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Overcoming Strength Plateau

Muscle Building
A strength plateau is defined as a stage when exercises for a particular muscle group are stuck at a certain weight for a certain number of reps for the last 3 to 4 weeks.

But how do you know if you have hit the plateau? As a beginner, progress in lifting weights is always fast, but does it always remain the same? No If your progress has slowed down after a certain period, does it mean you have hit the plateau? No So as long as one sees even a minute progress in increasing load or reps, that will not be considered as a plateau. What causes a strength plateau? Poor Workout Programming Constantly changing exercises, sets, reps, load without any structured routine. Avoiding increasing workout intensity and opting for a milder and more comfortable routine. Not keeping a record of your workout progress. Poor Nutrition Staying on a huge calorie deficit and specifically not consuming enough proteins throughout the day. Low carb intake thus affecting the glycogen stores. Poor Recovery Not giving adequate rest to the body for recovery. Sleep plays an important role in improving performance, recovery, and alertness. (1) How to break the strength plateau? Progressive Overloading Either increase the load or the overall workout volume by increasing reps or sets. Double progression strategy can be used – workout with a given weight until hitting the prescribed range of reps (like 6 to 8) for two or three sets, then increase the load and repeat the process. Periodization Split your training into different periods and focus on different aspects of fitness. It helps to create a balance between training and recovery. It also helps to gain more strength with time compared to non-periodized training routines. (2) Focus on Sleep As per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep research study, 7 to 9 hours of sleep helps to improve optimal health in individuals and thus performance and recovery. (3) Deload Phase Reducing the overall volume in the gym helps to recover the body from physical stress. Studies have also shown that detraining phase after a training phase helps in similar strength gain as compared to the continuous training program. (4) Right Form and Posture Right form and posture helps to put appropriate stress on the target muscle and thus helps with strength gain. Poor technique also can lead to a plateau. So, whenever you are stuck next time, check the following points Is it a strength plateau and are you not progressing at all? If yes, have you tried increasing overall volume? Is your form and posture correct? Are you eating enough calories and specifically proteins? Are you sleeping for 7 to 9 hours? When was the last time you reduced your workout load (deload phase)? References: 1. Vitale KC, Owens R, Hopkins SR, Malhotra A. Sleep Hygiene for Optimizing Recovery in Athletes: Review and Recommendations. Int J Sports Med. 2019;40(8):535-543. doi:10.1055/a-0905-3103 2. Williams TD, Tolusso DV, Fedewa MV, Esco MR. Comparison of Periodized and Non-Periodized Resistance Training on Maximal Strength: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2017;47(10):2083-2100. doi:10.1007/s40279-017-0734-y 3. Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. Sleep. 2015;38(6):843-844. Published 2015 Jun 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.4716 4. Ogasawara R, Yasuda T, Ishii N, Abe T. Comparison of muscle hypertrophy following 6-month of continuous and periodic strength training. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013;113(4):975-985. doi:10.1007/s00421-012-2511-9

Shubham Malik

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