Though Frustrating, Fitness Plateaus Can Be Overcome
We have all been there before. We are constantly in the gym, eating right, and lifting weights, crushing your healthy lifestyle. However, as time passes, you notice that you aren’t making the gains like you used to. The pace at which you lose weight has slowed down or halted completely. In some instances, you may feel like you’ve regressed, gaining a little weight or struggling to lift your maxes. Fortunately, there is nothing to worry about. You’ve just hit a fitness plateau.
While we do agree that these plateaus can be demoralizing, they are essentially just your body’s way of telling you that you’ve made progress. Fitness plateaus can be frustrating, but you need to know that they are not permanent and can be easily overcome. Fitness Nation is here to help you get past your fitness plateau and reach new heights.
What is a Fitness Plateau?
A fitness plateau happens when the progress you have been making, such as losing weight, toning up, or getting stronger, has stalled or halted even though you continue to live a healthy and clean lifestyle. The good news is everyone experiences them. It’s completely normal.
You can’t continue to make the same progress at the same pace. Your body doesn’t work like that. When you first begin your fitness journey, you have more weight to lose and more strength to gain. However, as you progress, there is less for your body to do, so you naturally come to a halt.
We recommend looking at these plateaus as a good thing. They are a sign that you’ve progressed so much that it’s time to try something new. To continue to see improvement and to break through your plateau, you must make changes to your fitness routine. Fitness Nation is here to provide you with some helpful tips to get out of your fitness plateau and continue on your fitness journey.
NOTE: You should try each other of these on their own. Everyone’s body is different, so it will respond differently. Cycle through these tips to see which works for you.
Increase Your Workout Intensity
Your body is constantly adapting. That is one of the reasons why you lose weight, build muscle, and get stronger. The workouts you do force your body to adapt to the pressure being put on it. However, this can come back to bite you in the end.
An easy way to break out of a plateau is to force your body to work harder, not longer. Increase the weight and lower the number of reps to shock your body.
Instead of doing sets with 10 to 12 reps of lighter weight, reduce that to 6 to 8 reps of higher weight. You want to make sure that you are still using a weight that doesn’t undermine your form. You should be able to have proper form for the majority of the reps but then struggle on the last reps. This is a great indication that the weight is perfect. With heavier weight, make sure you still use proper form and are breathing correctly to ensure optimum performance.
Change Up Your Routine
As we mentioned earlier, your body adapts to the work and stress it encounters daily. If you do the same thing over and over, your body learns how to do it in a more efficient capacity, doing less to complete the action.
Give your body something new to do. Force it to learn how to adapt to new movements and exercises. The University of Tampa conducted a study over a 12-week course, which found that varied exercises were much more effective at building muscle than doing the same routine. The researchers noted an increase in the size of individuals quadriceps by as much as 12.2%, while consistent workouts only saw a 9.3% increase.
If your workouts consist of machines, switch to free weights. If you jog on a treadmill, consider doing a HIIT exercise. Try to find new exercises and movements to force your body to do something new.
Lighten the Load
While we mentioned that increasing the intensity of your workouts may help break your fitness plateau, the opposite can also be true. This doesn’t mean you have to lift light weight every day, but it can help.
You can train hard and heavy for three weeks then, on the fourth week, workout with light loads. Increase the number of reps and decrease the weight to about 50 to 60% of what you’re used to doing.
Capillaries are small blood vessels in your body that are in charge of delivery oxygen, amino acids, and hormones to your muscles, helping them recover. This recovery is also what leads them to grow and strengthen. Unfortunately, research has shown that heavy weightlifting decreases capillary density. Lowering the weight and increasing the repetition will increase the number of capillaries working in your muscles, boosting their growth and recovery.
Get More Rest
By now, most of you are aware of how important getting adequate rest is for your health and mental health. When you sleep, you allow your body to rest and recover. Your body releases growth hormones during REM sleep, which helps your muscles recover and grow and also improves your fat burning.
Unfortunately, if you work out too hard, your body will become exhausted and plateau. Your body needs rest to help you reach your fitness goals. Without it, you will not see the progress you want.
Don’t worry about missing workouts. Overtraining can make you lose any progress you have made. It puts too much stress on your body without giving it time to recover. Take some time to rest and recharge. This gives your body the rest and recovery it needs to break through a plateau.
Take a Look at Your Diet
If you don’t give your body the proper nutrients it requires, your muscles will not be able to grow, nor will you have the fuel to adequately power your workouts. Without the right level of carbohydrates, protein, fats, and nutrients, your training efforts will go to waste.
Having a low-calorie intake can also harm you as well. Your metabolism will slow down, making it more difficult to burn fat. Add at least one high-carb cheat meal a week. While this seems counterproductive, it’s really helpful. It restarts your metabolism, keeping your metabolism active constantly.
Hitting a fitness plateau can be incredibly frustrating for many people. You go from seeing tremendous results to seeing no changes or even regression. However, it’s important to know that plateaus are normal and aren’t too difficult to overcome. If you are struggling with a fitness plateau, contact the personal trainers at Fitness Nation and allow us to help you.