3 Reasons You Have Reached a Plateau (and how to overcome)
People workout for a multitude of reasons:
To lose bodyfat
To gain lean muscle
To improve performance in a sport or activity
To increase bone density
To stay active
But within the meany reasons, one thing I hear often is frustration.
Frustration with little to no bodyfat loss despite working out daily
Frustration with little to no progression in strength despite working out daily
Frustration with little to no speed/endurance progression despite running daily
If you aren't seeing desired results in your workouts, maybe it's time to take a look at what you are doing that is causing you to stay stagnant and not progress (and a workout without progression? What's the fun in that?!)
1. You are doing the same workouts over and over again
Do any of these sound like you?
You go to the gym and get on the same elliptical day in and day out for the same duration and intensity
You go on a run on the same route at the same speed day in and day out
You go to the gym and lift the same bodybuilding-style lifts, splitting the same body parts each week and performing the same exercises over and over
Kudos to you for getting your workout in - BUT - your daily habit may be counter productive.
Our bodies adapt to exercise the same way they do to an antibiotic: after prolonged use, the antibiotic is no longer effective.
Scientifically speaking, this adaptation is likened to General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) in which the body adapts to 'stressors (ie: workouts) in 3 stages:
Alarm Reaction - where the body begins to respond immediately to a new workout/stressor (thus why someone who is just starting out a new workout program has a lot of initial success)
Stage of Resistance - the stage where the body begins to adapt to the stressors but over a slower period of time. The adaptation is not recognizable at first and the body may still be getting results - albeit slower than the beginning.
Stage of exhaustion - the body stops reacting to the stessor and plateau's completely. (This is where a lot of overtraining can occur as athletes and fitness-devoted individuals seek to push their bodies to give them results that aren't happening.)
How can you overcome these frustrating plateau's? Variation!
Instead of doing the same thing over and over, change up by:
Changing the time of day you workout
Early morning workout-fan? Try a few days a week of after-work sweat sessions
** BONUS: More sleep in the AM which is crucial for health!
Changing the sets and reps of your workout
instead of 4 sets of 10 try 6 sets of 5 or 3 sets of 15-20
Changing the style of workouts daily
Try an agility workout Monday, Heavy lift session Tuesday, crossfit-style Wednesday, Power Thursday and Saturday outdoor bootcamp style. Keep your body guessing!
Change the style of your workout all together!
Been bodybuilding style training for years? Go all in at crossfit for a few months, try some outdoor adventure style workouts or get in to more power style lifting
Change up the frequency of your workouts
Accustomed to doing 6x a week of 1.5 hour lift sessions? Try 3-4 days a week of higher-intensity, shorter duration workouts
Change the intensity:
Body adapted to the same run over and over? Throw in some high-intensity track days to help improve speed and power. Try some hill days to improve endurance and strength! Run for time and for leisure at various miles.
Bottom line? Change it UP!
2. You are losing motivation
Well of course you are! Doing the same workouts over and over everyday is boring and would cause anyone to lose motivation!
Aside from the above recommendations, the absolute BEST way to re-gain motivation in your workouts is to find something you LOVE that you look forward to!
Try a new style of workout
Been curious about Soul Cycle or Crossfit - jump in and give it a shot! You may find you love the new atmosphere and change!
Do what makes you feel good!
Love being outdoors but are still inside doing the step mill that you hate? Then GET OUTSIDE! Find fun hikes and outdoor parks where you can get a great workout in that brings you joy instead of misery!
Go with friends!
Some people love working out alone and some love to be in a group setting. Try both and see what gets you more motivated!
Bottom line? Change it UP!
3. You aren't Eating Enough
Our bodies are highly intelligent. They use food for fuel. If you aren't eating enough food - your body will start to break down lean muscle tissue to preserve energy stores. What happens next?
Just as my post on reverse dieting mentions(i.e. adding more calories), the longer we spend in caloric deficits ('diet'), the slower the metabolism becomes.
If you have been in 'dieting-mode' for long periods of time and are hitting a plateau - consider adding more calories to 'add fuel to the fire'.
To keep metabolism running efficiently to burn body fat AND fuel your performance:
Increase caloric intake slowly over time to find your body's caloric needs intuitively
Calculate your body's caloric needs by using an equation
Calculate your body's needs by using an online calculator
Work with a coach to assist you with all of the above and help you toward your goals
Try online systems like Avatar Nutrition to ensure you are reaching your caloric goals
Bottom line? EAT MORE FOOD to break through your dieting/exercise plateau!
Plateau's are never easy. We work SO hard towards our goals that experiencing stalled results can be aggravating.
Just as life changes are a challenge that we overcome and experience personal growth; fitness/nutrition changes can also challenge your body so you can experience growth in your fitness goals as well!
So keep it varied, keep it fun and make sure to FUEL!