by Branden Hayward, Physique Coach
Admitting that what I’m doing isn’t working, is one of the most painful and best things I’ve ever done for myself.
In June of 2018, I looked at shirtless photos of myself living my damn life during the Pride March in NYC.
I saw so much joy on my face. But my heart also sank when I looked at the photos. I was devastated, because despite having muscle, and having spent years on my fitness / diet / etc., my body didn’t look nearly as hot as I’d always wanted it to.
I was fortunate. I knew who I could turn to for help – a former colleague who was a pro bodybuilder.
Tonight’s article is a distillation of what I’ve learned from him, other pros, and myself over my decade in fitness.
They are the four best ways to reset and redirect when your results have hit a plateau.
1. Fat Loss Plateaus
Most frequent cause: You’re taking in more calories than you’re expending.
How to treat: Try intermittent fasting, eating only during an 8 hour period each day. This is not a magic solution. It is a practical one. It restricts calories. It works, unless you gorge during those 8 hours.
Or treat by: Logging your daily food intake. Then, cut your daily calories by 10-15% once you’ve established what your baseline is. Or, maintain your intake, but add 1-2 hours/week of concentrated, compound weightlifting. This will markedly increase the amount of calories you’re expending.
If/when all of the above are in place, the next key is to guarantee you’re taking in a minimum of 130-180 grams (depending on your size) of lean protein from natural sources, each day.
Second most frequent case: If/when you’ve already been doing all of the above, and you’re still coming up empty, you may not be getting enough rest. Explore that. Identify what you can sacrifice/modify to get an extra hour/sleep a night.
Third most frequent cause: You may be miscounting your calories. Write me back and I can send you my guide for working around this roadblock that very occasionally derails clients.
2. Muscle Growth Plateaus
Most frequent cause: Not enough calories – specifically, carbohydrates.
How to treat: Log your daily food intake, then increase your daily calories by 10-15% once you’ve established what your baseline is. Ensure that your daily carb intake in grams is at least 2.5 times your current weight in pounds, and that your protein intake in grams is at least a minimum of your body weight in pounds.
Second most frequent cause: Not enough rest.
How to treat: Explore that. Identify what you can sacrifice/modify to get an extra hour/sleep a night.
Third most frequent cause: A workout routine that is not balanced.
How to treat: Regardless of which areas on your body you want to grow the most, you need to ensure that you’re not only hitting up your legs twice/week, but that you’re also hitting them hard. This means that you should be struggling at the end of your sets. If your appetite isn’t spiked the evening and day following your legs workout, you probably need to revamp it. Feel free to reach out to me for help. The next muscle group you should focus on is your back – twice a week, as well. Then, you can focus on your trophy muscles – chest, shoulders, arms and abs.
3. Strength Plateaus
Most frequent cause: You aren’t benefiting from the awesome power of “negative” reps. They are easier than traditional reps, but still brutally target the muscles you want to target, using the power of gravity. They allow you to add more traditional reps to your sets in just a few quick weeks.
How to treat: Begin implementing said negative reps. See below.
For chin-ups (back, bicep, shoulder muscles): place a sturdy bench or box underneath the chin-up bars. Use a height that allows you to firmly grip the bars while standing on the box. Then, holding the bars tightly, literally jump up, try to use your strength to hold yourself frozen in mid air for a moment, and then fight gravity to lower your body as slowly as possible. Carefully find the box/bench with your feet. Take a moment to reset, and repeat. Repeat for six reps. You can do these on their own, or throw them in immediately after a traditional set of chin-ups (warning: this second method is not for the faint of heart, but it will help you add reps to your regular sets fairly quickly). Three sets, 2-3 times/week, and add 1-2 reps each week.
For dips (chest, tricep, shoulder muscles): use the same mechanism explained above, using dip bars instead of chin-up bars.
For single leg squats (butt, thighs, calf muscles): set a bench or box at approximately knee height. Stand in front of it, facing away from it. Lift one foot slightly off the ground, digging the standing foot down into the ground with extra moxxy (core engaged, glutes gently engaged, concentrated breathing). Slowly begin to sit back and down onto the bench, keeping the one foot off the ground. Use your strength to fight gravity to lower as slowly as you can until your butt touches – or falls – down onto the bench/box. Put the foot that was in the air, back down on the ground, and stand up normally, using both legs. Repeat five more times one the same leg, before switching sides for six reps. As you get stronger, take longer to lower your body each time, and/or use a bench/box that’s lower to the ground.
4. Endurance Plateaus
Most frequent cause: You’ve only been using a steady-state modality during your cardio / weightlifting workouts. (IE: relatively constant level of exertion throughout the workout.)
How to treat: If you’re using cardio equipment: After your warmup, go for intervals. This would involve a minute of your highest-exertion, barely-withstanding, out-of-breath work, following by 90 seconds-2 minutes of moderate intensity recovery. Repeat 3-10 times, depending on how well conditioned you already are.
If you’re on the gym floor, using weights or bodyweight for resistance training, then stack your exercises so that you have three exercises back to back. The first exercise should cause failure within the first 2-4 reps (chinups, bench press, deadlifts, etc.). The next exercise should cause failure within 10 reps. (Pushups, seated rows, squat-to-presses.) The third exercise should cause failure at the 90 second mark. (Walkouts, running or high knees in place, battle ropes, light squat jumps, step ups.) Avoid resting (any longer than is necessary for safety) between these three exercises. Only when the third exercise has been accomplished, should you take a break. Repeat this circuit for a total of 4 iterations.
Bonus: Want exclusive access to my six – week workout program that takes you the through the above workout prescription? Message me back, and I’ll hook you up for free!
Let me know: which of the above methods do you plan on employing this month?
With love, and self-love,