocetine, yohimbine HCL, and St. John’s Wort extract.
PLEASE note I am not recommending you go out and buy a pre workout supplement. I am showing you that by choosing the right stimulant, it can provide you with greater awareness & concentration, which in turn will keep you focused on your workout, and not what’s happening on the TV at the gym.
Personally, my pre workout is a Long Black coffee. The caffeine gives me enough alertness to stay focused and get the job done.
If you are currently using a pre workout, and you are in the Plateau stage, STOP taking it, try working out a few times without it, it may be hard at first, but you will then get used to it.
Remember the rule, cycle pre workout drinks, ie: I will train a couple of days with a coffee, then, have a day off. I do this so I do not become dependent on it.
Lets look at Nutrient Timing
The timing of the energy intake and the ratio of certain ingested macronutrients are the likely attributes which allow for enhanced recovery and tissue repair following high-volume exercise, augmented muscle protein synthesis, and improved mood states when compared with unplanned or traditional strategies of nutrient intake.
In a 2006 study by Cribb and Hayes (1) they used two different feeding strategies to determine the impact of nutrient timing, (when to ingest fuels, ie: Protein, (PRO) Carbohydrates, CHO) in regards to an exercise bout, for changes in strength, muscle hypertrophy and body composition, (FAT LOSS).
Participants were instructed to consume equal quantities of a supplement containing PRO, and CHO at a dose of 1 g/kg either immediately before and immediately after each workout, or in the morning and evening of each workout day.
There were significantly greater increases in lean body mass, 1 RM strength, type II muscle fiber cross-sectional area, and higher muscle creatine (Cr) and glycogen levels were found when the supplements were consumed immediately before and after workouts (1)
So if you are not currently taking a pre workout shake containing these ingredients, then you are depriving your body of a faster/full recovery.
In summary, Cribb and Hayes state, “The ingestion of amino acids or PRO, either alone or in combination with CHO, in close temporal proximity to a bout of resistance exercise, appears to significantly increase muscle PRO synthesis (recovery) (2)
Furthermore, if you adopt this strategy during a resistance training program, results in greater increases in 1 RM strength and a leaner body composition” (bonus!)
So lets look at these finding in a language we all know, English.
Summary Of Nutrient Ingestion Findings
Post-exercise ingestion (immediately after no more that 3 hours post) of amino acids, primarily BCAAs, have been shown to stimulate robust increases in muscle PRO synthesis (3)
Post-exercise (within 30 minutes) consumption of CHO at high dosages (8 – 10 g CHO/kg/day) has been shown to stimulate muscle glycogen re-synthesis (3)
Taking a pre workout stimulant, can lead to greater focus and awareness, which can lead to greater workout output.
Pre workout- consume a long black coffee, prepare 400ml water and add 5gm of natural BCAA’s, if you do not like the taste, add some sugar free diet cordial. Start drinking this drink on the way to your workout, also consume during workout. Then train your BUTT off, literally!
Post workout – have a post workout shake. Add an additional 5gm of BCAA’s to this mix. Optional – add 8-10g per kg of CHO source (you can get it here)
60-90 min post workout, consume a hearty meal containing lean protein, CHO, and some fats. Chicken Breast, beans, broccoli, sweet – potato always goes down a treat. Remember to use olive oil when cooking.
Try this combination and see how you go, the key here is consistency, remember the body needs fuel to grow and repair, don’t be good for 1 day and follow this, then skip the next 2 days. You simply will not be able to see the effects that this can have.
Plateau breaker #2
Stop Working Out!
When it comes to training, there is a term called periodising. This is a technique that is used to prime an individual to be able to peak at a certain time. Ie: rugby players need to have peak performance during the playing season, therefore all the training in the off season is geared around this.
You wouldn’t see a professional rugby player try and pack on masses of muscle during the playing season, as they wouldn’t be able to take the field due to muscle soreness.
Although you are not likely to throw on a pair of footy shorts and take the field, you are still only human, and still need to follow these rules, so that your fat loss for eg. Is peaking at a certain time.
Have you ever wondered how sports people just keep getting better?
Periodising is the solution.
Lucky for you it does not need to be as complicated.
A professional sports person can sometimes change up their workout patterns weekly. For the everyday battler however, every 3-6 weeks is suffice.
You need to change your current workout schedule every 3-6 weeks, more accurate timing would depend on how your body adapts to it. For some you will need to change every 3 weeks, others every 6.
You will know, trust me, it will feel exactly how you feel now if you are in a plateau.
Here is an example of a basic change up you could make.
Week 1-3, you are doing 3 sets 10-12 reps of Squats
Week 4-6, you are now doing 5 sets 6-8 reps of squats.
What we are doing here is working through different training modalities.
World renowned strength coach, Charles Polliquin calls this Accumulation, Intensification. Ie: week 1-3 is the Accumulation Phase, in English this means – building and prepping phase, then in week 4-6 it is called the Intensification Phase, in English means – Hard Training, Plateau busting phase.
After each cycle of an intensification phase you will go back to an Accumulation phase and repeat. Of course the fundamentals of reps, sets etc will alter according to your end goal.
Summary Of Periodisation
Change your workouts every 3-6 weeks
Get professional assistance in properly orchestrating your end goal, and devise a plan around this.
Plateau Breaker #3
So I saved this one till last.
Well I personally believe this is the most important Plateau Breaker of all.
Stop with the excuses and self – sabotage. You are only hurting yourself.
From time to time, I need to play devils advocate. Sometimes I need to say things that some people may not like to hear.
But as someone once told me – THE TRUTH HURTS.
I will take that one step further, the TRUTH ONLY HURTS WHEN YOU CANT ACCEPT IT, mmm – think about that for a minute.
If you are wrong, and you can openly admit it, how long does it affect you? Well for me, it lasts all about 20 seconds. Why?
I have trained my brain to be able to remove my emotions from a situation, and then to only see the logic.
What do you see in the image below?
Look at it.
So what do you see?
An old Lady?
Or a young Lady?
When I first saw this image I seen an old lady, when I was told that there is also a young lady in it I initially said, “ No there isn’t, I see an old lady.”
Of course what I saw was right, right?
Well no, what I saw was my version of what was right.
Upon further investigation, I noticed a young lady in this image as well.
I couldn’t believe it, my mind had played yet another trick on me.
At that present moment I could have made 2 decisions.
1- Continue on thinking I was right, and it was only an old lady in that image
2- Accept I was wrong and move on.
I quickly moved on, as I was not going to let an image ruin my whole day.
And that moves me on to my POINT here.
What do you let affect your whole day and sabotage your success?
Oh bummer it’s raining and I need to hang the clothes out
Oh dam, this plane is delayed, what a crappy airline. – Seriously, you are sitting in the sky at 30,000 feet, have paid less than $100 to get to somewhere that would take you 2 days to drive to….
Or maybe it is,
Dam it, I only have 30 minutes to spare for my workout today, and it usually takes 45 minutes, ill just leave it until tomorrow, there’s no point in doing a short workout.
Whatever your version is, YOU must STOP.
Stop emotionally high – jacking yourself.
Seriously, its like your brain is a plane, and you are continuously breaking down the cockpit door to sabotage your destination.
Whether that be hanging out clothes, or thinking whether or not you should go to the gym because you have had a big day at work.
Do you know how I know all this?
Because I have been there, heck, I still am there today, but the key is this.
I have learnt to control my cockpit, and I can now decide if I am going to let a little bit of turbulence get in my way of where I am heading.
Make a decision, plan your week out, and don’t let and stormy weather or turbulence get in your way.
If you only have 20 minutes to workout, sheesh, workout out! 20 minutes is better than no minutes.
If you use the “I don’t know what to do”, excuse! Get your hands on any of our workout systems, they will guide you step by step. And if you cant afford them at this time, that’s cool. Search around this site, we have dozens of FREE videos and articles that you can learn a tonne from.
No more excuses – Just action!
Catch yourself when you hear yourself making excuses, accept the feeling and move on, don’t hide it. It’s like hiding a dead fish under the couch – it will definitely come back and bite you.
Be Cool – cool people rule, excuse the rhyme, but its true. If you want to know how to be cool follow this rule.
Be yourself, the real YOU
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of these 3 Plateau Breakers. I was originally going to have 10, but as you can see, I got a little carried away with these ones.
(Please note: the information contained in this article, is for education purposes only. Please consult your Doctor, Mother or someone smarter than you, before deciding to implement any of the above strategies.)
If you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy:
(1) Cribb PJ, Hayes A: Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy.
Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006, 38:1918-1925
(2) Tipton KD, Rasmussen BB, Miller SL, Wolf SE, Owens-Stovall SK, Petrini BE, Wolfe RR: Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise.
Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2001, 281:E197-E206.
(3) Tarnopolsky MA, Gibala M, Jeukendrup AE, Phillips SM: Nutritional needs of elite endurance athletes. Part I: Carbohydrate and fluid requirements.
Eur J Sport Sci 2005, 5:3-14.
(4)Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009, 6:2 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-2