Overcoming Plateaus in Your Training
What is a training plateau?
A training plateau hits when you no longer progress with your workouts. Reaching a plateau could be due to several reasons, such as our bodies becoming accustomed to a certain caloric intake and the stress we place on it through weight training. Perhaps you cannot add more weight to your sets, or you haven’t gained any additional muscle in quite some time. The main thing is not to worry because it is a common occurrence, and there are ways to continue, with some tweaks, and still make progress.
It’s time for strategic modifications
Knowing how to overcome a plateau can feel overly complicated and confusing, and having you ready to try a whole bunch of new strategies at once. Now is the time for strategic modifications to your training program and nutrition plan. Make changes to your program design Start by making one or two small changes to your schedule so you can accurately track and assess, over the next 7-10 days, if the modifications are making a difference.
*Pro-tip: Remember to go back to basics and prioritize good form, rest, and proper recovery.
Try progressive overloading
Progressive overload training is a type of strength training where you gradually increase the intensity or difficulty of workouts over time, building muscle mass and strength and maximizing results by consistently challenging the body. The gradual increases challenge the body while preventing plateaus in muscle growth and reducing the risk of injury.
This concept is part of being strategic as you progressively stress the muscles by following a plan. Instead of increasing the weight or intensity too quickly on days when you feel good, you are heading into the gym with an outline of what you will do each day. Always listen to your body and take a break or decrease the intensity if you need to, and aim to keep increases in time, weight, or intensity to 10% or less each week. Exercise should begin at a comfortable but challenging level and gradually increase intensity over time; this method can be applied to strength and cardio training. Taking the long view is the right course of action here; no need to rush.
Take a planned recovery week
Most people often don’t associate resting with muscle growth. Still, when you’re working out, the body is breaking down muscle tissue, and when you’re at rest, new tissue forms. Give your body sufficient time to repair itself, ensuring you return to the gym stronger and refreshed. A planned recovery week, every 6 to 8 weeks, gives your joints and ligaments a well-deserved break, can increase motivation, and provides a training marker. It can help you stay focused and train harder if you know you have a break coming up.
Mix it up
If you’re in cardio training, instead of being indoors on the treadmill, hit the hiking trails, climb steep hills at your local park, get on your bike or work out at a different time of day. If you usually work out alone, join a knowledgeable buddy or gym colleague on their subsequent few training sessions to try new exercises and techniques. Hire a personal trainer to evaluate your program and goals. They can help keep you motivated, provide informed advice, challenge you, and adjust your form. If you’re eating the same thing day in and day out, your body has most likely adjusted to this the same way it has with your workouts. Change your meal plan, eat your largest meal in the middle of the day or try intermittent fasting. Assess your sleep patterns and if you’re getting enough rest. It might be time to create new sleep rituals to help rejuvenate tissues and build muscle.
If you’ve hit a workout plateau, reflect on your accomplishments and congratulate yourself. You might be reaching goals today that you never thought possible in the past. A workout plateau allows you to assess your routine, make changes, and leave your comfort zone. Remember that at a certain point, you will achieve your full or desired potential. Focus on maintaining your fitness level and finding new ways to keep your workouts fresh, and you will start seeing results again.
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