Do you ever feel stagnant or stuck at a plateau? I have many times, and decided to do something about. I have put together some simple steps to help persevere past your plateau and continue to excel. Being healthy, working out and looking good is a great way to live your life but like most of us, you want to keep growing physically. There is never a total completion. It’s an ongoing fight to be in the top shape of your life. I did a study on myself and a few other clients and found that if we follow a few steps, we can blow past that plateau and keep gaining solid muscle. We not only gained muscle, but also strength and stamina. Over a period of 90 days, I changed a few things and saw a drastic improvement in the way I look and the way I feel.
Shock your muscles. Switch up your current workout routine. Shock your muscles and keep your body guessing. Yes, we have been hearing this for many years but do we actually commit? This is why I am bringing it up— I have been changing gyms every few months. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorite gym, but I have found in switching it up forces me into changing up my routine and the equipment that I use will vary. If you are locked into a contract or just can’t pull away, then try changing up the workouts you are doing to target muscle groups that you might not be engaging. Keep in mind that there are over 650 skeletal muscles in the human body, so believe me that switching it up a little will target ones that you have not been hitting regularly. Changing up your routine will help build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries, help keep your brain healthy and get you excited about exercise again.
Change your diet. Sticking to a certain diet is a good thing to practice, but change it up. I am not saying to start eating cake and ice cream on a regular basis, but I am saying if you’re a macro counter to change your count up. I carb-cycle and have increased my protein intake in the past few months, and have been putting on solid muscle weight ever since. There are quite a few types of popular diets that work— one being the keto diet that everyone has been doing. In a nutshell, it’s a low-carb, high-fat diet. I go on this diet for about five weeks every couple of months just to throw my body off a bit. For my body to improve, I am constantly changing things up all around.
Increase insulin for muscle growth. Start spiking your insulin levels after your workout— it will help stimulate the transport of glucose and amino acids into muscle, and promote glycogen storage and protein synthesis. Biolo and colleagues at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Galveston showed that the infusion of insulin into healthy volunteers increased the rate of transport of key amino acids into the muscle from 20 percent to 50 percent, and this increase was associated with enhanced protein synthesis. In another study, investigators from Penn State University Medical School showed that insulin stimulated the cellular machinery (ribosomes) involved in the manufacture of protein.
One of the best ways I have found to increase insulin is to drink a sugar protein drink loaded with amino acids within 30 minutes of completion of a solid workout. If you make glucose and amino acids available at this time, insulin will help synthesize muscle protein and muscle glycogen at a very rapid rate, and a very little fat will be synthesized and stored in adipose (fat) tissue. Contrary to popular belief, insulin is the most powerful anabolic hormone— the most important hormone of all in relation to muscle growth.
Get enough sleep. I cannot stress enough how important proper sleep is for muscle growth. The best training routine, diet and supplement program will not compensate for insufficient rest, and sleep is the best, and only way of getting this rest. SLEEP!
During sleep, growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis (provided that protein is consumed prior to sleep) occurs. These are only two beneficial aspects of sleep. Reduction of energy consumption and brain cell restoration are two other aspects equally important for bodybuilding. For most people, sleeping more than eight hours can be hard due to the long and stressful days we put in. Make it a goal to get to bed in time to get the sleep your body needs and deserves.
Sleeping for eight to 10 hours per night is similar to fasting, and this is catabolic to muscle growth. However, eating just prior to sleeping can help to reverse this process and increase protein synthesis. Protein synthesis does occur under conditions of sleep but it occurs in the gastrointestinal tract, not the muscles. Muscle is actually broken down under these conditions to provide our stomach with amino acids during this time of starvation. Eating before bed is crucial in offsetting this. Some reports suggest waking up in the middle of the night to eat (nocturnal eating).
Persevere past your plateau. Healthy nutrition and change are important parts of persevering past your plateau. Leading a healthy lifestyle combined with physical activity can help you to reach and maintain goals you have set. Nothing is more aggravating than putting in the work and wondering why you’re not growing or changing. Seeing improvement is what helps keep people motivated and determined to get up and give life their all. Next time you see yourself not changing, make it a personal goal to persevere past your plateau.