There are few things more frustrating when working towards your fitness goals than hitting a plateau.
Plateaus can occur in weigh loss, weight gain, or strength building phases and is basically a point where your body stops adapting to the stimulus you are giving it to affect change.
Plateaus can be frustrating especially when you are doing all the “right” things.
Here are the first five things to keep in mind when you feel you’ve hit a plateau and want to break through it.
Increase your calories. Decreasing your calories too low for too long in a fat loss phase can cause you body to adapt to the lower calorie range. This makes weight loss or strength gain challenging for the body. Intentionally and incrementally increasing your calorie intake or practicing regular re-feeding days can help reverse and prevent this adaptation.
Implement a deload week into your training schedule. A “Deload” is a purposeful reduction in training load or volume for the purposes of rest and recovery. Deload weeks are necessary and important. Skipping deload weeks or training with an “as much as possible every session” mentality can lead to overtraining and make it difficult for the body to recover- resulting in a plateau.
Check your programming. Plateaus can occur when training programs are not properly progressed. Out bodies adapt to performing the same exercises at the same weight or for the same reps over and over again. That is why proper progression is essential to achieving weight loss goals as well as strength building or performance based goals. It also helps to reduce and prevent plateaus.
Monitor sleep and recovery habits. Disrupted sleep, vitamin and other nutrient deficiencies, stress, and other medical conditions can have a dramatic impact on your body’s ability function like it should. Recognizing any disruptors to your sleep, managing excess stress, and being intentional about your vitamin and nutrient intake can help break through plateaus.
Be patient Most importantly in reducing or breaking through a plateau is actually being sure you are in one to begin with. Body composition changes and strength building take TIME. May people may feel they are in a plateau when they really need to be patient with the process. Be patient, be consistent in all aspects of your nutrition and training. If you don’t see results after a month of consistency then you may be in a plateau.
The main takeaway is that plateaus happen- the faster you can identify the cause of the plateau, the faster you can break through it. But identifying the cause takes intentional tracking, monitoring, and mindful assessment of your habits, your training, your environment, and how your body is responding to it.
Use the above tips to begin to make these assessments for yourself and you will soon be able to better identify your unique body signals and what your body needs to get the results you are working for.