To plateau or not to plateau

December 07, 2005

Consider this scenario...

A 20 year old starts strength training. She wants strong arms and so she starts out using a light weight for an arm curl exercise (as she should for saftey and learning purposes) and works up to using 30 pounds where the weight really  begins to challenge her appropriatley.

She correctly adds resistance session by session and 6 months later is using 50 pounds. This is a common and expected outcome. Other expected outcomes include increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass (assuming no change in diet or body weight), and her overall body tone is much better. Just what the doctor ordered.

Training correctly, she continues to exercise and adds a mere 1/2 pound to her exercise every week, training twice a week. A half pound increase is a VERY small graduation - what we call microlaoding at Serious Strength (the doctors love it) and keeps the muscle challenged and safe from excessive loading. In doing so, she continues to increase her strength VERY graudually, almost imperceptably at a steady, even pace. At the end of another year of training, she is now using an additional 52 pounds on top of her 50 for a grand total of 102 pounds! She has increased her strength by 240%! Mighty mighty!

OK now, hold onto your hats - If after 10 years at the young age of 30, she continued to add even just 1/4 pound to her exercise, meaning, a mere half pound per week, she will have added another 260 pounds to her arm curl right?

Wrong. Don't think so. Not posible. I think you can see where this is all headed, right?

Very often people remark that their strength or muscle mass has plateaued. My answer is "Yes, of course it has!" We need to be realistic in our training. We need to understand that when we plateau it is often not the fault of the training program if it is a good one, but the hard facts of genetic limits. You just can't keep getting stronger forever. It's why bodybuilders spend millions on magic supplements, take steroids, try all kinds of illogical and dangerous training programs.

No one will ever run the 100 meter sprint in 2 seconds. I can gaurantee you it will never, ever, happen. A Cheetah can't do it. Neither can a car. No one will ever hit 700 home runs in a single season. Sorry.  There are limits to just about everything and living within these limits improves our outlook and can greatly ease our minds.

If your training is sound, you will reach your limits in strength and muscle mass in 2-5 years of consistant or semi consistant training. Don't fall for the gimmicks. Don't take steroids. Don't drink Yoo-hoo. Accept the facts and enjoy your beautiful body!