After you spend some time getting fit, losing weight, building strength, or any other goal you might have for your workout results, it’s common to run into a fitness plateau.
Plateaus can be as subtle as stalling out on fat loss, or as extreme as hitting a wall when you’re training to increase endurance. Use these approaches to push yourself through.
Crank Up Your Intensity
When you reach a threshold in your workout routine, adding intervals of more intense activity can be just the trick to push past a plateau. When your body adapts to your exercise, it becomes more efficient. That means it doesn’t need to work as hard in order to get through physical challenges.
This is why increasing the challenge works so well. And using short intervals to do so is an excellent choice as you build your fitness level. You can consider a program focused on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to accomplish this, or simply try adding a couple of minutes of extra tough work every few minutes of your workout.
On a treadmill, for example, this can equate to breaking up 30 minutes of steady pace with one minute of sprint, every 5 minutes.
Switch Up Your Routine
Because your metabolism responds to physical activity by improving, it can eventually start to work against you if you stick with the same workout routine. Your body will adapt to what you are doing, and your results can level out after a time, causing a plateau effect.
So what if you’re not done yet, with reaching your goals? Adding variety to your workout routine has been shown to have positive effects in triggering new body responses. When you keep your nerves firing under new conditions, it signals to your system that it needs to meet new demands. In this way, you can breakthrough a rut.
Try alternating your cardio days with a different machine. Or, if you’re taking group fitness classes most days, you might replace two days per week with weight training.
Get Serious About Scheduling
A professional approach to training a body over the long term includes a schedule that helps avoid fitness plateaus with proper planning. The method known as “periodization” is basically a system of progressing movement difficulty and workout challenges, adding in variety, and addressing intensity needs that your body’s adaptations will present over the course of time.
Personal trainers and athletic coaches use periodization techniques to create dramatic results for committed enthusiasts. It’s especially popular in strength training and conditioning programs, but anyone can take a similar, planned approach to improving their progress—and to avoiding plateaus as a result.
You might propel yourself to new fitness achievements by simply writing out a plan for your workouts with an eye on progressing yourself in a few key measurement areas, over a period of 8 weeks. Keeping track of what you are doing and applying increases and challenges at regular intervals, can make all the difference in between getting “stuck” and pushing through to the results you’ve been aiming for.