Tom has now been training for just over 4 years. He follows a Hypertrophy dominant exercise plan. For the first 3 years, Tom saw amazing changes in his body. He grew his lean muscles at an appreciable rate.
The last year has been different though.
Tom’s progression has come to a stand-still and he isn’t able to make much progress. His confidence level has taken a beating as well.
Today, he has made up his mind to take advice from an expert.
Here’s what the expert suggests.
It is an irrefutable fact that in order to gain lean muscle mass and lose fat, you should endeavor to get stronger with time and keep providing your muscles with a stimulus for growth.
Hypertrophy and Strength Training thus, go hand in hand. You cannot expect your muscles to grow if you keep working out in the same rep range using the same weights for weeks and months. Such a routine will eventually make your body hit a plateau – a stage at which your muscles become unresponsive to any exercise. Thus, arises a need of ‘Progressive Overload’.
Progressive Overload means that you need to constantly build up your strength, irrespective of the fact that your primary goal isn’t to gain strength.Your muscles are stubborn, and they don’t want to build themselves. They hate all the strain that they face when you exercise. At the very same time your body is wilier than your think – it will adapt to whatever you put it through.
When you start exercising, you witness many changes, which primarily happens because your muscles haven’t yet adapted to this new level of physical exertion. But as soon as your body adapts, it enters a state of steadiness – ceasing to respond to your work-outs.
So, the catch here is not to allow your body to adapt to your training schedule.
But at the same time, we have to be careful not to change our exercise pattern too quickly. Research shows that it takes 3-5 weeks for your muscles to get properly activated. You have to find your sweet spot. Yes, it’ll demand a lot a patience and perseverance, but results are assured!
Here are some ways your can optimize your training for best results:
- Emphasize compound movements: Focus on compound movements (like Squats, Dead-lifts, Overhead Press, Push ups etc). These movements involve stimulation of multiple muscle groups at the same time allowing you to gain strength quicker and work more in a shorter time frame.
- Introduce minor variations: Bring about minor changes your exercise pattern every 5 to 6 weeks – change your training split and/or substitute some exercises.
- Strength training is a must: Whatever be your goal–fat-Loss, body-building or endurance Training etc, incorporate strength training in your work-out schedule.
- De-load surprise: Surprise your body by planning out a ‘de-load’ week every 2 months. In the de-load week, you’ll significantly decrease the weights (and may be increase the reps) in every exercise you perform, thus ensuring that your muscles do not hit a plateau.
If you aim to keep getting stronger with time, you will keep progressing in your fitness journey. Also make a note that every body has different anatomy and response rate. So, there is no point blindly follow training plan of others. You will have to do a hit and trial for yourself and see what works the best for you.
Also, remember that no matter how hard to train, it won’t be effective if you don’t control what you put on your plate.
– Neelabh Rai
(I hope you found this bit to be informative. I’d really appreciate your comments and suggestions below. Please do share this with others who you think will benefit from these tips. For queries, DM me on Instagram)