The workout plateau – or when your workout stops working for you is a common phenomenon.
It seems the fitter you are and the more you have worked out, the more likely it is you will hit one -or more on your fitness journey.
In the realm of fitness, a workout plateau is not merely a term but a phase where you hit a wall and your consistent efforts seemingly cease to yield further improvements.
It’s rare that any fitness fanatic doesn’t hit one according to the experts and it can be frustrtaing and even dosheartening.
The science behind a workout plateau is deeply intertwined with our body’s remarkable ability to adapt.
According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, our bodies are inherently designed to adapt to physical stress, which includes the stress exerted during exercise.
Initially, the body responds to the unfamiliar stress by improving its mechanisms, enhancing muscle strength, and boosting endurance. However, as the body becomes accustomed to the routine, the rate of progress decelerates.
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) elucidates that the human body, in its pursuit of homeostasis, adapts to exercise routines anywhere between six to eight weeks.
Post this period, if the exercise regimen remains unaltered, the body ceases to experience the required stress to further adapt, leading to a plateau.
So, what do you do when your workout stops working?
The key lies in understanding the intricate balance between stress and recovery, and subsequently, implementing strategies that can rekindle your progress.
- Reassess and Revamp Your Routine: The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) emphasizes the significance of periodically altering your workout routine to continue challenging your body. This could involve modifying the intensity, duration, frequency, or type of exercise to reintroduce the element of stress that propels adaptation.
- Incorporate Variation: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research highlighted that varying exercises can enhance muscle activation, thereby potentially aiding in breaking through plateaus. Introducing new exercises or alternating between different forms of workouts (such as HIIT, strength training, and yoga) can provide fresh stimuli to the muscles.
- Prioritise Recovery: The role of recovery in fitness is paramount. Inadequate recovery can lead to overtraining, which might hinder performance and potentially lead to a plateau. Ensuring adequate rest, sleep, and incorporating restorative practices like yoga or meditation can enhance recovery and optimise performance.
- Focus on Nutrition: The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition emphasises the pivotal role of nutrition in athletic performance and recovery. Ensuring your diet is aligned with your fitness goals, and possibly consulting a nutritionist, can provide the necessary fuel and recovery to aid your body, potentially assisting in overcoming a plateau.
- Seek Professional Guidance: Engaging with a fitness expert or a personal trainer who can analyse your current routine, identify potential gaps, and curate a customised plan can provide a fresh perspective and expert insights into navigating through the plateau.
- Listen to Your Body: Tuning into your body’s signals and understanding its needs is crucial. Sometimes, a plateau might be indicative of the body requiring a different kind of care or a shift in focus towards other aspects of wellness.
- Set New Goals: Reevaluating your fitness goals and setting new milestones can reignite your motivation and provide a clear direction towards which your efforts should be channelized.
Navigating through a workout plateau requires a blend of strategic alterations, adequate recovery, and a dash of patience.
By understanding the science behind plateaus and implementing evidence-backed strategies, you pave the way towards reigniting your fitness journey, ensuring that every drop of sweat contributes towards your evolving wellness narrative.