If you’ve been consistently hitting the gym with the goal of increasing your strength or muscle mass, you’ve likely experienced the dreaded ‘plateau’ – a period of time in which little to no change occurs. In other words, you’ve slowed, or even completely stalled, in your progress towards muscle growth.
Plateaus are frustrating and can happen frequently. However, by incorporating some different methods and scientifically-proven techniques, you can break out of one, or avoid them altogether. Here are five proven methods to bust through training plateaus.
Training twice per day is a highly effective, but underutilized, training method in the realm of bodybuilding.
When considering two-a-days, the two biggest and most obvious barriers stopping people from this approach are: the ability to fit two workouts into their daily routine, and their ability to recover.
If your schedule allows for two workouts per day, assess your other growth factors to ensure you’re set up for success. Make sure you’re optimizing your recovery with a diet to support the added energy output. To this point, enlisting advanced supplements such as Pre-Kaged and Re-Kaged to fuel your body pre- and post-workout is a good first step. Also, make sure you’re getting a solid night’s sleep to allow your muscles to recover and grow. If all these factors are in place, then two workouts per day may be the missing piece in your regime.
Many factors that support the use of twice-per-day training, including:
Applying two-a-days may seem confusing at first – how can you optimize your sessions without burning out? A common approach is to split your workout in half and add one or two exercises per session. This allows for greater performance per session, as the shorter duration helps you avoid a decline in energy as the session progresses. Additionally, over the course of the day, it achieves extra total training volume (i.e., sets and reps), both of which are key factors in hypertrophy.
While you’re probably already consuming a high quantity of protein, new research shows you can benefit further from increasing the quantity even higher.
Specifically, these studies found that increasing protein intake to as high as 4g per kilogram of bodyweight (around 2g per pound) resulted in the participants gaining more lean mass while also losing fat mass (Antonino et al., 2014).
This intake is quite high and possibly not sustainable long term, however, in the short term, it may give your body the extra push it needs to grow. On average, participants consumed over 300 grams of protein per day. As a safety precaution, the researchers also monitored the participants’ blood for important markers of health, such as kidney and liver enzymes. They found no detrimental effects, even after 12 months of such a high intake.
When your body is stuck, enlisting the help of an elite trainer is a solid solution. However, this may not be practical for everyone. In this case, you can enlist Kris Gethin’s expertise, and make use of his free Dramatic Transformation Principle (DTP) training system. This specific training style has been utilized by millions of people around the world and is easily available online.
The benefit of DTP training is that it puts your muscles through a complete workout in only a few sets, targeting multiple mechanisms of hypertrophy and hitting both the type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers (fast and slow).
When combined with Pre-Kaged and In-Kaged for their amino acids, DTP methods can drive this nutrient-rich blood to the muscles and quickly increase muscle protein synthesis to help you grow.
Additionally, if you’re trying to burn fat, or lean out at the same time as you build muscle, DTP may be the answer. Due to its metabolic nature, this type of training can quickly increase growth hormone levels, heart rate, EPOC (post-exercise oxygen consumption), and your metabolic rate to help you continually burn fat long after you’ve finished your final rep.
The DTP method is simple, yet brutal. Perform 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10 reps for the first five sets on any compound exercise. After this, work your way back up doing 5 more sets at 10, 20, 30, 40, and finally 50 reps – totaling10 sets of the same exercise. Rest periods can vary between 40 seconds and 3 minutes. You’ll be guaranteed to feel the burn and stimulate the muscle into growth.
If you’re not already doing so, loading up with creatine, such as Kaged's Creatine HCI, is one of the quickest and simplest ways to help bust through a plateau.
On over 200 different occasions, creatine has been scientifically shown to improve aspects of performance, strength, muscle growth, boost anabolic hormones, and even improve health. Unlike many other methods and principles, the best part of creatine is that it works quickly - providing noticeable improvements in only five to seven days. Creatine HCl is unique in that it is a highly concentrated and soluble form of creatine.
Along with creatine, the other ingredients included in Pre-Kaged are a very easy and sensible addition if you need that extra push to help overcome a plateau. For example, caffeine, L-Leucine, and L-Citrulline have been individually shown to enhance fat oxidation, spark protein synthesis, increase 1 and 10 rep maxes, boost energy and focus, increase your metabolism, and help you get more total volume per workout—a key factor in muscle growth.
This same recommendation also extends to Re-Kaged, with evidence showing the importance of a high quality and fast-digesting protein after a hard workout. In one study (Andersen et al., 2005), researchers witnessed a 22% increase in muscle fiber size, simply by adding in a post-workout shake - talk about busting through a plateau!
If you aren’t currently taking your supplements consistently, try adding in a minimum of Pre-Kaged and Re-Kaged to get performance-enhancing nutrients around your training sessions.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, another great strategy is to manipulate your training split and volume by performing a deload, followed by an over-reaching period.
If you’ve been exercising nonstop for several weeks, your body may be in dire need of a few days off. This can help you fully recover, increase anabolic hormones, reduce cortisol, give your joints some rest, and replenish your energy levels.
Following a few days off from training, or deloading, you can perform a mini over-reaching session. This inclusion can push you beyond your normal limits, which, as we know from the adaptation and overload model, is key for growth.
Perform your normal workout with half the volume (i.e. 2 sets instead of 4) and stop 2-3 reps before failure.
Perform your normal routine with 20% more volume while also adding in advanced training techniques such as forced reps, drop sets, DTP, and supersets.
This method alone can shock your body into new growth. Give it a go every 5-10 weeks and see how both a deload and over-reaching week benefit you!
If you’re currently experiencing a plateau, don’t write-off your progress. Utilize one or more of these five effective methods to blast through it and get your results back on track.
As long as the staples such as diet, exercise, and supplementation are in place, these methods will give your body the stimulus it needs to take your results to the next level.
Andersen, L. L., Tufekovic, G., Zebis, M. K., Crameri, R. M., Verlaan, G., Kjær, M., & Aagaard, P. (2005). The effect of resistance training combined with timed ingestion of protein on muscle fiber size and muscle strength. Metabolism, 54(2), 151-156.
Beck, T. W., Housh, T. J., Schmidt, R. J., Johnson, G. O., Housh, D. J., Coburn, J. W., & Malek, M. H. (2006). The acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 20(3), 506-510.
Earnest, C. P., Snell, P. G., Rodriguez, R., Almada, A. L., & Mitchell, T. L. (1995). The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 153(2), 207.
Warren, G. L., Park, N. D., Maresca, R. D., McKibans, K. I., & Millard-Stafford, M. L. (2010). Effect of caffeine ingestion on muscular strength and endurance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42(7), 1375-87.
Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., ... & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 6.
Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., ... & Ivy, J. L. (2008). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1), 17.
Antonio, J., Peacock, C. A., Ellerbroek, A., Fromhoff, B., & Silver, T. (2014). The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 19.
Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
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