HomebodybuildingBreak Through Plateaus: High Intensity Training Strategies for Continuous Muscle Growth

Break Through Plateaus: High Intensity Training Strategies for Continuous Muscle Growth

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Break Through Plateaus with High Intensity Training

So here’s the deal. I’m a lifetime natural bodybuilder, and for the past three decades plus, I’ve trained with a rather unconventional form of high intensity training that allowed me to always overcoming training plateaus and keep building muscle as a natural athlete. And part of my life mission is sharing what I’ve learned along this decades-long path.

And here’s my story.

I was able to go from 125 pounds to being able to realize my dream of competing as a natural bodybuilder. And it took me just about 11 years to get to a point where I really looked like I belonged on stage.

And what’s most interesting about my path of going from being a skinny teenager to a natural bodybuilding champion is the fact that I did not experience very much in the way of plateaus.

With decades of training bodybuilder Kevin Richardson continues to make progress

I train with high intensity workouts that last 10, 15, max, 20 minutes only 3 times a week.

And one of the main things about training this way is that as the years went by, I kept on getting slightly bigger and I kept on also getting stronger, stronger to the point where in my late thirties to early forties, I had to start dialing down and focusing really on intensity because I reached to a point where the weights that I could actually use were extremely heavy because I never really experienced a plateau. 

Bodybuilder Kevin Richardson broke through plateaus and made steady progress with high intensity training

And that’s the most important thing about this particular form of training.

I know a lot of you out there start your routines and have some fantastic results and then as time goes on, results get less and less and less. 

And then you get to a point where you feel like you’re not really getting anywhere, you’re in the point of that dreaded plateau.

New training programs lead to gains as your muscles adapt to unaccustomed stimuli

But imagine being in a place where you didn’t have that much in the way of plateaus, and in this video, I’m going to share some important principles that helped me over the years not experience plateaus, and I’m sure it’s going to help you too. So stay tuned. Let’s talk more about this.

So in this video we’re talking about plateaus, overcoming that dreaded place where you’re training really hard, put everything into it, but you’re not seeing much in the way of results. 

Training plateaus are extremely common in popular and conventional training methods

But before I go any further, I’d like to thank everyone for tuning in, especially those interested in a one-stop place for anyone that’s been training naturally and without drugs.

Thanks so much tuning in, and do be sure to like, subscribe and hit that bell so you’re first in line to get new content as it comes out. And there’s a lot of content coming out, so do stay tuned. 

So, one of the most important aspects of being able to fix or solve any problem is understanding what the problem actually is. 

Why Muscle Gain Plateaus Happen

So think of it this way. Every single aspect of our body is an adaptation that allowed our ancestors to survive. In fact, it’s our ancestral environment that made us what we are today.

Our bodies work and adapt based on our evolutionary past where food was often scarce

And with regards to muscles getting bigger and stronger, what happened was at some point in time, some of our ancestors had to perform tasks that were extremely strenuous, strenuous to the point where it created some degree of overload in order to survive. 

Survival once required huge energy expenditure and thus muscle growth plateaus were critical

And that’s the important point. 

Every single aspect of muscles getting bigger and stronger is a survival mechanism.

So they were doing this to procure food or for self-defense, to do something that allowed them to survive because those who were able to have that adaptation when they really exerted themselves that had an overload and their muscles would respond by increasing the number of contractile proteins, thus increased the size of the muscle and thus the strength of the muscle with the ones who were to best survive in that harsh environment and are our ancestors.

Chart of muscle growth is a form of stress adaptation

But it’s not that simple because if every single time you experienced exertion or overload your muscles got bigger and stronger, we’d all be like The Incredible Hulk after a few years of training and that simply isn’t the case. 

Muscle growth is not endless and training plateaus are normal

Because back in that ancestral environment, we have to know that food was not as super abundant as it tends to be today. 

There were no supermarkets or restaurants. And the only way you can eat back in prehistoric times was through hunting, gathering, which in itself can require a tremendous amount of energy. 

Our bodies try to conserve energy as much as possible making weight loss difficult for many

And so our bodies are designed to be energetically conservative.

