Hitting a plateau has to be the most frustrating part of participating in an exercise program. A so called “plateau” occurs when you stop seeing results in your exercise program, despite continuing to push yourself or exercise regularly.
Ways to avoid fitness training plateaus
Plateau can occur for many reasons, but there are also many things that you can do to prevent plateau in your program. One of the most popular ways to avoid plateau is changing up your program frequently.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
You can also challenge yourself to try something new and create a new goal to work towards. Hiring a personal trainer or joining a group fitness class can also change your routine enough to break through a plateau. Finally, interval training also can help you see new levels of results after being in a rut.
Changing your Program
A popular method used to prevent plateau in exercise programs is changing your routine. Many of us like routine: we get to the gym at around the same time daily, we get on our favorite piece of equipment to warm up, we do our exercise program (the same one we’ve been doing for months), and we stretch and go home.
This program may work for someone who is only interested in maintenance, but if someone is looking for a change in the body, we have to constantly change our program.
What should you change?
This is not to say that every single day, you have to do something completely different (although, that’s not a bad idea either). At the very least, every few weeks (4-6 weeks at the most) you should be changing your program.
You should consider changing the exercises, changing the intensity, changing the repetition range you are using, changing the rest periods, or changing all of the above. When programming for my athletes in particular, I use the concept of periodization to avoid plateau and ensure the client is not overtraining (overtraining is actually a cause of plateau, as well as injury and burnout).
Periodization is the utilization of different phases of training to elicit different results in the client. It allows the exerciser to alternate between higher intensities and volumes and lower intensities and volumes to prevent burnout, fatigue and plateau. You can (and I encourage you to) employ this same strategy in your training.
Create a New Challenge of Goal
One of the best ways to bust through a plateau is to create a new goal or challenge for yourself. Find a local race or event that you would like to participate in like a 5K, half marathon, triathlon or strength competition.
You can also make your own goal, such as creating a goal of squatting 100 pounds 10 times within the next 6 weeks. Training for the event will switch up your routine in such a way that it will help you to overcome your plateau. When selecting your new goal, be sure you select a goal that is different from what you have been doing in your current training.
For example, if you are already a long distance runner, choosing to do long runs may not be enough change to your program to make a difference. Choosing a strength goal, however, would change up your routine enough to see a significant change in your body and fitness level.
Hiring a Personal Trainer or Joining a Group Fitness Class
Another way to bust through a plateau is to find a personal trainer or join a group fitness class. Personal Trainers study the body and how the body works and are educated on how to avoid fitness training plateaus.
A good Personal Trainer will sit down with you and discuss what you have been doing in your program, and discuss what he or she will do with your program to help you get through the plateau. Even a session or two a week for a few weeks will help you to push yourself to new limits.
You can also have a go at a group fitness class to try something a little different and help you push your body to new heights!
A final way to help you get through a fitness plateau is to add interval training to your routine.
Instead of slow steady-state cardio, use alternating high and low intensity intervals will help you to see new heights of cardiovascular fitness and see new results. If you are already using intervals in your training, you can try to change up the work: rest ratio you are using.
For example, if you are currently doing 30 seconds work and 30 seconds rest, try to amp it up by doing 45 seconds work and 45 seconds of rest (and slowly add as you increase fitness). This should help you to blast past your current plateau.
I hope your program benefits from these tips to help you push past a fitness plateau. If you feel like you’ve been in a fitness rut, trying these tips should help you get past it! Feel free to leave your favorite tip in a comment below!
Read more from Expert Sarah Walentynowicz.