The ‘’plateau’’ is used far too often in the context of muscle growth. It is common for people to believe they have hit a ‘’plateau’’ but this can often be mistaken for the simple road of progression. Whilst it is very common to see people hit a wall we wanted to outline the fact that sometimes you haven’t, instead you just have to keep moving forward to get to your next milestone.
When is it a case of impatience and when is it a plateau?
Whilst there is no ‘’right/wrong’’ definitive answer here there are certainly some tips we can offer to help bring you closer to the right conclusion. Plateaus are often long drawn out affairs whereby you keep training hard, you keep getting your meals and supplements down and yet the progress is nominal. After a 6-10 week period if there is zero progress in strength or size then it might be fair to say there is an underlying issue which needs addressing. In this instance the standard procedure is usually to increase calories and possibly change the training split. The thing with training and plateaus is that you have to allow your body to progress, asking it to do things it physically cannot do in a short space of time is pointless.
So when is there an argument for impatience and not a plateau?
Weight gain is often hailed as ‘’be all end all’’ for muscle growth and if your weight isn’t growing on the scale by much you could be forgiven for thinking that you are failing to progress. The argument here is that quality should always come before quantity. What we are saying here is that even though over a 2-4 week period the scales might not go up much you could still be making quality gains. What many people fail to factor in is that as you gain muscle (especially beginners) you do also sometimes lose weight via body fat because your basal metabolic rate increases due to the newly developed muscle mass. The truth is it is hard to label something as a ‘’plateau’’ because there are so many variables to consider before you can conclusively decide the current plan of action isn’t working. The best mind-set to have in relation to this is small progressive steps. On a monthly basis you should be able to notice small increases in size or strength.
Of course there will be times when this doesn’t happen, but if you are tracking everything and over the course of the year you have progressed at this rate then you have done well!