It doesn’t want to do anything that’s going to make it burn too many calories, meaning that you have to get too much more food to survive in an environment where there is not much food to begin with. 

Hunting and gathering food required large amounts of energy that we don't use today

And the problem is that muscle mass is extremely metabolically active, meaning that it takes a lot of calories to maintain muscle mass. 

And while today the idea of muscles needing more energy and bringing more calories sounds fantastic because it means that the more muscles you have, the more you can eat and stay lean, but for our ancestors, it’s a bit of a problem because the more muscle you have, the more food you need to consume to maintain it. 

Muscle tissue has a large energy expenditure requiring higher food consumption to maintain

And so it became a bit of a balancing act whereas if our body did something that created some kind of overload, it would get bigger and stronger, but wouldn’t keep on consistently getting bigger and stronger if it didn’t cause it the same degree of overload because your body doesn’t want to be in a place where it’s so big, it’s impossible to get food because the reality is our body is our product of our ancestral past.

Our bodies adapt and grow based on the environment our ancestors survived in while hunting and gathering food

It doesn’t know that getting bigger is not going to be a problem because it’s still designed to help us be as conservative as possible in the event of there not being enough food. 

And we can see this all the time in our own lives if we start training. Because when you first start training, the results are fantastic. It doesn’t even really matter what program or protocol you’re following, you’re going to get gains because it’s something your body is completely unaccustomed to. 

A new training program will always yield results as you body adapts best to new stimuli

But those gains start slowing down and several weeks or several months into it, there tends to be a point where you will plateau. 

How Varying High Intensity Training Routines Prevents Plateaus

And so one of the fundamental ideas that I came up with was the idea of varying my routine every single time I trained. In fact, when someone asks me, “Kevin, how do you train? How many sets do you do, exercises do you do?”

It’s very difficult to give a really structured answer because every workout is different. 

Every Naturally Intense High Intensity Training workout is different in order to avoid plateaus

I change the exercises, I change the combination of exercises, I change the speed which I do the exercises, number of reps, the number of sets, the different types of training techniques I can employ. 

Anything that can be changed, every single workout I do change so no workout looks the same.

And it’s very different from conventional forms of training, which tend to be all about progressive resistance and trying to do the same exercises over and over and increase your weight over time and recording it. 

Unlike Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, progressive resistance training requires repeating the same exercises over and over leading to plateau

And here’s what’s very important. That may be a very conventional way to putting on muscle and getting bigger and stronger and it has worked for a lot of people. But for the majority of people, they tend to come to a point where there’s a plateau and they don’t keep on getting the same result.

Without new and intense stimuli your body will stop adapting and growing leading to a plateau

And they also tend to be afraid to do something new because what I’m talking about here about every single time doing different exercise, different weights, different cadences, that all sounds very much not like what everybody else is doing. But because it’s different to your body every single time, you have a greater potential for growth and strength increase over time. 

The best way to avoid plateaus is consistently changing high intensity training routines

The Role of Training Intensity’s in Avoiding Plateaus

But only if the second training principle for recommended plateaus is also implemented, which is blistering intensity.

Training with high intensity is one of the best ways to help avoid plateaus

Your training intensity has to be at the point where you’re really going all out. We are against that limit and sometimes even going above and beyond it. 

And a lot of times people come to me and say, “Hey, I’ve been training conventionally and I got to a plateau.” 

And I ask them, “Well, how’s your intensity?” And they’ll say, and their whole workout will probably last another hour and a half. And here’s the problem, you cannot expect to not hit a plateau if you’re training for so long, because if you’re training for a long period of time, it means not intensely.

If you are able to train for a long period of time you aren't anywhere near the maximum intensity needed for your workout

If you’re really going all out and giving every single set everything you have with complete focus and concentration, those workouts would never last that long. And the 10 to 15 minutes I recommend for most plateaus of working out will start because that’s really as long as you can last if you’re truly going 110% all out. 

