I have had this problem many times throughout my weightlifting career. Sometimes its just simply being burnt out, sometimes it could be due to much more. So let's take a look at all the things that must be in place with you before you start thinking about the next ultimate supplement stack or the next best workout routine.
When I am burnt out it's pretty easy to put my finger on it. I just became bored with everything that has to do with bodybuilding. I get tired of eating, tired of supplementing, tired of training, I get just plain tired of bodybuilding. I feel that I just need some time from the everyday ritual of preparing my meals, eating, supplementing and training all on a timetable. For me to get through this it's best for me to take a step back and essentially quit bodybuilding for one week.
During this week off I will cut my meals back to 3-to-4 daily, I will not use any supplements or even think about training. I steer clear of anything that has to do with bodybuilding, magazines, movies and message boards. I separate myself totally from the sport. Then after being off a week I am totally refreshed and ready to hit it hard again. Everyone will go through this at some point or another and I recommend that you don't try to force through these burn out days, just take a few days off and you will be set to start some new progress.
Sometimes it's much more than just being burnt out. When you stop seeing gains really sit down and analyze your own self. Take into account every possible aspect of your life. I have broken them down into these categories: diet, personal problems, sleep, illness and over training.
Nine times out of ten this is the number one problem for not seeing the results you are looking for. I see this all the time. Too many people are out for the best supplement that will pack on the mass but with the sorry diet they are on not even steroids would help them. A good diet is the most important thing you will do as a bodybuilder, fitness model, and weight trainer or power lifter. So when you sit down and look at your diet look at the foods you are consuming. Now what types of food you are consuming depends on your goal.
One glaring thing that I always see is just lack of enough food consumed through out the day. I recommend eating every 3 hours whether you are bulking or dieting down. Of course when bulking you will be consuming for calories and dieting would be the opposite. If you are trying to add size and you are only eating 4 meals per day then you have just located your problem. So before you do anything always look at your diet, period.
Something that I feel I need to touch on briefly is alcohol consumption. Now I am not saying you shouldn't go out and party but if you are doing just a little too much partying it will hinder your progress. Now a beer or six on a weekend here and there will be ok but if you are doing it 2-4 times per week you are really limiting yourself. My old workout partner would start partying on Thursday night and wouldn't stop until Sunday. I kept telling him and telling him that if he wants to make the gains he was wanting he needed to stop all of that. Finally he did and after a few weeks he had made more progress in that time than he had in a whole year. So if you are serious about making some progress just limit the drinking to a minimum.
If you are having personal problems you know too well how these can completely drain your metal focus when trying to train. If you are having personal problems with yourself, a loved one or a friend, having problems at work, the list can go on and on, I suggest that you solve these problems immediately if they are distracting your training efforts.
In order to get the most out of your workout you must have complete focus. This is not really a problem for me, when I step into the gym for that hour or so a day I am in Todd's world and nothing outside of it has any effect on me what so ever. I know not everyone can separate them selves like this so that's why I think you must solve these personal issues and solve them as fast as possible so that your workout won't suffer.
Over the past few weeks I have had some issues my self that had to be delt with. My wife is pregnant and is on complete bed rest for at least 8 weeks. This has made it a little more difficult for me especially in the sleeping and training department but I just do what I have to do. Some people think that I am insane for getting up every day at 4:30 a.m. and training but if that's what I have to do right now then so be it. I encountered a problem re-adjusted my training and bam, no more problem. Just learn to deal with personal issues and learn to make them a non-issue so that it won't affect your training.
Hopefully this will never happen to you but on occasion I have seen and heard of it happening. I knew a guy once who had made some really great gains but after a few months he became tired and worn-down feeling. He had no energy and the gains all but stopped and after a while he started loosing lean muscle mass.
Finally he went to the doctor and he learned that he had developed some sort of intestinal problem, they treated it with medicine and everything eventually got back to normal. So if you have your diet in order, your training in line and no outside problems but you just don't feel 100% don't put it off, go see a doctor because there may be something serious there or maybe something simple.
One thing that I see as a common occurrence it people training while sick. Look, it's hard enough for the body to recoup from training itself but then you throw in something like a sinus infection or even a common cold it makes it even harder for the body to recoup, and also fight off sickness. So if you get sick just take the time off until you are well again. I have seen a guy who just had a cold, keep a cold for a month because he wouldn't stop training, that's just stupid.
Now I don't really believe that you can over train if you are consuming enough food and nutrients. But there are those who will train like a madman doing endless sets but at the same time only feeding their body 2-3 meals per day and wonder why they are not growing. I have seen it happen all the time but these fools still don't get it. It all comes down to eating, if you train intense you must eat enough food to grow if not you will become over trained, so in a way this will fall under the proper diet category too.
I hope that this article will help some of you out. May be it sounds like a lot of rambling but I just can't express how important it is to just analyze yourself before you go out and spend a ton of money on the latest and greatest supplements. They will do you no good if all of the above topics aren't in-line. It will be a huge waste of money and a waste of your time.
So if you are in a rut and haven't had any noticeable gains in some time then just take a step back and look at yourself, your life and I think you will find some area that you will need to change or adjust and the new growth will come.