The main reason most guys hit the gym is because they want to get strong. During the first year or so of training you will gain strength and size and these noticeable results will keep you psyched and coming back for more and bigger gains. The stress you place upon your body, the hormonal changes that occur and the rush you get from working out will keep you motivated. But inevitably your body will adapt to the increased activity until you reach what is known as a plateau. It happens to every athlete, bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast. Here are five things you can do to overcome those frustrating stalling periods.

First, have a plan. Going to the gym can be fun, at first. But like every serious activity in life, you must have a blueprint, a plan for your fitness training if you’re going to succeed and secure gains. Discern which days you’re going to work out and schedule gym time into your day like conference calls, business meetings and doctor’s appointments. Research and study workout programs online. Keep a journal of your workouts. Take measurements- body fat%, BMI, and girth measurements- initially and every 2-3 months to chart progress. Take an honest look at your body and lifestyle and set goals for yourself. Train to achieve those goals—great goals, your goals!

Second, make sure to include important multi-joint movements in your training sessions. Here I’m referring to squats, dead-lifts, military presses and flat bench presses. Performing these or some variation of these exercises safely and with a challenging weight, you can stimulate muscle growth, increase firing rate of muscles, and increase testosterone and growth hormone in your body. More than likely you’ll cut some extra body fat as well!

Third, make sure to work at the things you’re not fond of and you’ll set yourself apart from the crowd. Ever notice those big guys who strut around on pencil legs with super developed upper bodies? Don’t be one of them. Make sure and work out each muscle group of the body using exercises, movements, and stretches that will help you achieve a strong, symmetrical  physique. Don’t be afraid to train a little harder and a little extra those muscle groups that lag behind.

Fourth, don’t forget to rest. Muscles grow bigger and stronger not when you’re pounding them in the gym, but when you give them time to rest and recover. Don’t be afraid to take a day or two off from the gym each week!

Fifth, be mindful of your nutrition, especially your protein intake if you want to grow and get stronger. Whether you’re building muscle, cutting fat, or both, you need the proper nutrition to help reshape, grow and sculpt your body.

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Tom Bonanti is a personal trainer and licensed massage therapist (MA40288) with his own one on one training studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com. Contact Tom with questions regarding fitness and nutrition trainertomb@aol.com or call to schedule a free fitness intake massage (954) 557-1119.