8 Ways to Bust Your Way out of a Fitness Plateau
After a month or so of working out, you’ll likely hit a workout plateau and see no progress despite religiously going through the motions of your routine.
You might find yourself losing strength and failing to increase reps or weight to your training sets. You may even feel flush or get injured often during your workouts.
Why Plateaus Occur
Any of the following reasons can cause a workout plateau:
- You get accustomed to training.
Your body eventually becomes more efficient at doing repeated exercises once you hit the 6th to 8th week. The same activities will no longer put any stress on your body if you don’t do new movements or additional repetitions after week 16.
- You’re overtraining.
Headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and frequent colds indicate that you’re struggling with overtraining syndrome (OTS). You may also have to reassess your goals and find a more suitable type of training.
- You’re not eating well.
You may lose track of what you eat as you go forward in your fitness regimen. Too much may cause your calorie level to shoot up.
· You lack sleep.
Netflixers beware—little sleep can cause your body to produce more stress hormones (cortisol), which can make you overeat or crave for fatty and sugary food. Cortisol also slows down your metabolism, reducing the amount of fat lost by as much as 55%.
How to Break through the Plateau
1. Journal your performance.
Your weight can change as your food and water intake varies slightly within the day or throughout the week. Moreover, women can weigh a little heavier during their period due to water retention and food cravings. This makes weight an unreliable indicator of your workout gains. Instead, write down or use a tracker to record your exercise reps and weights.
2. Realize that it will take time for you to shed your “real fat.”
It’s usually easy to lose your first five to 10 pounds because you lose more water—as much as five pounds—than fat during the first few weeks.
3. Tweak your routine.
Introduce changes to your workout every four to six weeks such as adjusting the type of exercise, increasing weight, number of reps per exercise, and the number of exercises within a given timeframe.
For variety, you can try interval training like Tabata or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). You can also change your workout set-up, location, and schedule.
4. Incorporate strength training.
Doing cardiovascular exercises alone can reduce muscle mass. Maintain and build more muscle through weight training at least twice a week.
5. Tone down workout intensity to allow recuperation.
Dial down your training when exercises leave you with aches and pains that stretch through or beyond your rest days. It’s when you’re not working out that your muscle heals and forms new tissues after sustaining microscopic damages during training.
6. Adjust your diet.
As you lose weight, determine how many calories you should be eating. There are nutrient-dense and filling foods that are low on calories: protein-rich food such as fish, eggs, and meat, fiber from whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables as well as healthy fats.
7. Find a personal trainer.
Trainers can help by checking your form, adjusting your program, and providing you with the techniques and insights to get you out of your plateau and keep you accountable.
8. Celebrate your small wins.
Even if your weight loss has stalled, relish your other gains such as lower cholesterol, better-fitting pants, clearer skin, and an increase in confidence.