So you’ve been exercising every day for the past week but are beginning to feel as if your workout sessions are no longer working and you’ve maxed out on your fitness potential. Don’t give up hope just yet, seems as though you’ve simply run into a fitness plateau. Plateaus can leave you feeling frustrating and on the verge of giving up, but they are no reason to throw all your hard work down the drain.
First off I want to start off by congratulating you for all your progress thus far, but don’t think this is the end. Plateaus can easily be overcome by simply tweaking a few of your current habits. Here are a few simple suggestions to help break your fitness plateau and get back on track to your fitness goals:
Incorporate Strength Training
If you are already not incorporating any strength training into your workout regimen, now is the time to do so. According to an article from Discovery Health titled 15 Tips for Breaking Through a Plateau cutting back on your calories will cause you to lose weight, yet if done too severely it can cause you to lose lean muscle as well. Losing this lean muscle tissue is going to depress your metabolism since you burn more calories through muscle than you do from fat. So by building muscle tissue through strength training we can reverse that process and raise our metabolism to help us burn more calories, even when we are not currently working out.
Up Your Intensity
Are you exercising at the same intensity as when you first started? Doing the same number of reps when you first began your fitness journey? Well this may be your problem. Your body learns to adapt to the strain you place on it when you workout as to it become stronger and better to handle this stress the next time it is place, i.e. you repeat the same workout.
So by doing the same workout at the same intensity day in and day out for weeks upon a time you are sure to reach this fitness plateau and stop burning the same calories you once did. According to the previously mentioned Discovery Health article, “your body becomes really efficient at adjusting to the amount of physical activity you’re doing, so you regularly have to adjust either the intensity of your workouts or the frequency in order to continue to reap the maximum benefit from physical activity.”
Since finding the time to fit it your workout session can get hard enough, increasing the length of them is often not possible. So instead increasing the intensity of your workouts seems like the more logical action. Try adding HIIT to your cardio workouts like this 20-minute HIIT Treadmill Workout or Men’s Health suggests lifting your weights faster to recruit more muscle fibers and help improve your strength quickly, which you can read more about here.
Switch up Your Routine
Once again your body is made to adapt. As we’ve mentioned in a previous post about switching up your routine, “when you habitually use the same muscles for the same routines day in and day out you are eventually going to see a plateau in your physical development. This doesn’t mean you are going to get fat or your heart is going to become weak, it just means you are not actually developing any new muscle mass, nor continuing to increase any muscle mass. “
Start off by adding strength training into your fitness regimen as we mentioned above. You can also switch off your cardio workouts from running and circuit workouts that get your heart rate up. Try this Circuit Training Workout from Fitness Magazine to crank up your fat burning furnace and break you from your plateau.
Time Some Time Off
I know this may seem a little counter-intuitive, as we did just say you should crank up the intensity, but giving your body some rest away from your grueling workouts may just be exactly what your body needs. According to an article 4 Tips to Bust Through Your Plateau, “your body actually adapts to training between sessions, not during.” Your body needs time to recover between your workout sessions, so make sure you are giving yourself ample time to recover or you can easily suffer from overtraining, which will cause “diminishing returns for your results.” Start by taking just a couple days off till your mind and body are more fresh and strong.
Eat Right & Sleep Tight
Your fitness plateau may be caused by things other than your fitness regimen, such as your eating habits and sleep schedule. Be sure to take a look at your diet as it may be a direct determinant of how well you perform. Be sure you are eating an abundance of complete protein, fresh produce and healthy fats in order to properly recover. Eating meals/snacks with complex carbs and protein before and after your workouts will help give you the energy to power through your workouts and well as replenish your muscles glycogen stores afterwards. Check out this article What You Should Eat Before and After Your Workouts for a few tips and ideas.
Also be sure you are getting antiquate sleep to allow your body enough energy to power through that intense workout. According to this article from Discovery Fit & Health, University of Chicago “found that failure to get the recommended seven to nine hours of quality sleep nightly can put one at risk for obesity even if they are eating healthily and exercising consistently!” So be sure to get your recommended 7 to 9 every night.
Have you or anyone you know ever experienced a fitness plateau?
What are some tricks you or they used to bust through those dreaded plateaus and get back on track?