Gunnar Anderson is one of my first athletes in North Carolina. He is one of the few that actually fell in love with working out, and then decided to take it to a new level. Gunnar is one of the most courageous people that I know because he is choosing to compete in Physique Competition even though he was born without his right pec major. Talk about Black Sheep! Enjoy!
Breaking the Plateau
By Gunnar Anderson
The plateau is something we all dread, but is unavoidable. Whether you’ve been lifting for years or started yesterday, you will experience it if you haven’t already. I have been training in the gym with various goals for about six years now, and I have experienced my fair share. These are a few tips to help you break the plateau and move forward with your training. They’ve worked well for me and I hope that you can find them useful as well.
Firstly, a plateau is when your body hits a wall. Your training is going well and then all of a sudden your body says, “I know your tricks. I know your training. I don’t have to do anything but go through the motions.” It essentially means that your body is used to your current plan, and without any new shocks, it doesn’t need to grow. It can happen with anything. Your muscle gains can plateau, your strength gains can plateau, and your fat loss can plateau. Whatever it may be, it is incredibly frustrating. The only way to break a plateau is change. Some of us, me included, don’t like changing our routines. Since a plateau is your body in its comfort zone, you have to force it out. There are tons of ways to do it, and I’ve tried quite a few with great success.
1) Changing your training:
Changing your training principles can be terrifying, especially if you’ve been seeing results on a specific program in the past. Say, for example, you’ve been training at a low volume with heavy weights for the past month. If I am training low volume, I really enjoy 5×5 workouts. It allows you to go heavy with only five reps, but after the fifth set you are burnt out. Eventually, your body will learn the trick and the shock of heavy weight will wear off. You will be able to lift the weight you’ve been using, but you won’t be able to go up. In turn, your muscles won’t respond the same as they did in the beginning and will not grow. Take a couple weeks and drop your weight and increase the volume. Instead of five sets of five, try 4 sets of twelve to fifteen. You will be sore as can be, but your muscles will react and be forced to grow. When muscles misbehave and refuse to cooperate, they must be punished. Throw them out of their comfort zone and pump out high reps until they twitch and cramp. Then they will behave; then they will grow. I switched from a 5×5 based routine to a 10×10 based routine (German Volume Training) and saw significant growth. It doesn’t matter so much what you change, more so that you just change something.
2) Change your diet:
When I want to cut, the first thing to go is sugar. If you are in a bulking phase and you hit a point where your body will not take on any more weight, put yourself through a four week cycle of cutting. Take the sugar out of your diet and refine your meals to a more disciplined plan. Another great thing you can do is switch your carbs. If you are eating sweet potatoes and brown rice, switch to white potatoes and white rice. These carbs have a much higher glycemic index and will shock your body with insulin a lot faster. These carbs can be particularly effective immediately after a workout during your anabolic window. Of course the reverse of that is adding to your diet. If you’re trying to bulk up and you think you’re eating enough, push through and add another protein shake here and there. When I was at my heaviest (and I didn’t look that great) I added a mass gainer called Serious Mass by Optimum Nutrition to my diet. I would wake up and drink the shake, which was 1,200 calories alone, then wait a while and eat a full breakfast, four egg whites, four whole eggs, two cups oatmeal and a small glass of milk. After this I would roll myself to class, but not long after I would be hungry again. The first couple weeks are brutal when you’re changing your diet because you are either miserably full or terribly hungry. But after your body adjusts you will notice the changes almost immediately.
3) Change your supplements
No one wants to change their supplements; at least I don’t enjoy doing it. In a perfect world I could take the same pre workout forever and feel the same results. Unfortunately this isn’t possible. Just like old training principles, your body will adjust to your supplements. Pre workouts are something I use on a daily basis. I love the energy kick from them. I drink no other caffeine throughout the day so they really hit hard. The best pre workout I’ve ever tried is the N.0. Extreme by Cellucor. It is creatine free and provides an incredible pump and energy boost. I would strongly urge anyone who hasn’t tried it to try it immediately. However, after going through a whole container, it begins to lose its potency. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad product, it just means I’m used to it. This means it’s time for a new one. If you are on a bulking plan, try introducing creatine to your array of supplements. Conversely, if you are on a bulking plan and you’ve been using creatine, take it out for a couple weeks. You won’t lose anything but a bit of water weight, and when you reintroduce it to your system the effect will be like the first time you tried it. This principle is the same for tons of supplements. I got extremely tolerant to beta alanine, one of my favorite ingredients. When I removed it from my plan for a couple weeks, then reintroduced it, my system freaked out and I felt like I was going to scratch off my skin.
The point is that when your body isn’t used to something the reaction is more extreme. In this sport, you want the reaction to be as extreme as possible. If you are stuck in a rut and aren’t sure why, it is simply because you’ve hit a plateau and until you change something, your body won’t change anything. They are frustrating and can step all over your confidence, but with a few tweaks they can be easily beaten. Remember, muscles that misbehave deserve to be punished. You have an array of torture devices at your disposal to ensure the muscle learns its lesson. Use them.
Follow Gunnar’s Progress on Instagram @theonepecwonder
I have two more Learn 2 Lifts this Year and both are with my man Zach Even-Esh. We are in New Jersey in this weekend, and then back in North Carolina in October. Find our more below: