3 Tips to Getting Through Plateaus in the Gym

Will Davis

Personal Trainer, Strength Training

No one joins the gym to make zero progress. It’s unlikely that anyone signed up with the intention of busting their gut every single week but having very little to show for it.

 

People join gyms to get results. They probably want to:

 

 

  1. Improve athletic performance for their chosen sport, which may result in more competitive victories.
  2. Incinerate body fat so they no longer feel embarrassed about their physique.
  3. Build strength and muscle so they comfortably fill out their clothes and look confident, strong, and like someone who’s not to be messed with.

 

It’s an amazing feeling to be making progress on a consistent basis and feel like you’re going to hit your goals sooner rather than later.

 

But if you’ve made a start on your journey and have hit a frustrating plateau that’s preventing you from making any further progress, it can be depressing to feel like you’re never going to get to where you want to be.

 

Remember, there is no need to be extreme.

 

Unless you’re an elite-level athlete, stalled progress is often a lot easier to overcome than most people realize. But unfortunately, many people are drawn to making the most extreme changes possible. ??

 

Tough times can often feel like it’s time to implement tough measures, like making very extreme changes to your training or nutrition, but the fact is that, the more extreme the approach, the less sustainable it is.

 

Yes, it will almost certainly get the ball rolling, but not for very long. It is a matter of time before you give up and return to old ways. This will serve to undo your quickly-gained results and put you back to square one.

 

Instead, I want to present to you three things that you should address immediately in the event of stalled progress, none of which would be considered extreme or unsustainable.

 

Training Progress Tip 1: Deload Your Training

You make progress in training as a result of stimulating adaptions within the body. These adaptations can only be stimulated if you stress the body more than you’ve done previously (i.e. train harder—the principle of overload).

 

 

You can only train harder if you’ve recovered properly from your previous training session.

 

If you are running yourself into the ground in each and every training session, and not making progress, then the solution is simply to back off a little and have a de-load week.

 

If you’re unable to make progress in training, but continue to beast yourself as hard as possible, then you won’t have stressed the body enough to stimulate any new adaptations, but will have increased fatigued further.

 

Without sufficient recovery between sessions, you’re not allowing new adaptations to take place and will struggle to make any further progress from training.

 

It may feel counterintuitive to take things easier in the gym, instead of training as hard as possible, but in this instance, it’s exactly what you need.

 

  • Takeaway: For every three weeks of hard training, have 1 week with a 40% reduction in training volume.

 

Training Progress Tip 2: Perform a Full Nutrition Audit

It’s very common to think you’re eating optimally in order to reach your goal, but in reality, you may be miles away. Perform a full nutrition audit by logging everything you eat and drink for a week and comparing your actual calorie and macronutrient (carbs, protein, and fat) to what you actually need to reach your goal.

 

For example, if you want to build muscle, you will need to make sure you’re eating in a calorie surplus and a minimum of 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight.

 

Failing to achieve this will prevent you from building muscle, no matter how hard you train. Likewise, if you want to incinerate body fat, then you must be in a calorie deficit while eating a sufficient quantity of nutrients to ensure that you feel energized.

 

  • Takeaway: Use a food tracker that works out calories and macronutrient quantities for one week in order to determine how much you’re actually eating every day.

 

Training Progress Tip 3: Prioritize Sleep

Training is a stress that can elicit a lot of damage to the body.

 

Although rest and nutrients are an important part of the recovery process, making sure you get enough quality sleep should never be overlooked. One possible reason sleep can help with recovery is because of the growth hormones released during deep sleep that support recovery and repair.

 

If you fail to get enough quality sleep, then you may limit the amount of growth hormone released. This may result in impaired recovery.

 

Improving sleep quality can go a long way to improving recovery from hard training. Ensure that you’re able to consistently push hard in the gym and stimulate results.

 

  • Takeaway: Aim to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.

 

Take An Honest Look At Your Training and Nutrition

If you’re failing to make the progress you want in the gym, then the first thing to do is address these three key areas of training, nutrition, and recovery.

 

For most people, after evaluating these three elements, they are able to identify where improvements can be made in order to meet their goals and feel confident in the process.

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