Have You Hit A Plateau? | Work It Training

By Adam Mata, Certified Personal Trainer with Work It

Is your goal to gain lean muscle mass (muscle hypertrophy) and you are working out more frequently with more intensity than ever before; yet you are stuck at a plateau or have possibly even lost strength or weight?

The problem could be that your workouts are too intense and frequent. Recently a study was performed on two groups of rats to see what the effects of intense training and recovery time would be on muscle hypertrophy or atrophy (muscle growth or loss respectively). The only variable difference between the two groups was the recovery time between training sessions. The data collected in the study showed that the group with “high-intensity resistance training with insufficient recovery time between bouts promoted muscle atrophy.”1

This is all dependent on the intensity of your workouts. The more intense your workout the greater your recovery time will need to be for your muscles to repair and rebuild. It is easy to think that the process of gaining muscle mass occurs while you are performing resistance training; however, the workout is actually the first phase of the hypertrophy process. The first phase is stressing the muscle enough to break it down to the cellular level. In order to begin gaining muscle there must be adequate recovery time to allow the muscle fibers to rebuild. It is during the second phase, the resting period between workouts, which allow the muscle fibers to repair. Some studies have produced data stating that depending on the intensity of the workout the muscle fibers can potentially require 24-72 hours to complete the rebuilding process.

What should you do? Make sure you are allowing yourself the required rest time to rebuild your muscle fibers so you can continue to meet your goals. Don’t try to rush the process by training hard everyday with little to no off days. This would be considered over-training. Remember, generally the harder you train the more time it may take for you to recover.


1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21714108

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