A high intensity workout should only last 10-15 minutes give or take 5 minutes total
How More Recovery Time Helps Avoid Plateaus
Adequate recovery time is key for muscle growth with high intensity training

The third important principle to making sure you don’t get to a place of plateau as a natural athlete is making sure you have adequate rest time between your workouts. But in my experience, we train with that intensity and without much variety, you can only go three days a week optimally in terms of results. 

High Intensity workouts 3 days a week allows for optimal rest time and training splits

Anything more, you start seeing less results. 

It is a very important concept of making sure you always have six to seven days between muscle groups. 

So for example, if you train legs on Monday, you don’t train legs again until the next Monday.

Overtraining can lead to many medical issues as well as training plateaus

If you’re natural, you only have that much recovery ability. And you need to remember that muscles don’t grow while you’re working out. They grow while you rest, which is why it’s important to train three days and rest four days. 

Anything less than that is going to get you to a place of plateau because you’re going to overtrain. 

Overtraining can also lessen overall body fat loss

So you’re resting, growing, longer than you are training. It just makes sense. 

And again, it’s something I have proven with hundreds of men and women over a very long period of time, seeing what works and what doesn’t work. 

Because of its high energy expenditure having a higher muscle mass makes it easier to stay lean

It’s not just about what works for me. And those who would do against my advice four days a week, five days a week, six days a week compared to those training three days a week, never saw the same degree of progress in terms of increasing muscle mass, increasing strength, and surprisingly enough, in terms of losing weight and body fat.

And the fifth principle to preventing ever having a plateau is also making sure your diet is on point.

Proper diet is key to avoiding plateaus

If you’re ingesting alcohol on a regular basis and not getting the nutrition you need from a diet that’s a hundred percent unprocessed foods, it is going to affect your progress. 

As very often a lot of people talk about being in a place of plateau, it isn’t so much a matter of plateau, it’s a matter of they’re not eating that well to begin with. 

They start training a certain way, they got an initial set of gains. They’d keep on getting gains if they were eating better, but they’re not. 

A consistent diet of unprocessed foods helps in avoiding plateaus

And sometimes by cleaning up your diet, it can make all the difference in the world. 

Now, there’s one last very important aspect when it comes to overcoming a plateau as a natural athlete. And the fact is it’s going to take time. And very often you may think you’re experiencing a plateau and you’re not.

What’s happening is it’s taking time. 

Progress as a natural athlete takes much longer than any enhanced athlete

Like I said, it took me 11 years to get from being 125 pounds to being in a place where I could really say I looked like a natural bodybuilder. And during that period of time, I tracked meticulously everything I did, everything I ate, every weight I lifted, every workout that I did as well. 

And the progress, like I said, was very slow. And I could only really see it if I compared it over time. 

Sometimes what natural athletes perceive as a plateau is just the slow place it takes to make gains naturally

If I looked at my notes and saw where I was today compared to where I was a year ago, I’d see some small progress, but it was very difficult to see because we all want everything to happen ASAP, especially when we are bombarded by an enhanced world where most people who are using steroids will literally go from an average person to a cartoon character in a very short period of time. 

Muscle growth takes time as a natural athlete

It’s really hard to see that happening in front of your eyes and not think there’s something wrong with your progress.

And part of being a natural athlete if you’re doing everything right means that you know it’s going to take time and you trust the process. 

As a natural athlete you must take your time and trust in the process

But most importantly, you trust yourself and you stay the path and not put for anything outside of yourself to make things happen faster. 

There is no magic pill that will give you faster results safely and without side effects

A lot of people will be so much bigger and so much stronger and so much closer to their potential if they just spent more time believing in themselves. 

As hard as it can be to keep on going without seeing that much in terms of return, even the smallest of returns means you’re going forward and just keep on going forward. 

Always believe in yourself and trust the process!

There wasn’t anyone there to tell me this when I started off as a natural athlete. And so I’m telling you. So stay the path. Know that I believe in you, and as always, Excelsior!

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Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, Kevin Richardson’s Naturally Intense High Intensity Training have helped hundreds lose weight and transform their bodies with his 10 Minute Workouts. One of the top natural bodybuilders of his time, Kevin is also the international fitness consultant for UNICEF and one of the top personal trainers in New York City.

Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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