"Do you believe that you can reach a genetic limit? I’ve been training for what seems like my whole life and aside from the first few years of working out, I have really not gained measurement increases to any appreciable degree since then. My arms pretty much measure the same whether off-season or precontest. I’m beginning to think I’ve reached my natural limit. I really hate to even say that because I don’t want to believe I’ve reached the apex of my genetic potential or even that there is a limit, but lately I’ve been wondering. What do I need to change to start seeing growth again? Please help me out here because I’m tired of feeling like all the time and hard work spent in the gym is doing nothing but maintaining what I built a decade ago. Thanks so much."
I was beginning to think I’d reached my genetic limit. Now I know there is no limit.
I wrote that letter to Roger at Beverly International September 20, 2002. In this article, I’ll share with you the six-week diet, supplement, and training program he formulated to catapult me from 187 pounds at 5.8 percent bodyfat to 197.5 pounds at 6.1 percent bodyfat in just six weeks. I hope that you can use these training and nutritional guidelines to get you back on the path to muscular gains.
Six week attack plan
Come on, let’s say it together I’m stuck in a plateau and I have no idea how to break out of it. Whew! Don’t you feel better now? Listen, it’s okay; the first step towards recovery is being able to admit there’s a problem. The next step is seeking a solution. Don’t worry, though, you’re not alone. Thousands and thousands of bodybuilders just like you also suffer from the addictive effects of the dreaded plateau. If you feel you may be caught in the evil clutches of stagnation, then this article may be just what you need to get that bony monkey off your back.
The Plateau Problem
The problem lies in the fact that we all believe we’re doing the right things in and out of the gym when it comes to building muscle. I certainly did. I thought I was doing everything right to elicit the Herculean gains I was seeking my training, after all, was both intense and consistent, wasn’t that enough? A random attack by a pack of angry midget clowns was perhaps the only event that could prevent me from missing a workout (suffice it to say I never missed). As far as my diet, I was eating clean bodybuilder foods every 2-3 hours so I must have been doing everything I should diet-wise, too, right? Wrong.
While intensity and consistency are absolutes for growing bodybuilders, they are only part of the equation. Proper nutrition and supplementation are by far the meat and potatoes (no pun intended) of your success as a bodybuilder. The training aspect cannot be taken for granted, but more emphasis should be given to the diet because without proper sustenance we could workout until our eyes bleed and it wouldn’t matter if we’re not supplying our bodies with sufficient nutrient dense calories and quality supplements it needs to grow beyond average.
I discovered that both aspects of my program needed adjusting. It wasn’t easy, but I finally had to admit to myself that perhaps what I had been doing for years on end in the gym was no longer effective for obtaining additional gains in lean mass and that I needed to make a change. I also had to admit that my total calorie intake, while great for staying lean and muscular, might need to be increased in order to grow again.
You, too, must ask yourself if you have been making the gains you think you should be, relative to the amount of time and effort you put into both your diet and your training. If you’re experience parallels mine, then it may be time for something different.
Why Is It Not So Simple
We’ve already established that those seeking increases in muscular weight gain must eat and train. You already knew this. The obstacle we run into is how to eat, and how to train. It’s only when we get these facets of our plan straight that we begin seeing results. But it’s not that simple. The body is quick to adapt. It’s an extremely efficient machine determined to keep things as they are. Deliberate, conscious decisions must be made to force your body to change beyond what it is accustomed to maintaining. What may have worked for you once to stimulate muscle growth may not work the same way again. That’s when change is necessary.
Because bodybuilding is such a multifarious endeavor, there will never be one magical diet and training program that will work for you again and again year after year. There are so many variables and variations for what to do and what’s required that you do that it can become a bit overwhelming. Clearly bodybuilding is not meant for weak individuals. In many sports you can practice a few hours a day, a few days a week and succeed. Bodybuilding, however, requires you to live it both on and off the field. If you’re not doing everything necessary outside of the gym to ensure you will grow, then the time you spend actually in the gym means very little to your overall results. This is what separates a bodybuilder from a gym lifter.
A gym lifter goes to the gym and lifts weights with no clear-cut plan or purpose. A bodybuilder on the other hand methodically enters the gym with a premeditated plan of attack and is prepared for the remaining 22-23 hours of the day. He has goals and has calculated exactly what he needs to do to reach them (even if that means creating a data chart and corresponding graph on his computer so that he needn’t guess at his next move, and which also serves as a visible indication of how his program is working). Let’s face it, after those fortuitous gains you saw in your first two or three years of lifting, further advances in lean mass gains do not happen quite so easily, but don’t worry; you’re not alone.
