You’ve gotten yourself into a great training routine, hitting the gym at a minimum of 5 days a week. During your workouts, you’re pushing yourself harder than ever, exceeding your PRs and staying focused on form. It’s been a few months of hard work, and you’ve seen substantial changes in endurance, muscle gains and strength. Now, however, you’ve hit a wall. Each rep feels harder than ever to complete. Putting on gym clothes and walking through those doors takes every ounce of mental and physical strength you have. So, what gives? Why, all of a sudden, do you feel unmotivated, lethargic and weak.
This may be part of the dreaded plateau, which may be accompanied by decreased muscle gains or slower weight loss as your body settles into its “new normal.” Pushing past the plateau is key to continuing toward your fitness goals, and here are five ways to help get you over the hump.
Make sure to get enough recovery time
While pushing to be your best is always important, it’s never a good idea to skimp on the recovery period. Lacking time to rest and recover can easily send your body into a burnout. Denise Austin, a fitness icon and creator of Stop the Clock Workout and Nutrition Plan for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s told Forbes, “when you exercise too much or too hard you become susceptible to overuse syndrome — which can increase the risk of injury to your joints, ligaments and tendons.” For this reason, striking a balance in your fitness routine is vital to not only building strength but also sustaining it long-term.
Bring variety into your fitness regimen
Going to the same gym with the same routine is not only boring for you, but also for your body. Your muscles naturally adapt to the exercises you complete, meaning that they’ll get less benefit. Research shows that changes in exercise are more effective in building muscle than maintaining the same routine. Spicing it up with something new keeps the workouts interesting and allows your body a chance to use muscles it’s not used to engaging. And, you’ll feel renewed with a new challenge. So, if you’re usually lifting weights, take a jog. If cardio is your thing, try a strength class or turn up the intensity with a boot camp.
Up the intensity
This may seem like an obvious solution, but it’s worth reiterating. Of course, as your body gets used to your usual exercise routine, upping the ante will throw it a curveball. Whether it’s increasing speed or incline on a treadmill, adding heavier weights or completing more reps, heightening the intensity is one of the simplest ways to overcome a plateau. However, while increasing the intensity of your workout be sure not to compromise form to avoid injury and get the most out of every move.
Focus on nutrition
The focus on health and wellness shouldn’t end at the gym, and proper nutrition needs to remain a top priority. Proper nutrition will help your body build muscle and fuel workouts to increase the intensity and push past that plateau. Without the proper balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein and nutrients, your output will suffer, and you won’t see the results you’re craving over time.
After months of hard work, it may be discouraging to feel a sense of plateau both mentally and physically. Fortunately, it’s not the end. And, with a renewed sense of focus and a few tools and hand, you can overcome the plateau and get your fitness routine back on track.