OVERCOME THE EXERCISE PLATEAU
How to move past the exercise plateau and get back into training
Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a fitness buff or an exercise ‘dabbler’, chances are you’ll eventually hit a plateau at some stage in your exercise routine.
Firstly, realize that when you have a plateau, it’s OK, because often it’s just a sign that your body is having a rest. Most people have a plateau about every 4-8 weeks and it’s OK. It’s preparation for the next breakthrough.
Hitting a plateau is a time to think about your progress and what options you can use to break through the plateau.
Whenever you gain fitness, strength or muscle, progress naturally slows. Over time, your body gets used to your exercise routine. One of your body’s main roles is to bring you back into homeostasis; otherwise known as balance. Your body will adapt to the routine if you’re no longer challenging it.
When you hit a plateau in your fitness, fat-loss or muscle gain, you can choose to be satisfied with where you’re at, or you can choose to bust through this plateau and keep improving.
If you chose the second option and are ready to go to the next level in your results, here are a few tips for overcoming a plateau.
1. INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM
Movement has the biggest impact on your metabolism. Cardio raises your metabolism but you need to make sure that you have regular resistance training in your weekly plan, to tone up your muscles. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so you’ll boost your metabolism by increasing this energy-burning lean body tissue.
Increase your activity level to counteract the natural reduction in metabolic rate that comes with adaptation. Increase the duration or effort during your exercise sessions to burn more calories. Use a pedometer (step counter) to check that you are also being as active as you can, throughout your day.
2. MIX IT UP
If you’ve been in a routine for a while, do something different. A change can add variety, shock your system and unblock your plateau.
One way to do this is by doing your favourite exercises differently. For example, if you use the bar every time for lunges, try using kettlebells or dumbbells, the next time you do this exercise. You may also have different variations for your legs such as a sumo squat, single-leg squat, box squat or step-ups. Use
a range of different free weights, handgrips, angles, rep-ranges and tempos to keep your body guessing.
When it comes to increase in strength or muscle gain, don’t change everything all at once. Making 1 or 2 small changes to begin with, will produce a difference. If you make too many changes, it’s hard to accurately trace back to find what works. Start by making small changes and assess if they made a difference or not within a week.
Then, if you need to, make additional changes. Always start off with small changes because our bodies respond better to small changes and thus we are more likely to follow through, rather than being overwhelmed with the plethora of changes.
3. REMEMBER WHY
Sometimes we forget what we need to be focusing on and why. Life can get busy and suddenly weeks have gone by without us making any real progress towards our most meaningful goals. Write down as many benefits to achieving your goals as possible. Remind yourself in writing what you will achieve from being fit and healthy. Write what you will see, hear and feel when you are past this plateau. This will help build the emotion of wanting to push out of your comfort zone and continue to progress. Continually remind yourself why you are doing this and all the health benefits that you are experiencing.
Also, keep a record of your exercise sessions. When it is written down, you may be surprised to see where you are skimping or cutting corners. Remember, our bodies are naturally lazy and need to do the bare minimum of movement to survive. It takes intention to put ourselves through the pain for improvement. Ongoing self-monitoring will help keep you on track.
4. FINALLY, BE PATIENT.
Go easy on yourself during a plateau period. You may be doing everything right and just need some time to make a breakthrough. If not, then it’s time for you to change things. Remember that lasting results don’t come instantly. Be kind to yourself and remember to enjoy the journey. It’s not about perfection; it’s about progress.
Kat millar owns Get Results Training, dedicated to helping people transform their health, mind & body. Since 2003, Kat has helped thousands of people achieve their goals. She’s a coach, speaker, awardwinning figure competitor, fitness lecturer & NLP practitioner. Her passion helps people achieve life-changing results & fulfillment, with a range of programs for holistic health & body transformation. Contact via Kat’s website or Facebook.