Breaking Gains Plateaus


I’m 16 years old, been training for a year and my newbie gains are exhausted. Went from 150 to almost 170lbs though, most of it being muscle.

My question is, what should I focus on to break this plateau?


You have reached a critical juncture in your quest for a physical zenith – one where many, many trainees went wrong (including me). Way wrong.. You need to shift your measurement of success from pounds on the scale to strength in the gym.

In my youth, my entire self worth was tied to gaining weight. That’s right, gaining weight – not losing it. I’d see commercials for everyone wanting to lose weight and thought to myself, “what’s wrong with these people? Calories are our friends.”

If I was up a pound or more, I was psyched. If I stayed the same or God forbid lost, I was depressed. And I stayed that way, until the scale budged in my favor again.

Slow Gains

I’m going to tell it like it is: The days of gaining a pound a week of muscle are over. You may catch a wave of 5 or more pounds here and there, but that consistent weekly or monthly gain is history. You need to get the tape measure, training log and timer out, which will be your new gauges of progress.

Take your baseline tape measure measurements upper arm flexed, chest around the nipples, waist around the navel, mid thigh and calves. Put a pair of old jeans on and note how they fit, them throw them in the closet. In the gym, you’re sole reason for being is to lift more this workout vs. the last one.

That’s best accomplished via total tonnage training, or timed sets. I’m growing fonder now of the latter, where you perform as many chin-ups as possible in 5 minutes for example, as a way of keeping it simple.

Reevaluate Every 3 Weeks

Every 3 weeks you’re going to reevaluate. Are you stronger now vs. 3 weeks ago? Sure hope so, because that’s the stimulus for muscle growth. Now, step on the scale and record the number. Heavier than you were a few weeks ago? That’s a good sign, or is it? Time to get the tape measure out.

If your arms, chest, thighs etc measurements are all making bigger circles – it looks promising. But it’s the waist measurement that matters most. If it stays the same or even close – congratulations, you’re gaining muscle. If your waist went up an inch or more, it isn’t muscle and you’ll have to reevaluate.

There is no other way, this focus on strength. If it wasn’t, you’d see guys staying the same or getting weaker and growing muscle. Doesn’t happen folks, and proof positive what I’m telling you is the truth…

Give that a shot, I’m sure you’ll find it superior vs. “gaining weight.”

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.

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