Breaking Plateaus

09 Mar
A plateau is when you stop making any physical gains either in gaining muscle mass, losing fat or gaining strength. Now, there are plenty of articles on Bodybuilding.com about advanced methods of pushing your body to its limit and shocking your muscles to grow. However, this article won’t be written in such form. That’s because you guys are on different levels of training. Most of you guys, unless you’re already competing at a high level of competition, won’t need such shocking technique as you have not covered your basics.

breaking plateaus

During my nine years of training, my progress were in steps. Sudden spurt in gains, followed by a plateau, then another spurt, plateau, repeat. A spurt happens when I learn something new about bodybuilding or implement something new into my programme. So here’s a record of what changes I’ve made to my programme that created those spurts. Note that I was young, did not know any bodybuilders personally and the Internet was pretty raw with bodybuilding information back then. If I had the money and right info, I would have done what I’m doing now. So if you have the money, seriously, do yourself a favour and hire an experienced personal trainer. It may be expensive, but you’ll save yourself many years of effort.

So take a look at my progression, find out which stage are you at, and follow what I did to experience your own growth spurt.

Age: 11 Weight:36kg

Pre-bodybuilding Wee Kiat.

So my bodybuilding journey begins! My only guide back then was my aunt, who was just an occasional gym-goer and the old edition (yellow front page) of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, which is honestly, pretty outdated, even at that time. Believe me, I love the book so much and I’ve read it and looked at the photos at least twenty times. However, I was overtraining (training up to two and a half hours one session), with too little frequency (once or twice a week) and didn’t have the right technique. But I did make gains because after all, the untrained body gains muscle easily with whatever stimulus it gets. And I was eating six meals a day already, even though it’s low-protein crap such as bread, instant noodles, leftovers. Still, I include this step because I have so many people who tell me that they wanna transform their body but have yet to touch any weights (doing only push ups and sit ups) and not eating enough meals. So if you’re not even at this step, do it!

Age: 13 Weight: 50kg

Damn! Look at those skinny arms! Age 15 in this photo.

Training is the same. Still with the crappy technique while not stressing the targeted muscle enough. The biggest change I’ve made at this time was that I started taking supplements. I started with the very basic, whey and creatine monohydrate. Other than that, I added meat to my six meals too. However, because I lack the cooking skills, all I had were eggs, sausages and sandwich ham. Eggs are great but sausages and sandwich ham are not pure meat, therefore not as effective. Still, I hit a few milestones at this age, such as being able to bench my own weight, perform several chin ups without assistance and have a few tiny muscle bumps popping out.

Age: 17 Weight: 67kg

On stage during Mr Kuala Lumpur 2008.

College starts! And I got my driver’s license too so I could travel to further gyms. So I signed up with a better gym. It has more weights, more machines and most importantly, a more hardcore and supportive community. By now, with more knowledge about current training programmes, I’ve reduced my volume to a more appropriate number of sets (around 6 to 10 working sets per body part). And yes, 6 to 10 sets is too low for most situations, but it was better than 20-25 sets that the skinny Lai Wee Kiat did at age 11. Also, I was training more often. Three to four times a week, to be exact. At this time, I had some bulk already. Also, I established a better mind-muscle connection, so my exercises had more specific stress on the muscle I was targeting.

Age: 19 Weight: 72kg

Time for the final chapter of my formal education – tertiary education at the National University of Singapore. Before I started my university life, I worked for one year, abandoned my training and lost a lot of momentum and some muscle mass. However, if this happens and you restart your training programme, your muscles will grow and adapt quickly because of “muscle memory”. This year, I increased my volume to 12 to 16 sets per bodypart and I took more supplements – weight gainer and BCAA. My strength increased a lot, my big lifts were 100kg+ and in just two months, I went from 72kg to 75kg. If I had any weakness in my programme, it would be me missing meals.

Age: 20 Weight: 75kg
muscular back
At Mr Kuala Lumpur 2010

After competing in Mr Kuala Lumpur 2010, my weight rebounded from contest eight of 67kg to 75kg. Pretty much abandoned training to focus on my studies. Training was three times a week. Diet has lots of missing meals. Until…

Age: 20 Weight: 76kg
December 2010. Exams are over and I wanted to take advantage of this period to bulk up. And I did. If you look at this post – Bulking Up, I made loads of gains. My supplement stack was comprehensive (Multivitamins, fish oil, whey, protein isolate blend, creatine, arginine, test booster, CLA, etc) and I trained five to six times a week. Missing meals were rare, perhaps only a few times a week. In the end, I got up to 83kg, and was stronger than ever.

So there’s my chronicle of how I broke my plateaus. For guys who are already doing what I’m doing plus more, sorry but I can’t help you from first hand experience. But perhaps you might *cough*consider steroids*cough*. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Breaking Plateaus

  1. Nice post. They say that variety is the spice of life. Well that goes for bodybuilding too. You have to change your routine constantly to keep your muscles guessing and growing!

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