How To Break Through A Workout Plateau
Are you stuck in a fitness rut? Do you feel like you’ve stopped making progress? These workout tips can help you to get your groove back when you’ve reached a fitness plateau.
If you feel like you have hit a roadblock on your fitness journey, don’t despair — this happens to most people! Once you understand how your body adapts to training, you can make the changes to break through the plateau, continue making progress and start enjoying exercise again.
What is a workout plateau?
A workout plateau occurs when your body adjusts to the demands of your workouts. During a workout plateau, you may start to feel unmotivated, bored with your workouts, or find that you don’t feel like going to the gym. This is a sign that you may be ready to try a new training style.
Learn more: Which Training Style Is Right For You?
To keep seeing results, you need to progressively overload the body to keep it changing, adapting and getting stronger!
Just because your workouts are getting easier doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve hit a plateau, although it can feel that way.
When you start any new form of training, it can take around six to eight weeks for the brain and body to learn to complete new exercises efficiently. Once these neural connections have adapted, the workouts should feel easier. This isn’t a workout plateau, as you can continue to build muscular strength and endurance.
Why does fitness plateau?
When you first start working out, you usually feel results straight away, especially if you weren’t previously active. However, as time passes and your body adjusts to exercising you may notice the results become less obvious.
People don’t always know how to change their current training style or increase the intensity to keep getting noticeable results. It’s easy to become comfortable with a particular routine once you get an exercise habit in place.
The body is incredibly resilient, and this means that it adapts to the physical demands of training. As your body adapts, exercises that were once challenging become easier. This is why you can hit a fitness plateau even when you are doing everything right!
Another common cause of a plateau is overtraining. Getting proper rest and recovery is just as important for your fitness progress as hitting all of your workouts.
Signs that you are overtraining include muscle and joint pain, fatigue or low energy levels. You may find that you get sick more easily. These symptoms are unsurprisingly often described as a fitness hangover.
It’s also important to pay attention to what you do between your workouts. You can stop making progress if you don’t get enough rest, drink enough water or eat healthy food to support your training.
What should I do when I hit a plateau?
What you do when you reach a workout plateau will depend on what your goals are.
For some, a plateau isn’t a problem. If you are happy with your current level of fitness, keep going with your current exercise routine to maintain fitness!
However, if you are frustrated with a lack of progress, don’t despair. There are actions you can take to overcome this fitness plateau.
How to overcome a workout plateau
Use these tips to gain momentum when you feel stuck on your fitness journey.
Make small changes to your routine
Small changes to your workouts can help prevent a plateau. When you increase the weight, sets, reps, intensity, number of sessions completed each week, the amount of rest taken between sets or use variations of your exercises you encourage a “training response” to occur.
Making small changes regularly encourages your body to continue building strength using the same exercises.
Some examples of fitness progression include:
- Increase number of reps of an exercise — if you were doing 10 pushups, increase to 12 pushups
- Increasing the weight used in small increments
- Increasing the number of exercises completed in a given timeframe
Track your fitness progress
You can’t be sure you’ve hit a plateau unless you are tracking your progress. There are many ways to do this, and we recommend using more than one method.
Here are some ways to track fitness:
- Record your workouts — including the number of reps and weights used — in a journal,
- Use a fitness tracker
- Take progress photos
- Take a timed fitness challenge every 4-12 weeks
Tracking your fitness can help you identify whether you are in a plateau, and what you can change to overcome it.
If you are using just one tracking method, you may feel like you’ve hit a plateau. Using more than one can help you see that you are still making progress in other areas!
For example, muscle weighs more than fat, and your weight can fluctuate dramatically over a day or a week due to factors such as variances with water and food intake plus even where you’re at in your menstrual cycle. This means that weight loss is not a reliable indicator of fitness improvement. Instead, consider whether you are able to lift heavier or do more reps of an exercise than you could before!
Add strength training
Resistance training, or strength training, improves strength, endurance and size of skeletal muscles while protecting your joints from injury during other activities.
Muscle burns more energy than fat, so building lean muscle can help boost your metabolic rate. Resistance training also helps with cardiovascular health, particularly if you combine the best of cardio and weights with High Intensity Resistance Training.
Strength training can help you to achieve other goals such as running faster, building lean muscle and feeling confident in your body.
Focus on nutrition
Nutrition also plays an important role in your fitness progress, and to keep improving, you need a nutrition plan that supports your training. This means getting enough protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats and the micronutrients you need to build muscle and recover quickly.
Drink more water
Good hydration plays a critical role in muscle performance and recovery. It also plays an essential role in your heart health and your digestive system. Mild dehydration can even affect your mood and motivation.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, there are other ways you can stay hydrated. Try increasing drinking herbal tea, grabbing a green smoothie and having soup as a meal several times a week. But the easiest way to make sure you’re hydrated is to drink two to three litres each day — it can help you to feel your best and power through a workout plateau.
Make time for rest
Rest days allow you to take a break from training and allow your body to recover. During rest, your body begins to replenish its energy stores and when it gets to work repairing the muscle tissue used during your workouts. This is an essential part of the process to help your muscles grow bigger and stronger.
You should allow at least one day for rest each week. This isn’t something to feel guilty about — use it as an opportunity to catch up with friends, spend time with family, read a book or watch tv, whatever you enjoy! You may find that after taking a rest day you have more energy for your next workout and your performance improves.
Getting enough sleep is also critical for your recovery. If you have interrupted sleep for any reason, it’s okay to back off your workout intensity until you can sleep better.
Use progressive overload
Progressive overload is a principle for training that means you gradually increase the stress placed on your body during workouts. This means that as your body has to keep adapting to new stressors.
It’s important to do this in a safe way to avoid injury or overtraining.
One way to avoid a fitness plateau is to follow a workout program designed by a personal trainer with expertise in getting the results you want!
A workout style you enjoy is the best possible form of exercise!
Doing exercise that you enjoy is the key to a healthy lifestyle and long-term results!
When your exercise program fits your lifestyle, and that you can stick to!
How have you overcome a workout plateau? Let us know in the comments below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.