The plateau in muscle growth with resistance training: an exploration of possible mechanisms

Ryo Kataoka, William B. Hammert, Yujiro Yamada, Jun Seob Song, Aldo Seffrin, Anna Kang, Robert W. Spitz, Vickie Wong, Jeremy P. Loenneke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is hypothesized that there is likely a finite ability for muscular adaptation. While it is difficult to distinguish between a true plateau following a long-term training period and short-term stalling in muscle growth, a plateau in muscle growth has been attributed to reaching a genetic potential, with limited discussion on what might physiologically contribute to this muscle growth plateau. The present paper explores potential physiological factors that may drive the decline in muscle growth after prolonged resistance training. Overall, with chronic training, the anabolic signaling pathways may become more refractory to loading. While measures of anabolic markers may have some predictive capabilities regarding muscle growth adaptation, they do not always demonstrate a clear connection. Catabolic processes may also constrain the ability to achieve further muscle growth, which is influenced by energy balance. Although speculative, muscle cells may also possess cell scaling mechanisms that sense and regulate their own size, along with molecular brakes that hinder growth rate over time. When considering muscle growth over the lifespan, there comes a point when the anabolic response is attenuated by aging, regardless of whether or not individuals approach their muscle growth potential. Our goal is that the current review opens avenues for future experimental studies to further elucidate potential mechanisms to explain why muscle growth may plateau.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-48
Number of pages18
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

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