For all of us training to get stronger and build muscle, making gains is easiest at the beginning of our weight training career. Your progress will never be better than it is when you commence training. For me that was over forty years ago. I remember that my bench press increased by 10 lbs a week for months before it plateaued. I only trained the showy muscles in those days so presses were virtually the only compound moves I performed consistently. My triceps and front deltoids got bigger very quickly.
The Law Of Diminishing Returns
Making gains in both strength and size gets harder the closer we come to our ultimate physical potential. The rapid increase in size and strength, when we commence a weight training program usually continues for months unabated. Slowly however, imperceptibly at first, the gains start to decline until you start to plateau. For some, this initial period of time making gains is longer than for others, but for all trainees, the closer we come to our predetermined genetic limit, the harder it becomes to make improvements in both size and strength.
After years of training, improvements become hard to obtain, and may cease altogether. You will no doubt encounter a number of plateaus before this point is reached.
Some individuals however, fail to make any significant gains after the initial honeymoon period. Whilst some persevere, others decide to give up, depending on their individual levels of motivation, and more importantly discipline. Many mistakenly believe that they are doing something wrong. They will often change their training program. Plateaus however, are natural roadblocks on your training journey, and should be expected. Progress in both size and strength is never linear, except at the very beginning.
Some trainees however actually cease making gains after a certain period of time, because they simply do not train hard enough. The levels of intensity generated by their workouts is insufficient to elicit muscle growth. These individuals may blame external factors, or their program for their lack of progress, when the real answer is staring them in the face.
As a result primarily of media misinformation usually via the muscle mags or supplement manufacturers, many trainees have ridiculously unrealistic expectations of the benefits obtainable from training and supplements. Their lack of progress is often rooted in a flawed belief system and/or lack of understanding of fundamental training principles.
The advertising of high-tech training routines, machines, so called “secrets,” and other dubious training methods have led many trainees to believe that they must have the most modern training protocol, in order to be making gains. This is a complete nonsense, as are the magic training routines advertised to suposedly transform your physique, if you follow them.
The system you employ is essentially unimportant, so long as it follows basic training principles. Even less than optimal training routines, will work well, if you train hard enough on basic compound movements.
The Supplement Myth
The other issue which really gets up my nose, is the belief of many trainees that “this or that” supplement will promote accelerated muscular gains. Of course it’s not the trainees’ fault as the products are marketed to target those individual’s pressing needs. The problem however is that its all BS. Sound nutrient intake is important of course, but supplements should not be the mainstay of the diet, they are primarily insurance against insufficient protein intake, not a necessity.
Training hard and consistently however, is a necessity if you wish to continue making gains.
If you look on any Facebook bodybuilding group or forum however, a newbie somewhere will be asking “which supplement is best for getting huge” or “does this or that supplement work” ? These questions are irrelevant, and miss the point. There are no nutritional supplements which will significantly accelerate muscular growth, only drugs will do this.
The Importance Of Consistency
As far as actual training goes, the primary factors in making gains are intensity and consistency. You need to train hard, and consistently. If you haven’t been making gains for a significant amount of time, ask yourself honestly have you been doing this.
Consistency is entirely dependent on discipline, which in turn is dependent on the appropriate mind-set. This is not the same as motivation. Motivation is the desire to train. It is difficult to sustain motivation when working outside of the comfort zone.
Discipline however, means going to the gym whether or not you feel like it. Discipline means training regardless of how you feel, unless you are ill. Discipline means making time for training even when it’s inconvenient.
Missing training is easy, we don’t always feel like doing it. Weight training, if done correctly is hard work, and its easy to become lazy in order to avoid it. We fool ourselves that missing one session wont hurt, but before you know it our progress has been curtailed, we have lost motivation and become despondent.
In order to prevent this it helps to “visualise” your physique goals and cultivate what I call a “do or die “ mind-set.
You must train consistently even if you don’t feel motivated to do so. A bad workout is better than no workout.
Understand that consistency is everything, and without it you are doomed to failure in your endeavours. Progress will inevitably be slow, but the cumulative effect of consistent training over a period of years will be significant.
So there you have it, if you wish to continue making gains – train hard and consistently on basic compound movements and don’t skip workouts.
Aside from training, ensure you ingest a balanced diet with sufficient calories and get adequate recuperation between workouts.
Easy isn’t it? Admitedly It’s a long haul but it can be done.