Do you ever look around the gym and wonder why guys who are there all the time look the same month after month, or even year after year? Heck, do you even get depressed about why YOU seem to grow so slowly, no matter how much time you invest in your workouts? You may have heard or even believed that your stalled progress is because of “inevitable” plateaus that you just have to patiently “push through”…
Well, that’s just a weak excuse that incompetent personal trainers use to explain away the fact that they are collecting serious cash and have no idea how to deliver results. The fact is… There is NO SUCH THING as a “plateau”… or at least, there shouldn’t be. “Still making gains even after 15 years of lifting!” Here’s a progress pic I recently posted on Facebook. Still making gains even after 15 years of lifting!” The elite trainers in the world know this. Actually, they’ve known it since the ‘70s. Great trainers and coaches know exactly how to design programs so that none of their clients ever stop making tremendous progress.
When designing a program, each day, each week, and each month has a purpose. They’re all driving toward one specific goal. Provided you’re willing to commit, there is really no reason why you should ever stop growing. Even the most advanced athletes and bodybuilders continue to make progress year after year if they’re intelligently utilizing the factors that affect hypertrophy. Although there are many different variables that are considered to be vital in intelligent program design and manipulation, in my own quest to be one of the best bodybuilders in the world, and in more than 15 years as a high-level physique coach, I’ve figured out that there are four main “Growth Factors” that are critical to strategically varying stimuli and ensuring progress in any program. These four factors — which I’ll explain on this page below — are part of the Six Forgotten Factors of Hypertrophy and are built into my popular “Pause & Prime” Workouts. If you strategically manipulate these four critical Growth Factors into a periodized plan, you’ll permanently eliminate plateaus and automatically cause continual muscle building and fat loss — all year long.
STOP Using The Same Sets & Reps
Unless you want to keep getting the same mediocre results, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone and switch things up. And one of the fastest ways to ignite massive new growth is to change up the total amount of work that you are doing in a workout — Volume. Now, before you start screaming about some lame-ass excuse like overtraining, let me tell you that 99.9% of the guys I’ve worked with aren’t anywhere near the workload that could push them into a state of overtraining, and knowing exactly how long to subject your body to this type of training before you back off is what a great trainer is for.
Strategic high volume phases push the boundaries of something called “overreaching,” which is akin to pushing well beyond where you’ve been in the past, before backing off and allowing your body to adapt and grow in response to this new stimulus. Pushing the limits with Ben Pakulski. Best training partner I’ve ever had. “Pushing the limits with Ben Pakulski. One of the best training partners I’ve ever had.” Strategically increasing your volume — your total number of sets per day, week, or month — at the right time, and in the right way, is actually one of the fastest ways to create a new growth stimulus.
However, doing this wrong can spell disaster. Trying to get strong, building muscle, or losing fat, all have very different set and rep requirements. If you start playing with volume before you have a crystal clear goal — your ability to know what biofeedback to look for becomes skewed — you are setting yourself up for stalled progress. And with poor progress comes the vicious cycle of loss of motivation.
Forget About Training Each Body Part Once Per Week (Frequency)
Knowing how often a body part can be trained, relative to the amount of stimulus or stress you subject it to — and the type of stress — is yet another one the most important factors of hypertrophy. Unfortunately for most people, the number of trainers and coaches who take the time to understand this stuff, especially with respect to how it affects building muscle, are few and far between.
The greatest coaches in the world have been applying these principles to Olympic athletes and professional athletes since the ‘60s. But because bodybuilding was often viewed as a sport of genetics and huge egos, it has been overlooked with respect to hypertrophy programs. How often you train each body part must correlate to the level of intensity, metabolic stress and mechanical damage being inflicted on a muscle or on your entire body.
Did you know that smaller body parts can be trained more often, whereas larger body parts require more volume to achieve maximum stimulus and therefore should be trained less often?
High amounts of mechanical stress will leave you needing more time to recover, but greater metabolic stress requires less time to recover but actually increases your need for alkalizing minerals.
I know I know, its sounds complicated and I don’t expect you to master it right now. But taking the time to read this article is step one. I will do my best to teach you here, but if you’d like to go deeper, I urge you to download this 54 page manual dedicated to the 6 Forgotten Factors of Hypertrophy.
Ignore The Common Advice on Rep Range for Hypertrophy (Intensity)
How many reps for hypertrophy? If I was a betting man, I’d say you answered 8 reps… Right? After all, that’s what all the textbooks say. Yet sticking to that rep range — or any rep range for that matter — is the perfect recipe for stalled progress. Truth is, sometimes you have to train heavy, with very low reps in order to get bigger. Now, if you heard that low reps don’t build muscle, it’s true to a certain extent. However, doing it right will make you freaky strong — and fast. And that will set you up for massive new muscle growth. Which is why you have to go through a period of high intensity training periodically. Of all the Factors of Hypertrophy, it’s probably the most misunderstood.
From an exercise physiology perspective, Intensity has nothing to do with crazy Crossfit-style WOD workouts, or all out “effort.” leg press intensity. Instead, it’s actually how much you are lifting in relation to your 1 rep maximum. As an example, training at your 4 rep maximum weight is more intense than training at your 8 rep max, or if you’re doing a single rep max effort lift, you’re at 100% of your intensity. So, do not confuse intensity with effort. A “tough” workout is not necessarily intense according to the correct definition. Now, you don’t want to train in the Max-Intensity zone all the time. But knowing when to use it and when to back away is critical for your optimal muscle growth.
Don’t Be Scared Of “Shorter” Workouts (Density)
Even suggesting that most guys take less rest in the gym sends shivers of fear down their spines — “You mean, I have to sweat? But it hurts when I do that.” Most men — and you’re likely guilty of this too… admit it — insist on looking like the strong guy in the gym even if it is costing them their gains. If you are looking to improve your physique, gain some serious muscle, and shed those few inches of chub, learning to manipulate “density” might be your most valuable tool for improving body composition.
Try knocking off 20 seconds between each set for starters and progress from there. That simple change itself will massively impact your training, and positively impact your body composition in no time at all. To put it simply, density is the amount of time allowed to perform a prescribed amount of total work. Think of doing the exact same workout, in less time. The greater the density, the more metabolic demand on the body than less dense workouts.
The goal of dense workouts is to increase the metabolic stress on the body and increase hormonal response to training. Now you’re probably starting to feel the power of understanding these ignored Growth Factors. Each of them — on their own — is a massive force that will help change your physique. If you still think getting the body you want is simply a matter of working out harder, or staying in the gym longer… then go back and read this article again.
Most likely you can’t train much harder than you’re currently so where does that leave your gains? Nowhere… Unless you start training SMARTER! And this is why I’m personally inviting you to click on the image below and try my “Prime & Pause” workouts at no charge. You’ll quickly discover how the strategic manipulation of specific workout and nutrition techniques will permanently eliminate any plateaus, quickly spark noticeable muscle growth week after week and month after month, and actually trim fat from your six pack even as you pack on brand new muscle mass.