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Why Muscle Stopped Growing? Break the Muscle Growth Plateau I Wish I Knew This

Two muscular men in a gym, one flexing his biceps while the other looks straight ahead

Do you often stare blankly at the mirror, wondering why your muscles stopped growing despite your consistent workout routine? If so, you're not alone. Many fitness enthusiasts experience a muscle growth plateau. These are the important things I wish I knew when I started working out. They would have saved me so much time. This article is also valuable for those who have just started working out or are thinking of starting. I promise it will help you achieve your fitness goals much faster.

Understanding the Concept of Muscle Growth Plateau

A muscle growth plateau is a phase where your muscles stop responding to your workout routine. No matter how much you lift or how many reps you do, your muscles don't seem to grow. It's a common obstacle that most fitness enthusiasts face at some point.

Why does Muscle Growth Plateau happen?

Muscle growth plateau occurs due to various reasons. You may be overtraining, under-eating, or not getting enough rest. However, the most common reason is that your muscles have adapted to your current workout routine. Your body is an adaptive machine, and if you're doing the same exercises with the same intensity and volume, your muscles won't feel challenged and therefore won't grow.

How to Identify a Muscle Growth Plateau?

Identifying a muscle growth plateau can be tricky. It's not just about not seeing new muscle growth. If your strength levels are not increasing, or if you're not able to lift heavier weights or do more reps, then you're probably at a plateau.

Tips to Break The Muscle Growth Plateau

Do It Until Failure

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary bodybuilder, said, 'The whole goal in weight lifting is to work your muscles to failure, which we sometimes forget.' Yes, most people facing a plateau forget this or don't even know that the key to building muscle is working the muscles to failure.

Do you stop when you feel fatigued but not in pain? Do you stop when you still have the strength to do another rep? Do you stop before breathing hard?

Arnold did squats with six hundred pounds until he couldn't breathe, and he wanted to puke. He would arm curl until he felt pain as if his arms were falling off the ground. He did it consistently. That's why he had that insane physique and won Mr. Olympia seven times. If you want to grow your physique and break your plateau, do more reps, do it until failure, and don't leave any energy behind.

Feel the pain, as They Say, No Pain, No Gain

Muhammad Ali famously stated that he didn't start counting his sit-ups until they hurt. 'They're the only ones that count,' he said. 'That's what makes you a champion.' If your initial goal is 10 reps, don't stop once you've reached it. Begin counting from there, ideally starting when your muscles begin to ache. See how much you can push beyond your initial goal.

Reps Build Strength, But Pain Builds Size

In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger, 'Reps build strength, but pain builds size.' If you don't feel the pain, you're not pushing hard enough. If you want to get bigger, chase the pain rather than just aiming for more reps. Don't be satisfied solely by the number of reps or the weight you lift. Go beyond that. Forget about the ideal reps suggested by science. Whether you focus on reps or weight, do it until you feel the pain.

Don't Limit Your Workout Duration: Work Out for More Than One Hour If You Don't Feel Enough

Back in the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger trained for 4 to 5 hours a day—two and a half in the morning and two and a half in the evening. Can you imagine if he had limited his workouts to just one hour a day? Would he have achieved the remarkable gains he did?

Don't Buy Into the Myth of the Ideal Workout Duration

When I started working out, various fitness influencers on YouTube, blog articles, and scientific research claimed not to work out for more than one hour, citing potential drawbacks to muscle growth. I used to believe those notions and had wasted so much time. Those notions are trash because Arnold worked out for 5 hours a day, and if more than one hour of exercise were detrimental to building muscle, he wouldn't have attained such massive size! So, if you're concerned that working out for more than one hour might hinder muscle growth, forget that idea. If you don't feel satisfied, go the extra mile until you feel the pain and see the progress.

You Can Work Out the Same Body Parts Every Day

Another debunked myth is the idea that you shouldn't train the same body part every day. In Miami in 1968, Arnold Schwarzenegger lost his first competition in America to fellow bodybuilder Frank Zane. Despite Arnold being bigger than him, he noticed that Frank was more defined and had bigger calves. As we know calves are the hardest part to develop and so many guys struggle to build size there, which became Arnold's focus.

How to Grow Calves, Biceps, and Other Tough-to-Develop Body Parts?

Arnold started working on his calves every day. Initially, he used to train calves last thing in before he left the gym, but it became the first thing he did when he came into the gym. He consistently performed calf raises with a thousand pounds on the machine for dozens of reps, seven days a week. A year later, he clinched his first Mr. Olympia title.

If you're struggling to develop a particular body part, consider training it every day until you experience soreness. Biceps are not growing? Train your arms every day until you can't do another curl. Want to fix skinny calves? Do calf raises with weights daily. Want to get a thick neck? Train it every day. Aiming for a defined six-pack? Train your core every day.

Train consistently unless you're experiencing soreness. This approach can significantly impact the size of your muscles.

Calves are basically the biceps of the leg: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Do It With Proper Form and Switch to Improper Form When You Reach Muscle Failure

Executing repetitions with perfect form and strict control is essential for gaining mass and preventing injuries. To push beyond your limits, switch to improper form only after you are unable to maintain proper form.

Arnold Schwarzenegger invented a weight training method called 'the cheating principle.' Once you've reached your maximum number of lifts with perfect form, making slight adjustments, such as moving your wrists or leaning back, can activate additional muscles to assist the working muscle, allowing you to squeeze out an extra 5 or 6 reps.


Overcoming a muscle growth plateau requires patience and determination. It's about pushing your limits and embracing the pain. It's about going the extra mile and not being afraid to train the same body part every day. Remember, it's not about how many reps you do or how much weight you lift. It's about how much you're willing to push yourself. Because in the end, as Schwarzenegger says, "The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow.

Note: This article is inspired by the book "Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life" by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While the book doesn't focus solely on fitness, it also sheds light on his remarkable bodybuilding career. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best example of the American dream coming true, shares with you seven important tools for life. This is a truly inspiring and valuable book that captures the essence of his experiences and wisdom.


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