We all experience that weird moment where no matter how much we train, we’re not improving. Especially after months (or even years!) of hard work and continuously grinding in the gym, you suddenly find yourself not improving as much anymore. Your strength stays the same, your physique has stabilized, and you begin to lose the drive to continue working out. This is a ‘plateau’, and it’s something that many gym-goers dread to hear. For one, it means that you’ve worked out long enough that you probably had considerable gains but not being able to continue your progress can be very frustrating.
However, like most obstacles in your fitness life, you can break through and make sure you still get the maximum amount of gains you want. Let’s take a deeper look, shall we?
Why Am I in a Plateau?
As mentioned before, if you’ve been exercising for weight loss or physique development for quite some time, you might hit a plateau. This is normal as this only means that your body is adapting to the load you’re putting. Due to being accustomed to the exercises, caloric intake, and load intensity the body begins to thinks this is the normal state and refuses to budge. Is hitting a plateau difficult? Yes. Is it impossible to get out of? No.
How to Break Through a Plateau?
There are multiple ways to rise from a plateau, and while there isn’t one cure-all, there are multiple ways to break out of it. If one doesn’t work, try the other ways as each individual’s body reacts differently.
1. Progressive Overload… or Simply Lift Heavier
One simple solution to break out of this situation is to simply lift heavier. Your muscles have adjusted your current exercise intensity, and it simply needs more. Try adding 2 to 3 more reps on each set, or drop 2 to 3 sets but increase the weight. If you’re doing time-based exercises, you can add 10-15 seconds more. Even though you’ll be adding intensity to your current exercises, don’t forget to maintain proper form and not add too much to the point of failure.
This will shock the body and will send it working once again, as the new stimulus will have to be interpreted by the body once again- thereby ‘restarting’ the gains you’ve been missing.
2. Hire a Professional
Most gym-goers are used to exercising on their own, as it lends some degree of concentration. While it might have worked for you, it’s about time you switch it up and hire a pro. Having a fitness trainer or health coach help you with your workouts brings a lot of benefits: access to superior knowledge in exercise and diet, real-time form check, and safety. Also, most health coaches come with a training program specifically developed with your progress in mind. This will definitely help you break out of that plateau.
Having a fitness coach might be something you’ve needed all along. Even if you haven’t hit a plateau, a coach can help push you to the best you’ll be.
3. Switch It Up
The whole idea behind your body plateauing is that it’s gotten used to the exercises you’ve been doing. Another simple solution to this is to do different exercises and perhaps in a new location as well. Adapting to stimulus is our body’s survival instinct, and we need to find ways to safely subvert that.
By doing a different set of exercises, we’re sending new stimuli for our body to understand. This also boosts motivation, as you’ll be exposed to new and potentially fun exercises. This is the best opportunity to look into exercises you’ve never done before, or even new fitness facilities you’ve heard of but never bothered trying. When was the last time you tried something new and have been excited about it? Go ahead and try it, as it will shake off the samey-ness of your years of exercise.
4. Get That Well Deserved Rest
The body needs rest to fully recover from all the exercises you’ve been doing. This is among the most common reasons for plateau as well- not giving enough time for the body to recover. The excitement and the feeling of ‘not working hard enough’ might be hard to suppress but this is one thing you definitely need regardless.
Take a week-long vacation, do only light exercises during that time. This will allow the body to repair the micro-tears you’ve been inflicting for hypertrophy, or even mend soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Getting proper sleep is also crucial, as our body does the repair work during sleep. All the hard work in the gym will be fruitless if you don’t let your body recover and put that hard work to good use.