You began the school year with the resolution that you’d hit the weight room multiple times a week, you’ve worked tremendously hard to get where you are today, and thankfully you’ve noticed some pretty impressive results—like you don’t even feel sorry for checking yourself out because “damn”. Every week, you’ve been adding weight to your lifts and every week you’ve gotten stronger, but for some reason, in recent weeks you haven’t been able to push through—what gives? Well, you’ve hit a plateau, and it’s your responsibility to get out of it. Here’s what has happened and what you can do to get through it.
You were 180 pounds eating 2,600 calories a day at the beginning of the year. You added 10 pounds of active, healthy muscle from September to November—good job—but since the beginning of November you still see 190 pounds on your scale, or you’ve possibly even lost weight? This is because you’re still eating 2,600 calories a day. You’re eating enough to maintain that body weight but not enough to grow any more. If you weigh 200 pounds today—hypothetical situation—and you want to work out, multiply 200 by 15, which equals 3,000 (math genius over here). That number is how many calories you should aim to eat today—you’ll always get enough energy to build muscle. Next week if you’re 202 pounds, your caloric intake will be 3,030.
To maintain a healthy diet, make protein 40 percent of your daily caloric intake, carbohydrates 40 percent, and fats 20 percent. Both protein and carbs are four calories per gram, while fat is nine calories per gram. Someone who is 200 pounds should eat 300 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbs, and 67 grams of fats. Obviously, mom’s cooking is the best and completely irresistible, but try this and watch your workouts explode.
Same routine every day
If you’re doing the same thing every day, there isn’t anything shocking your system anymore. There’s no more of the intensity that you once had. Aim to do things that make you think, “Damn, that looks hard; I wonder if I can do that?” not, “I know I can do that, so that’s just what I’ll do.” Increase the intensity and explosiveness of the exercise.
Another trick is to change the repetition count every day. For example, on Monday, do 12 reps per set, Wednesday 6 reps, then on Friday, do your exercise until failure—that’s a shock to the system. Also, change rest time between sets; on Monday, wait 30 seconds between sets, but on Wednesday, hold for a minute. Lastly, change the repetition tempo. For example, play with a pull-up repetition count, do 4, 3, 2, 1 on Monday, then 5, 2, 2, 2 on Wednesday.
Since your body recovers when you sleep, your body needs sleep (again, genius). If you aren’t getting seven to nine hours a night, you’re neither physically nor mentally resting, contributing to overtraining and injuries. If you’re having trouble getting into a better sleeping pattern, try melatonin or valarian root a little while before your desired sleep time.