How to avoid performance plateaus when working out at gym

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Introduction

I’ve recently been following a fitness YouTuber ‘Vitruvian Physique’ (real name Igor Opeshansky) a few months ago and have found that his content is high quality, and unique compared to the traditional fitness programmes that we were conditioned to think of.

In fact, he is an all-natural bodybuilder with credentials to prove that he has put the science into himself and no doubt has it been a success!

You can see more of him on his awesome YouTube channel among his other social media profiles. He’s got a great personality too!

I’ve recently read through his e-book ‘Ultimate Hypertrophy’ and would like to share my insights towards it. And no this is not an affiliate post!

With that said he is a natural bodybuilder, with a programme only for natural bodybuilders. So if you use any ‘enhancements’ he is not for you.

Use a periodisation system

Simply put, the periodisation system means splitting the programme into different parts. You could call these split parts as ‘periods’ or ‘cycles’.

The reason for doing so is to avoid the plateau you get when you do the same set of exercises for a long time.

Vitruvian Physique has gone through the research work to get the ideal number of reps, sets, and routine to use which can still be flexible for even a Web developer!

He mentions to ideally hit the gym 5 times a week, having 3 proper workout sessions and 2 gym days for cardio + abs. But if you’re like me I would only hit the gym 3 times a week, e.g. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and include abs + cardio on a Saturday/Sunday, where I can feel good right after, since I will still have to consume my ‘banquets’ in the weekday evenings.

Cycles

With those different periods he further splits them into cycles. Think of a small gear spinning a bigger gear, spinning a humongous gear!

They will be:

  • Microcycles (small time frame)
  • Mesocycles (medium time frame)
  • Macrocycles (large time frame)

Microcycles

These are also known as ‘weeks’. This is needed to count how many weeks you are (out of 17 from his programme).

These microcycles are not the main part though, as we need to keep an eye on the Mesocycles.

Mesocycles

The Mesocycles are also known as ‘months’, but not exactly though. Since the first mesocycle will have 5 weeks, the second one will have 8 weeks, and the final one will have 4 weeks.

Therefore you might want to make sure that you read through the pdf and do that bit of notetaking before going to the gym.

He stresses too that you have to understand how far you can lift 8 reps of a certain weight.

So this is where you trust your body, and really do need to focus on your workouts to make sure that you maintain proper form and use the right weight to maximise your gym time!

Again, productivity/energy/time management in the gym!

Macrocycles

And we now reach a macrocycle, also known as a whole 17 weeks of the programme! He has structured the programme such that the intensity increases from low, medium, to high intensity as you reach your 3rd mesocycle. And that you can have 3 macrocycles in 1 year (17 x 3 = 52 weeks).

This is where his program seems to fit really well, given that you make gym a lifestyle habit.

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Understand your body

But it should not be a problem once you realise that gym is a form of meditation/getaway from business/life and where one can simply understand themselves and know that it is just them in front of the mirror.

There is a great story called ‘The Iron’ by Henry Rollins really worth checking out!

Here is an excerpt of the story:

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you’re a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.

Have one deload week every end of a mesocycle

This is where you get to go low intensity, do lesser exercises than expected, and simply be in a rested state throughout your workouts. It begins on the last week of the Mesocycle, and lasts for 1 week.

In the deload week you still go 3 days a week, but only do 5 sets of 5 reps, with a 20-30 minutes of dynamic (moving) stretching to relax the muscles. This is highly important for making sure that you ensure optimal performance on the next mesocycle! No, this doesn’t mean you should eat as much as you can!

Give your best every time you’re in the gym

Well, give you best in everything you do. So it’s up to you to make sure that you give your best by making sure that your body is given enough nutrition.

I’ve recently started keeping track making sure I get enough micronutrients — fibre, vitamins, minerals — and noticed a great impact in the way I think, perceive the world and people, and detail myself.

I’m not going to be dependent on tablets etc., but will go for adding more plants to my diet since it seems to work well for the micronutrient part of nutrition. That way, tablets are only used when I can’t find plants available to consume.

Takeaway

I will begin Vitruvian Physique’s programme and see how it goes, as he has one of Thomas Jefferson’s quotes in his ebook being:

If you want something you’ve never had before, you’re going to have to do something you’ve never done before.
— Thomas Jefferson

And that goes well for his programme, and in life in general!

I would Highly recommend going to the gym to ensure that you get out all the stress from web development, and completely refocus yourself entirely on creating a great physique, which will have a positive impact on both your self-esteem and general performance in both work and life. Thinking gets clearer, more attention is paid to appearance, and you get a reason to go out more!


If you liked this post, read my article on why think about Energy management, and not just simply Time management.