Plateaus. What are they and why do they happen?
If you have been on your fitness journey for some time, chances are you have experienced a plateau or two at some point or another. A plateau is a state of little or no change following a period of activity of progress. So why do they happen?
Yes, doing the same workout with the same exercises, repetitions, resistance, and rate will eventually result in becoming accustomed to that workout, and therefore not making any more advances, but there are other reasons that cause plateaus.
Plateaus are a normal part of training, and it is how you react to them that matters.
The answer isn’t always lift more or more cardio. This approach can lead to over-training, which often results in injury, fatigue, and de-motivation. To make sure your training produces results, try these.
1. Align your training program to your fitness goals
Firstly, make sure your training program is aligned with your fitness goals. If you’re looking to build up your strength, be sure your training focuses on that. There can be a downside to adding in days of cardio just because you think you need to. Considering asking an exercise professional to look over your training program or create one for you. Also, ensure you are tracking your workouts along the way. Remember, if you are not assessing, you are guessing.
2. Think about how you’re fuelling your body
Pushing yourself to your max without fuelling correctly can cause you to plateau, or even go backwards with your progress. Insufficient fuel means not only are your muscles not getting enough energy to rebuild, but when you don’t eat enough your body will hold onto fat, or even regain fat in the effort to protect your heart and body organs. Re-evaluate your nutrition plan and make sure it aligns with your training.
Once you’ve revised your nutrition plan, think about how you are going to put that into action. I like to spend Sunday afternoon preparing meals for the next few days ahead. For me, it is all about fresh food rather than frozen portions so I prepare food for Monday to Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night, do the next three days. There is no right or wrong answer here, just the right answer for you so that you are prepared in line with your plan and can consistently follow through with your nutrition goals.
3. Remember, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury!
Unfortunately, busy lifestyles all too often result in us reducing sleep to find more time. Remember, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury! Not getting at least 7 hours, a night puts the body in a state of stress, which can cause belly fat gain. Sleep is also vital to allow your muscles to recover, so that they can grow and become stronger. Often, taking just a week off from exercise can help you to bust a plateau.
When we’re stressed, the first thing to fall by the wayside is enough sleep. I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to hold onto the rejuvenation that comes with enough sleep.
4. Rehydrate, rehydrate, rehydrate
We all know it’s good to drink water, and when you exercise you need more than the average person. The most common cause of failure during workouts is not being fully hydrated so be sure to hydrate before, during, and after training.
Plateaus are a normal part of training. It is how you react to them that matters.