Have you ever seen someone advertise a 12 week muscle building program? I have no issue with these programs as long as trainers are honest about them. I love that it can help a person get started toward building lean muscle. But I dislike it when they make it seem like you are going to reach muscle building destination at the end of the 12 weeks.
You are never done!
If a trainer has told you that you can no longer gain muscle or that you can't make any more positive changes to your physique then they are misleading you. You can not max out your genetic potential.
Don’t get me wrong. There are upper limits to how much muscle you can build. There also limits to muscular strength and aerobic endurance. But I am sure you probably will never reach them. This phenomenon is known as the "genetic ceiling." How do you know if you’ve reached your genetic ceiling?
You don't. In fact, you can’t and never will.
How do you know when it is time to change things up?
You can gather enough data to tell if your training regimen is producing positive changes in your physique. This means that you need to keep notes on your workouts if you don't have a trainer doing it for you. Take measurements, write down your sets and reps so you can see if you are getting stronger over time. If you're not growing from your present routine then you could change a few variables and possibly see results. The number of possible ways to vary program design is virtually unlimited. Unless you try each and every alternative, there’s no way to know if another approach might be the ticket to further gains.
You have to put a lid on some of the false information you come across because most of it has an angle. They are trying to sell a supplement, a product, or some high dollar personal training fees.
Understand that the reason your muscles adapt to an exercise stimulus is a function of survival. Let me repeat that. Your muscles adapt because it is trying to maintain balance. Your body doesn’t realize the reason you hit the gym is to look jacked in a tank-top. That is a ridiculous thing to think. It senses a high degree of physical stress that it believes is a threat to survival. The response that your body takes is to coordinate a series of intracellular events to strengthen the muscles and supporting tissues so that they are better prepared the next time you lift. It could care less what you look like in a V-Neck T-shirt or bathing suit.
You stop making gains or I guess some people call it a plateau because the more you continue to provide similar stimuli, the less of a need for future adaptation. Further growth can only occur by subjecting your muscles to a different stimulus. This is why I love training. Because it forces you to find the comfort in the uncomfortable.
A “ceiling” may exist in theory. But you never actually realize your full genetic potential. There is always the ability to further increase muscle mass. Muscular gains can be made even at the most advanced levels. It will just be at a slower pace than when you first started training.
Now the closer you get to your individual ceiling, the more essential it is to take a scientific approach to training and nutrition. From a training standpoint, this entails precise manipulation of resistance exercise variables. You may have to change how you load the muscle, and the types of loads you use in given rep ranges. I've covered this in depth in a previous blog post.
Truth is, you’re only limited by your determination and base of knowledge.
If someone tells you that you’re done adding muscle, pay them no attention. It’s a self-limiting attitude that will keep you from achieving your full genetic potential.