There are times when, despite your efforts of eating right and training heavy, your strength and muscle growth simply stagnate.
Your muscles just refuse to grow. Here are some tricks you could use to get your strength back on track and spur your muscles into new growth.
1. Deload – Usually, when progress stops, this means it’s time for a break. Many people start pounding the weights even harder, eventually ending up overtrained.
A deload is a serie of sessions where you should lower the intensity and/or volume of your workouts in order to give your body some time to recover. This is a good time to work on your technique, flexibility, weaknesses etc.
The deload period can last from one week to two or three weeks, depending on your state of overtraining. You should come back stronger more focused, and ready for new muscle growth after the deload period.
Eat well during this period. Don’t lower the protein content and try to eat around 1-1.2 grams of protein per 1 lb of bodyweight and about 2-2.5 grams of complex carbs per 1 lb of bodyweight. Use some of the best supplements for muscle growth like Creatine, BCAA and Glutamine
2. Increase the volume of work for the lagging muscle. This does not mean that you should pound the lagging muscle with heavy weights workout after workout. Instead, add some light exercises after your short and intense workout.
If your shoulders are a lagging bodypart, for an example, try to add 30-50 light reps of dumbbell presses after every workout in the course of 7-10 days and then return to your normal routine.
You can also try some bodyweight exercises like push-ups for chest, pull-ups for back, bodyweight squats or stair climbing for legs.
3. Negative repetitions. Mike Mentzer believed in using techniques like negative repetitions for increasing the intensity of a workout. According to Mentzer, the skeletal muscle posses three types of strength: positive – the strength you use to lift the weight, static – the strength you use to hold the weight, and negative – our ability to lower a weight.
We are weaker in positive and stronger in negative strength phase. Also, we can’t say we have trained to failure until we have lost the ability to lower the weight.
You can do negative repetitions for most of the exercises (except for squats and deadlifts for safety reasons). Just do the negative part of the exercise as slow as you can (or resist the weight as it goes down)
4. Overeating. Yes, you heard that right. I’m not telling you to eat like this every day, but eating junk food or large quantities or carbohydrates can actually be a good thing if they are eaten only once in a while and after a heavy workout.
Eating like this is especially useful if you are dieting, because it creates a suitable anabolic environment for muscle gain and increases the levels of Leptin – a hormone that is closely related to fat loss.