So you've been working out regularly for a few months. Lost a few pounds. Maybe gained some muscle. Your body just started taking that aesthetic shape. It was all going so well, but recently you noticed the rate of progress slowing down. You're doing everything right - eating less than usual, doing cardio, lifting weights. What's slowing you down?
The Human body is great at surviving, this survival instinct makes our bodies adapt to any external stimulus. Your workouts and changes to diet are also something your body can adapt to and get accustomed to.
Studies call this concept "The Plateau". The plateau is a point where your body stops reacting to your current workouts and diet. This could be the reason why your progress has slowed down.
Honestly, is that the case?
Plateaus are generally excuses for issues with concentration, tracking, and discipline. Before you think you have plateaued try the following and see the change in yourself:
1. Track your Macros and Workouts
Tracking can sound overwhelming but trust me, done correctly, it's quite easy. Eating "clean" isn't enough. You have to keep a record of what and how much you're putting into your body. Understand a simple concept of calories in vs. calories out. This needs to be the basis of any diet you'll ever follow from today. All these fancy diets are good, but without this base, you'll never make progress.
Imagine a bucket with a tiny hole at the bottom, open a tap and let the bucket fill to the brim. That bucket is your body, the hole is your workout and the tap is your food intake. Anytime your bucket is overflowing, you need to control it with either turning the tap down or making the hole bigger.
Similarly, to lose bodyweight you need to either drop your food intake or increase workout intensity. You will only be able to make these adjustments once you track how many calories you're eating, how many are you burning and macros (weekly average). Once you've got a hang of this, you'll have an idea of how much to eat without the number games. This is called intuitive eating.
Remember, we're trying to build a lifestyle here, this can only be done when your actions can easily be incorporated in your daily life.
2. Posture > Weight
A major mistake that I've seen people make at the gym is that they look at the weight others are lifting and try to do the same; with pathetic form.
Another major reason why you're not making progress is that you're not doing it right. This means that your noob stage is over (Yay! Good for you). To make progress now, you need to hit the right muscle fibers for your body to respond the way you want it to. Don't go beyond a weight that 80% of your one-rep max.
While lifting weights build a Mind-Muscle Connection, squeeze and hold at the top, control the weight rather than just moving it. Think about the muscle your working on, imagine the micro-tears you inflict with each rep, feel the blood pumping to that muscle. This will help you maintain a good form, enable maximum activation of the muscle fibers and also avoid injury.
3. Learn from your mistakes
2019 Mr. Olympia winner Brandon Curry, famous Bollywood and Hollywood actors like Hritik Roshan, Tiger Shroff, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, all have a trainer. There's no reason why you shouldn't need one. If you don't have a trainer, don't be afraid to ask a fellow gym member or the free floor trainers for help and advice. This will also help avoid injuries that could hamper future workouts.
Everyone makes mistakes, but when we learn and fix those mistakes, we only come out stronger. So go out there, open up, ask for help, ask for support, it's only going to make things easier for you.
4. Recovery, Rest and Immunity
I literally cannot stress this point enough. Let me start by explaining how muscle building works.
When you lift weights, grind out the reps, your muscles develop micro-tears. Technically this is self-inflicted damage to your muscles. This happens at the gym. THIS IS NOT WHAT MAKES YOU GROW.
The right nutrition (healthy ratio of Protein, Carbs, and Fats) will help your body rebuild these micro-tears, THIS IS WHAT MAKES YOU GROW.
Make sure you pump your body with good, healthy food to overcome this damage. Sleep for 7-9 hours a day so that your body can utilize this nutrition is the recovery process.
To gain a one-up, work on your immunity. The stronger your immunity, the less downtime your body will need. (more on this in a later blog)
5. Use Supplements like Supplements
Don't be afraid to use supplements, but like the name suggests supplements are meant to compliment your natural diet, not to replace it. If you're skipping meals, binge eating on the weekends, stress eating, eating at irregular times, you're body will never be able to set a rhythm. You can chug all the protein shakes you want, but buddy it won't do shit for you.
Hogg on a pizza every week and keep popping those fat burner pills, put your body through the elevated body temperature, sweat, anxiety, and palpitations, nothing will happen, you'll still be a fat fuck!
Keep shit simple! Track your macros, supplement with nutrients that your diet lacks.
6. Consistency, Consistency and Consistency
You see that dude with the muscles of a Greek god, or that babe with the body of a supermodel? How do you think they got it? Years of tracking, hard work, proper workout regimes, apt recovery time and optimal nutrition.
It takes time, discipline, and consistency to achieve such long term goals. There will be days when you don't feel like hitting the gym, or days where you slack on your diet. Remember the concept of No Inert Days we mentioned in our blog "How to be More Productive?" Keep that in mind, make sure you have at least some sort of activity on your day.
Embrace your journey. Stay disciplined, stay motivated, stay focused. To have a strong body, you need to have a strong dedicated mindset, and for a dedicated mindset, you need an active brain. Try Kenshō ELEVATE - a botanical nootropic blend. Used before a workout will help you concentrate, focus, stay motivated and build a strong Mind-Muscle connection. Used after a morning workout, can help you cope with the crash you feel because of the energy expenditure and give your brain the nutrition for enhanced cognition and optimal mental performance for the rest of the day.