The Muscle Mass Plateau
Despite lifting and increasing your protein consumption, you’re not gaining size or seeing improved muscle definition.
What to do:
Increase your calories
Men who are trying to increase muscle mass and lose unwanted fat may be sabotaging their efforts by consuming too few calories. “Most guys know that they need adequate protein,” says Antonucci. “But if they’re watching their physique, they may not be eating enough calories to induce muscle weight gain.” Getting a resting metabolic test from a sports dietician can help you find a specific recommendation, not just an average or estimate, for exactly how many calories you need to gain, and maintain, muscle.
Go back to basics
Fitness trends come and go, but you can’t go wrong with the classics. Mucurio recommends maximizing your time at the gym by focusing on compound, functional movements like squats, deadlifts, pushes, and pulls. “These exercises utilize multiple muscle groups simultaneously, forcing your body to use more energy and recruit more muscle fibers,” he says. If you’ve been working at a challenging weight and still aren’t seeing results, try doing fewer reps at a heavier weight. “Many times you will build strength, size and definition by simply working three to five sets of three to five reps at a challenging load,” says Mucurio.
Change your perspective
The primary focus of exercise should always be on its health and performance benefits, says Garber. “There are physiological limits on how much improvement you can make, so make sure you are realistic,” she says. In other words, if it’s not in your genes, you may never have six-pack abs or jacked shoulders, no matter how hard you train. But that doesn’t mean you won’t live to be 100 and be able to out-run and lift men half your age. And while it’s important to have goals, chasing some unattainable stereotype of an ideal body can lead to a tailspin of frustration and unhealthy choices. It may sound trite, but it’s worth remembering: Work for your best body, not someone else’s.