Are you bored of your workout routine? Do you have to talk yourself into hitting the gym, track or fitness class? Just aren’t seeing the results you want anymore? It’s possible you’ve hit a plateau, which can be a real downer when it comes to trying to stay fit.
But what is a fitness or weight-loss plateau? A plateau is a time when you no longer see progress in your workouts and results. For instance, maybe you can’t lift heavier or you haven’t gained muscle in a while, or you stopped losing the excess that was coming off great a couple weeks ago.
Basically, a plateau is caused by our body becoming comfortable with the stresses we are placing on it through our workouts or with the type and amount of food we eat. At a very basic level, we reach a plateau from doing the same things day after day. Your body is no longer feeling challenged and has stopped responding as you want.
So, how do you bust through a plateau?
Luckily, there are a few choices you can make to address a plateau. The first choice is simple: change nothing – not your workouts or your nutrition – and be happy with the progress you made to this point. That’s a perfectly acceptable choice and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to stay where you are.
But, if you really want to push through the plateau and continue making changes to your body, we suggest incorporating small changes, one at a time. Allow a reasonable period between tweaks to see whether your body will respond before implementing another change. Otherwise, how do you know what worked or what had no effect at all?
For instance, let’s say you have been following the same workout plan for the past three months and consuming basically the same foods for the same period. Over the three months, you gained a nice amount of muscle in the right areas and you lost a few inches and pounds. But now, what the hell? You can’t seem to lift any heavier and you certainly aren’t seeing any more changes.
Here are 3 ways to bust through your toning or weight-loss plateau.
- Stop doing the same workout routine! If you are the local elliptical queen or king, start lifting weights (which you should have been doing all along, anyway). Are you still doing shoulder presses with the same 8 lbs for 10 reps and 3 sets for 5 weeks running? Well, it’s time to pick up some heavier weights and start drop-setting.
- Tantalize your taste bud. Are you primarily eating veggies in your goal to lose weight (while sabotaging your ability to add some muscle)? It’s time to shake it up – your muscles NEED protein, carbohydrates, good fats and water in order to get stronger and build enough to add some tone. This means, rework your nutrition to include all of the macro nutrients in appropriate portions based on your activity level.
- Take a rest week. This especially applies to those of you who workout 5-6 days a week, with rarely a break. Your muscles need a rest in order to recover and rebuild. If you are continually breaking them down through your workouts, when, if you rarely rest, are they supposed to repair and rebuild themselves?
Here’s a quick recap of some very simple ways to help you break through your plateau:
- Do not change everything all at once. Make small changes in your workouts and nutrition.
- Do not change variables on a weekly basis. Make a small change and then give your body some time to adjust and react. If you change things every week, how will you know if you are progressing? You need to create a reference point and then use progression techniques again on your new exercise variables.
Nicole P & Lara R – 2GFitness