Training Plateauing and Muscle Stagnation Don’t Exist and Science Backs This Up


Training Plateauing and Muscle Stagnation Don’t Exist and Science Backs This Up

Training Plateauing and Muscle Stagnation Don't Exist
Training Plateauing and Muscle Stagnation Don’t Exist – image via

There’s nothing that stops people from going to the gym faster than knowing that there’s such a thing as training plateauing and muscle stagnation. These and the actual effort, of course. What made things even worse, there were some studies made before, showing that there were some unfortunate people out there for who exercise didn’t seem to work.

Even though they worked out as much as others, doing the same exercises for the same amount of time and at the same intensity, they didn’t have anything to show for it. While on the other hand, their counterparts were building muscle, losing weight and so forth.

Fortunately, however, this theory and studies have been disproven by science. As it turns out, these “non-responders”, how they are called by the scientific community, can as easily become fitter by doing a set of different exercises.

One new study on training plateauing and muscle stagnation was conducted by the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich and was published in the Journal of Physiology. It took 78 healthy volunteering adults and divided them into five groups. Each group was given a task of one, two, three, four, or five 60-minute workouts per week for a duration of six weeks.

“One in five adults following physical activity guidelines are reported not demonstrating any improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Herein, we sought to establish whether CRF non-response to exercise training is dose-dependent, using a between- and within-subject study design,” said the researchers.

To further analyse the situation, the researchers then raised the hour-long workout of those with one session per week to three sessions per week. Similarly, those who experienced no improvement and were already doing 3 hours of workout per week were pushed up to five times. This way everyone of the 78 participants was experiencing improvements.

Another study, this time made by a group of researchers from Canada, and which was published in the journal PLoS One also studied the training plateauing and muscle stagnation hypothesis. The Canadians worked with 21 volunteers by engaging them in two different types of physical exercises. Each of the programs lasted for a period of three weeks after which there was a pause of a couple of months in order to return back to their original physical state and start with the other training program.


Overall, the participants had a visible improvement in both kinds of exercises which were either a sort of endurance training or a high-intensity interval training. But while the group did well, the results for each individual varied a lot. For instance, a third of all participants didn’t show much, if any, improvement in one of the exercises, but were remarkably better at the other.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise,” says Brendon Gurd, an associate professor of kinesiology at Queen’s University who oversaw the study. “But it does seem as if there is some size that fits everyone.”

There are a few things we can draw from these studies. Firstly, there are no such things as training plateauing and muscle stagnation. Non-responders, as they are called, need either to up their game by exercising more, or shift to another style of exercise altogether. This extra exercise doesn’t even need to be done all at once in the gym either. A change in everyday habits works equally as well. For instance, walking or riding your bike to work instead of taking your car there can do the trick. Sitting on a yoga ball at your desk can also help to a degree. To note that you might need to make some adjustments to your desk for the ball to be effective and not have any negative effects on your body.

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