BEAT YOUR PHYSIQUE BUILDING ENEMIES

HOW TO PREVENT TRAINING PLATEAU AND IMPROVE MUSCLE DEVELOPMENT


ARTICLE ESSENTIALS

  • Training plateau is a common but beatable physique threat
  • Identify why you're not making progress and put it right!
  • Train and eat smart to always win the physique training war
  • Use advanced workout strategies to boss your way to new growth while getting ripped
  • Take the right supplements to over-load your muscles more intensely

Hitting a physique building plateau is something that every trainer encounters from time to time. So whether you've been training for six months or six years – you need to be ready to fight back when your body refuses to respond. Fortunately, there are usually several well known enemies behind a training plateau – you just need to identify yours and eliminate them immediately to re-invigorate your progress...

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.1: PROTEIN INTAKE FAIL

If you're hitting the gym hard to build muscle and get ripped – you'll know about the need for optimal protein intake. But are you 100% sure you're nailing it consistently? Before you make changes to your training, this is the Number 1 area to get 'spot on' in order to start responding to workouts with muscle gains, strength and definition. The first thing to do is to multiply your body weight in kg by two, to find a solid daily protein intake (Some guys prefer slightly higher than this, but if you consistently hit this intake you're going to get quality returns from your training).However, it's no good guessing your daily protein intake – you need to KNOW you're hitting your target – so keep a nutrition log to guarantee you don't fall short! The impact of insufficient protein can sneak-up on you over the course of a few weeks – if you're not careful, you can easily miss out on that crucial extra 50g of protein a day – suddenly your recovery, strength and growth grind to a halt and you're left wondering why!

PROTEIN TIP > Stock-up on instant protein sources so you can always get an easy 30-40g protein when you've fallen short.

Opt for:

  • Boiled eggs
  • Protein powder (SCI-MX ADVANCED PROTEIN RANGE)
  • Protein bars (SCI-MX PRO 2GO® DUO BARS/FLAPJACKS)
  • RTD shakes (SCI-MX PRO 2GO® PROTEIN/THICK SHAKES)
  • Tins of tuna
  • Tubs of cottage cheese

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.2: POOR WORKOUT RECOVERY

When you tear-down your muscles with a precision training session – it's easy to think 'job done'. However, falling for this trap is a sure-fire way to limit recovery and growth. It's critical to optimise the anabolic response to training – and that means your pre, intra and post workout nutrition needs to be optimised every time you hit the gym. You may get away with poor nutrition for a short period of time, but it always catches up with you and kills long-term progress.

Check out the strategy below from SCI-MX ambassador, Stefan Gatt:

3 HOURS PRE-TRAINING: Chicken breast or protein bar + handful cashew nuts

30 MINUTES PRE-TRAINING: 1 scoop ULTRA WHEY™ PROTEIN + X-PLODE HARDCORE™ or X-PLODE RIPPEDCORE™

INTRA-WORKOUT: BCAA INTRA HARDCORE™ or AMINO INTRA RIPPEDCORE™

10 MINUTES POST-TRAINING: OMNI MX® HARDCORE (or your goal-specific protein shake, if you’re looking to get ripped go for WHEY PLUS RIPPEDCORE™ or OMNI MX® RIPEDCORE)

90 MINUTES POST-WORKOUT MEAL: Lean meat/fish with starchy carbs (e.g. fillet steak, baked potato, grilled peppers)

Depending on when you train, your next meal could be lunch, dinner or another snack, but Stefan recommends making a pre-bed slow releasing protein meal non-negotiable! Try his favourite pre-bed ritual – cottage cheese blended with GRS 9-HOUR® PROTEIN on 2-3 rice cakes – 100% epic he assures us!

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.3: LACK OF INTENSITY

What if you're hitting your protein and calorie target, getting your workout nutrition right, but still making zero progress? Then you've probably hit a genuine training plateau and need to utilise workout strategies that force your body to adapt and respond with strength and muscle gains. Firstly, if you're not already doing so, take a high strength pre-workout supplement (X-PLODE HARDCORE™ or X-PLODE RIPPEDCORE™) 30 minutes before the gym to promote increased training drive and reduce perceived training effort with optimal levels of pure caffeine.

Also consider stacking it with creatine – either with a standalone creatine supplement such asCREAPLEX HARDCORE™ or via any OMNI MX® shake. Creatine is proven to boost repetitive sets of high intensity work, and key for plateau-prevention. This supplement strategy is ideal to support the advanced training techniques which are renowned for stimulating gains when your body gets stubborn – such as density training, super sets and giant sets. Focus on adding one of the methods below to your workout plan when you hit your next plateau:

1. DENSITY TRAINING

Density training is a superb way to remind yourself what an intense workout should really be like – and it's also guaranteed to shock muscles into growth and burn stubborn body fat. The idea is simple... Select two compound exercises, set a timer to 20-30 minutes and blast out as many reps as you can, while switching between the two moves with as little rest as possible. Your goal is to beat your rep count/total weight lifted during your next strictly-timed workout.

