Author: Holly J Coley
Finding a workout you can stick with is hard. Finding one that keeps you seeing results, even harder. For anyone who knows the painful sting of seeing their progress slow, this is for you. I’m going to teach you how to beat the dreaded plateau.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a fitness plateau is what happens when your body stops responding to your exercise routine even though you’re doing all the “right things,” like eating right, working out consistently, getting enough rest and so on. In some cases, our plateaus are not really plateaus at all but us becoming lax in one of the aforementioned areas without our knowledge. Too many cheats meals or sloppy form can make a huge different when it comes to fitness gains. However, if you’re certain that is not the case with you, keep reading.
The more we repeat a task the more we can do it with ease. This is true with a lot of things, particularly working out- hence the term “muscle memory”. It all starts in the brain, which tells muscle fibers to move whenever you’re performing a task. In turn, fibers, tendons, everything really, speaks back to the central nervous system which- you guessed it– gives more instructions on how to react next. Think of it like the daily convo you have with your barista. The first day you go into Bucks and order he/she probably pays really close attention to everything you say. But the more you return the more efficient they are about giving you what you want. Before you know it they just need to see you standing outside the door to know you’re going to ask for a grande soy latte with a shot of sugar free vanilla syrup.
When it comes to coffee orders memory is good, but it can cause us to plateau when it comes to making fitness gains. The more you repeat a certain action, whether it be pushups or running, the more efficient your body gets at doing it. That’s awesome, but it also means you’ll probably exert less energy as time passes. The less energy you exert the less results you see.
Being active is good and will certainly help your heart and overall well being. But if you want to keep seeing results ( getting stronger, faster, slimmer) you’re going to have to keep challenging yourself. But you know this. You want to know how to break through while still doing the activities you like. It’s easier than you think.
Take Rest Days
It sounds counterproductive but your body does need rest days in order to replenish itself and for results to continue.
Switch Speeds + Intensity
The key to breaking a plateau is to trick your body into thinking you’re doing something different. If you always cycle on a flat terrain, supplement it by biking hillier areas a few times a week. If you’re a sprinter, switch it up by running at a slower pace but for a longer duration. If you lift light, switch to heavier weights for a shorter set. Even if you find yourself drawn to the same classes or machines, avoiding doing the same routine everyday. This way your body will not have a chance to become use to it.
Check Your Diet
We’re told to eat less, move more. But that isn’t wholly accurate. Your body can’t produce results with no fuel so make sure you check your diet to ensure you’re eating enough. If you’re not getting enough nutrients it may think you’re in starvation mode and slow down your metabolism which results in no results.
Try Something New
Now I know I said you could keep doing the same exercises but hear me out. Switching up the type of workout you do for one session will not hurt you. It actually may help by engaging new muscles, allowing others to take a break, and bring some novelty into your training. New often means exciting to the human brain and we’re more likely to attack a new workout with gusto if its more engaging. To check out new classes in the area, visit our directory listing.
How do you beat fitness plateaus?