If you are exercising to get stronger or fitter, tone or lose body fat, plateaus are a fact of fitness life, but there are clear and simple ways to keep on top of them as Sydney Personal Trainer Rachel Livingstone explains:
1) Nutrition: Take a good look at your food and exercise for the ‘plateau period’ and ask yourself are you still putting in the effort you were when you started? Or have you skipped a few workouts and attended a few more food oriented functions? You may find your current plan is working you just haven’t been sticking to it.
You simply need to refocus and re-motivate, saving your valuable plateau busting techniques for a real plateau. Perhaps some new music would help you rev things up.
2) Change your workout: The human body is amazing at adapting to a stimulus. That is why we achieve results, but also why we plateau. You cannot do the same routine month after month and expect continuing results. Change your workout every 4 weeks to keep up the stimulus. Even within the same workout you can change variables to up the ante. If you usually do 10 exercises with a moderate weight for 15 reps, try 2 weeks of the same 10 exercises but drop the weight by 20% and complete 30 reps non-stop. Alternatively you can increase the weight by 20% so you ‘fail’ at about 10 reps.
The reality is the nearer you get to your goal, be it a fitness level or body weight, the harder you will have to work for it.
Whether it is a motivation issue or a true plateau trying a new activity could help you break through, especially if it is a completely different form of exercise to what you normally do. If you are a runner, try a Crossfit session. If you usually do circuit weights try a boxing class.
The reality is the nearer you get to your goal, be it a fitness level or body weight, the harder you will have to work for it. What is your goal worth to you? The state level and Olympic runners have both trained, but one trained harder and gave up more. The same principle applies.
3) Tweak your program and write things down: You may well be doing everything right and just need to ‘tweak’ your food or exercise to start progressing again. To do this you need detailed information. Keeping a food and training diary including details like time of day, mood and type of exercise may give you an insight over days or weeks that was not obvious when you looked at each meal or workout individually.
4) Hire a pro: You can also shake things up by hiring a professional. This could be a personal trainer, a running coach or a nutritionist. Just one or two sessions may be all you need to gain a different perspective, re-motivate or get some new training techniques that are geared specifically to you and your goals.
5) Look at your overall lifestyle: Your body responds best when everything is working well so look at your nutrition, sleep, recovery and stress levels. Do you get enough nutrients? Could you replace one meal with a protein shake, vegetable juice or low fat smoothie? Do you get enough and good quality sleep? Is your recovery time sufficient or do you come into each workout sore and tired? If you operate in a fast paced world could you benefit from relaxation techniques or meditation?
It doesn’t have to be a big change. Sometimes a tiny variation can push you past that plateau and back on the road to your success.
How have you beaten a plateau tell us your secrets?
Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub www.healthhub.net.au
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