DAY PLAN:

DAY 1 (30 min complex, using a weight that you can normally lift for 12 strict reps)
A: SQUAT
B: BENCH PRESS

Follow with density finisher > 1 mile run as fast as possible

DAY 2
A: STIFF LEG DEADLIFT
B: SHOULDER PRESS

Follow with density finisher > 15 minute row as fast as possible

DAY 3
A: TRAP-BAR DEADLIFT
B: CHIN-UPS

Follow with density finisher > 10 minute max number crunches

2. SUPER SETS

Super sets are a simple training intensifying technique that you can use to stimulate stubborn body parts – whether it's skinny legs or unresponsive guns. Simply select two non-competing muscle groups and work them in a non-stop circuit for 3-4 sets... Try performing super sets at the end of your usual workout for a muscle-shocking finisher.

GUN BLASTING SUPER SET:

A: BICEPS SEATED CABLE PREACHER CURL x 8-12 REPS
B: TRICEPS PRESS-DOWN x 8-12 REPS

SKINNY LEGS SUPER SET:

A: LEG PRESS x 8-12 REPS
B: ROMANIAN DEADLIFT x 8-12 REPS

3. GIANT SETS

Giant sets are an even more intense muscle-shock and are famous for their power to simultaneously trigger a stubborn physique into burning fat whilst building muscle. If you just can't get ripped.... they're well worth trying for the next 4-6 weeks.....

GIANT CHEST SET:

1. Select a load for each exercise that you can perform 12 reps with when fresh
2. Perform the exercises in a non-stop circuit
3. Rest for 2 minutes in between circuits
4. Repeat 4 times – job done!

A: BENCH PRESS
B: DIPS
C: INCLINE DUMBBELL PRESS
D: PRESS-UPS TO FAILURE

Create a similar workout to hit your whole body over the course of 3 weekly giant set workouts.

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.4: OVER-TRAINING

Funnily enough, whilst focusing on how to boost your workout intensity, you also need to consider whether you’re over-doing things by training with a 'more is better' mentality. So while upping your intensity is usually a sure-fire way of blasting through plateaus – over-training can also be the enemy...

Potential signs of over-training to watch out for:

1. Do your workouts last over 60 minutes?
2. Do you train intensely for more than 4-5 times a week?
3. Have you started losing strength?
4. Is your recovery slow despite a quality diet and supplement stack?
5. Do you lack the motivation and focus to train?

If you answered yes to any of the risk-factors above and you've hit a plateau with your physique – there's a good chance you're over-training and need to back-off in order to progress.

The solution is a de-load week, where you stick to your nutrition and supplement plan, but provide your nervous system, muscles and hormonal machinery with a full seven days of recuperation. When you get back in the gym, start a new training phase using a load around 70% of your PB's. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the active-rest given to your body is an awesome strategy that will lead to greater gains in muscle and strength during the weeks that follow; crank-up the weights by 10% each week and after 3-4 weeks you'll be on your way to smashing your old PB's!

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.5: NO PROGRESSIVE OVER-LOAD

You know you need to make progress to build a better body – but are you 100% focused on doing what it takes to elicit progressive overload?

The golden rule is to ALWAYS keep a training diary recording your reps, sets and rest periods – it's the only way to effectively track progress and be sure to push yourself into over-load territory. Crucially, seemingly 'insignificant' improvements in your reps and weights add up to serious longer-term physique improvements (that extra 1kg per month on your bench press is a whopping 12kg in a year – enough to give you significantly more impressive pecs!).

When you start 'guestimating' the weights to use with a 'that'll do' attitude – you miss out on making the crucial small gains from workout to workout. You'll quit on that last squat rep because it's painful – rather than grinding though it because you need to beat last week's set!

PHYSIQUE ENEMY NO.6: LACK OF TRAINING VARIATION

Even a well structured training plan is likely to lead to a decline in progress when you attack it with hardcore focus for longer than six weeks – so don't be afraid of training in waves of intensity and switching-up the way you lift every now and again. Stay fresh and keep your physique guessing by training in different rep ranges, using phases of 4-6 weeks (try 4-6 weeks on 5-8 reps, followed by 8-10 and then 10-12 rep cycles). Using this strategy along with the periodic use of intensifiers such as density workouts, super sets and giant sets will help to keep you gaining without encountering a stall in your progress.

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