There is a lot of information circulating about as to the best way to approach building the body of a Greek God. It can be an arduous task just sifting through all this information to finally discover what works for you. The diehards, though, are the ones that trudge through the thick, verdant fields of information (often misinformation) and begin cutting through crap to discover what works and what doesn’t (and what to believe and what not to).
Others will either give up altogether or continue looking the same year after year and remain unconvincingly satisfied with that. By the way, I can say from personal experience that the information provided to you from Beverly International is both completely credible and proven. What’s amazing is I’ve read every single Beverly article and had never seen a program remotely resembling the training program Roger set up to blast me through my sticking point.
The Training Variable
Let’s begin our discussion with training because whether or not our diet is right on, we always seem to make it to the gym with no problem because we love to lift, right? There are as many training programs available as there are male fans of Brittany Spears. The idea here is to use them use all of them if you want but don’t stick with the same one for too long or you will adapt to it and your progress will begin to slow down. Remember, the body is amazingly efficient and will adapt to the same stimulus.
The training program that I used is summarized in the box below. However, please read the text thoroughly for an explanation of how each set is to be performed.
Remember, it’s the intelligent application of the program that is the key to its effectiveness.
Close grip Pulldowns Shrugs
Push press or
Military press Barbell curls
* Total number of sets including warm-up sets.
Notice I stuck with the basic, core exercises. If you want to pack on thick, solid muscle, you must stick to the basics. This was something I had gotten away from over the years, but re-introduced into my workout regime with obvious success. I was again reminded of how much fun deadlifts, dips, and military presses were and how much more powerful I felt doing multi-joint exercises versus moving a weight stack up and down via an attached cable.
This program is based on a few primary training principles: core exercises, high volume, timed rest periods and incremental progression. It is the intelligent application of these basic principles that makes this routine so effective. Record everything! Every set, every poundage used, and even the rest interval between sets, then each week try to improve on one or more sets for each exercise.
The Diet Variable
If your daily diet consists of nibbling on lettuce leaves and handfuls of trail mix then don’t expect to be any more impressive than your skinny younger brother. You’ve heard it before and it’s worth mentioning again you must eat big to be big. That doesn’t mean eat whatever you can shovel into your mouth because that will just make you big and fat. Clean, nutritionally dense foods are the special on tonight’s menu.
Of critical importance is protein how much and from what sources. Unfortunately, simply eating the recommended daily allowance of protein (which I think is ridiculously low according to the FDA whether you’re an athlete or a torpid couch potato) just isn’t going to get you too far in the iron game. Protein intake should remain high and it should come from quality sources found in beef, chicken, eggs, fish, cottage cheese, and any and all Beverly products that contain protein. Trust me on this.
During the six weeks I followed thisprogram, I ate enormous amounts of food. There were days I thought about inviting a small third world country over to my house to share my daily food requirement with, but with the cost of airfare and not knowing where I would house them all I decided against it (That was a bad joke for those gullible few out there).
Seriously though, I did increase my calories considerably beyond what I typically ate in a day, which is what was necessary to break out of the plateau I was in. It worked as you can plainly see from the graph. Although I went from eating ~3200K per day to ~5100K per day, my bodyfat went up only .03%. That’s nothing. In fact, my lean mass gain during these six weeks was 9.35 pounds and my bodyfat increase was 1.15 pounds. Keep in mind that these gains were made without the use of steroids! I’ve never used them in my life. All I did was increase my calories by adding Mass Maker and UMP to my normal calorie intake!
What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. But there is good news! The good news is that there are generally minor differences between what works for one and not for another. In other words, you can take a program that one person has had great results from and tweak it slightly to fit your particular needs. For instance, because Beverly International designed the program outlined in this article for a natural bodybuilder and not a seasoned IFBB professional, you may find you can follow it exactly with very few alterations. A word of caution: the training program is based on nutritional super compensation. If you are unable to eat and supplement as I did you’ll need to cut one or two work sets from each exercise of the training program. You may also need to reduce the calories slightly as I have a super fast metabolism.
It’s important we not acquiesce to the genetic limitation fallacy. If we begin believing that how we look now is the best we can get, then we will have surrendered to the ominous plateau. Don’t give in and don’t give up. Change up what you are currently doing both with your diet and your training and begin seeing that gap in your shirtsleeves getting smaller What are you waiting for? GET GROWING!
Also by Greg I gained 7lbs of lean mass my first 8 weeks. Advanced Plateau Buster Training Strategy