It’s a frustrating phenomenon that many of us face at one point or another in our fitness journeys: even though we’ve been staying on course and watching our diet and exercise, we still end up at a point where we just can’t seem to make any further progress.
If this sounds familiar, you might be dealing with the dreaded plateau.
Plateaus are incredibly discouraging and are very often the downfall of many fitness goals. You can definitely get over the hump and continue to make progress, but it’s a sure sign that something needs to change.
So whether you’ve reached a standstill early on in your fitness journey or are struggling with those stubborn last five pounds, here’s how to break through that plateau and keep your progress moving forward.
Simply put, a plateau means that you’ve reached a standstill in your progress. It can present itself in a couple of different ways:
A plateau could be caused by a couple of different reasons, and figuring out the reason behind yours is the first step to progressing.
For some people, the answer could be as simple as reevaluating your daily calorie intake and exercise intensity. But for others, you might be dealing with something more biological - namely, that your body has adjusted to your current diet or exercise routine and needs to be challenged more.
Take a look at your current eating patterns and do some honest evaluation - are you staying as strict as you were a couple of weeks ago? Sometimes all you need is a little recommitment to start making progress again.
As you lose weight, yourmetabolism slows down - it simply doesn’t need to burn as many calories to maintain all that fat and muscle tissue that you’ve lost during your fitness journey. Unfortunately, this means that you may need far fewer calories than you did ten, twenty, or fifty pounds ago. Recalculating your caloric needs and adjusting your diet accordingly could be necessary if you want to keep going.
You don’t have to go in a completely different direction, though. Something as simple as changing up the number of reps or the amount of weight that you’re lifting can challenge your muscles in a different way and spur on some progress.
If that still isn’t working, consideradding a completely different form of exercise to your routine. For example, if you’ve been focused only on weightlifting, try adding some HIIT or running to your weekly schedule. On the flip side, if you’ve only been doing cardio and bodyweight exercises, try pumping some iron instead.
Giving your body enough time to rest lets those muscles recover from all the strenuous work you’ve put them through. Aim for at least two days of active recovery so you can come back and hit your workouts as hard as you need to.
As discouraging as plateaus can be, it’s important to find ways to push through if you want to be successful in your long-term goals. The plateaus hardly ever go away on their own, so staying stagnant is a sure sign that you need to change things up, whether that means optimizing your diet or switching up your workouts.