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7 Ways to Avoid a Fitness Plateau

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7 Ways to Avoid a Fitness Plateau

Started seeing results and wondering how to avoid a fitness plateau? We’re here to help!

It has happened to the best of us! You’re working hard, showing up for your workouts, keeping an eye on your nutrition and yet suddenly – seemingly out of nowhere – your results seem to drastically slow. This frustrating phase is known as a fitness plateau.

But don’t worry, hitting a plateau is easy to overcome if you know what to do – which you will by the end of this post! It’s an opportunity to reassess and adapt your approach. In this blog, we’ll explore the ways you can break through a fitness plateau and reach new heights on your fitness journey.

From changing up your workout routine to prioritising rest, we’ll cover all the essential information you need to make sure you don’t plateau, at least not unwillingly!

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Change up your workouts

Changing up your workouts is vital to avoiding a fitness plateau. This is because your body becomes accustomed to regular workouts. It adapts to the stimulus you give it.

If you’re giving it the same stimulus, it’ll adapt just as much as it needs to handle that stimulus, and no more. So, once it has adapted, you need to change the stimulus again, either by changing the type of challenge (or workout) you’re giving it, or using progressive overload (which we’ll get into next).

Let’s go one step further. Your body will not only adapt and stop progressing with the same stimulus, it might actually de-progress! The human body is remarkably adaptable. When you perform the same exercises repeatedly, your body becomes more efficient at those specific movements, leading to diminished results over time. By varying your workouts, you continually challenge your muscles in new ways, preventing adaptation and promoting ongoing progress.

So, back to where we were… changing the workout type. Different exercises target muscles in unique ways. For example, while squats and lunges both work the legs, they engage the muscles differently. By incorporating a variety of exercises, you ensure that all muscle fibers are stimulated, leading to more comprehensive muscle growth and development.

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Here are some points to consider to change up your workouts:

  • Vary intensity and volume: Alternate between high-intensity and low-intensity workouts. Incorporate different volumes of sets and reps to keep your muscles guessing

  • Switch exercises: Change the exercises you do for each muscle group. For instance, if you usually do squats for your legs, try lunges or step-ups

  • Try different training styles: Incorporate different training methods like HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), strength training, cardio, circuit training, or yoga

Progressive overload is essential to avoid a fitness plateau

Aside from changing your workouts themselves, there’s something else you’ll want to do too and that’s make sure you’re incorporating progressive overload.

Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the strain your workouts are putting on your body, so that as you get fitter, your workouts are not necessarily feeling easier. By keeping up the strain you’re giving your body, your body is forced to continue to adapt to meet the new challenge, and you will avoid a plateau!

Here are some ways to integrate progressive overload into your routine:

  • Increase weight: Gradually increase the weight you lift to continue challenging your muscles

  • Increase reps or sets: Add more repetitions or sets to your routine to push your muscles further, or increase time if doing time-based workouts

  • Change tempo: Vary the speed of your repetitions. For example, try slowing down the eccentric (lowering) phase of an exercise

  • Add pulses: use pulses to finish sets. For example, you can finish a set of squats with squat pulses!

Get enough rest

Believe it or not, REST is a necessary ingredient to getting the fittest you have ever been and avoiding a fitness plateau. Let me explain why.

The process of actually getting fitter happens in two stages. When you exercise, you’re actually ‘damaging’ your body. For example, any sort of resistance/weight training is going to be creating micro-tears in your muscles. After you’ve done this damage, your body heals by growing more muscle tissue. This is how your muscles get bigger, or more refined.

Rest periods allow these tears to repair, leading to muscle growth and increased strength. Muscle recovery involves protein synthesis, a process that predominantly occurs during rest. Without sufficient rest, this process is impaired, hindering muscle growth.

And wait! There are even more reason to rest.

Rest is necessary for energy restoration, so that you can actually perform in your workouts. Your workouts require glycogen stores. One of the places your body stores glycogen is in your muscles for physical activity. Glycogen is crucial for providing a readily available source of energy during exercise!

Glycogen is a complex carbohydrate that serves as a primary storage form of glucose in the body. When you exercise, you deplete these stores and your body needs a chance to recuperate them.

As you can see, rest allows your body to adapt to the stresses of exercise, leading to improved strength, endurance, and overall performance. This adaptation is crucial for breaking through plateaus.

Here are some tips to getting enough rest so that you do not plateau on your fitness journey:

  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to allow your body to repair and grow.

  • Take rest days: Incorporate rest days into your routine to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Practice active recovery: Engage in low-intensity activities such as walking, stretching, or yoga on rest days to promote blood flow and recovery.

Make sure you have someone pushing you

A workout buddy that’s as committed to getting as fit as you are could be game-changing. We know not everyone will have this person readily avaiable, but if you do, take advantage of this and help eachother out.

My fitness journey began by going to group classes at my local leisure centre with my childhood best friend who lived a couple roads down. Each week, we’d book ourselves onto the same 5-6 evening classes.

After school, we’d meet at the top of my road and walk to the leisure centre together.

She discovered that she loved spin and cardio, and she helped me make sure I had this covered. In the end, I never fell in love with spin, but I did fall in love with walking and running.

I discovered I loved weight training, and I was able to coach her on this. Eventually, I become a personal trainer myself, and to this day my friend is a devoted spin class-goer, almost a decade later!

If you don’t have someone around you who is also ready to commit to their fitness, you can join a local community – such as a local fitness studio with a solid group of regulars, an online fitness community, or hire yourself an expert female personal trainer.

Get a personal trainer

A personal trainer, especially a female personal trainer who understands the female body, will offer you their expert fitness knowledge and experience, devotion to fitness, and commitment to your fitness goals to transform your life and ensure you do not plateau.

You might like a trainer to be there at every workout, or maybe just once or twice a week while you workout solo the rest of the time. Your trainer will support you between sessions by checking in, holding you accountable, and offering the motivation and advice you need on-the-go.

The right trainer will make sure you’re getting well-rounded workouts that address all your fitness needs, including muscle strength, joint mobility, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility. They’ll make sure you’re using correct form, know how to safely use progressive overload, and are making empowered food choices that support your fitness journey.

They’ll create a personalised plan for you that they’ll adjust as needed. Feeling safe and supported around them, you’ll likely push yourself harder than you ever would have alone. They’ll reliably measure your progress and track your goals. They’ll be there every step of the way to make sure you get to where you want to be. We know personal training can change your life. Here are 5 reasons why personal training for women is a worthwhile investment.

If you’re curious about how even one or two personal training sessions a week could transform your fitness and ensure you do not plateau, you can check out our personal trainers and sign up for a consultation here.

Visualise your next level

Really seeing yourself clearly, visualisating what you want to achieve next, is a proven tool for success. Many professional athletes use visualisation as a tool. For example, Michael Phelpsthe most decorated Olympian of all time, has spoken about his use of visualisation before races. He mentally rehearses every aspect of his swim, from his stroke technique to how he will feel at different points in the race.

Visualisation helps bridge the gap between physical training and actual performance, making it an essential component of success. Don’t understimate the power of visualisation!

How to practice visualisation:

1. Find a quiet space

2. Get comfortable – you can lie or sit, as long as you can relax your body

3. Take slow deep breathes into your entire ribcage (front and back) until you feel yourself relax

4. In your mind’s eye, define a specific goal you’d like to achieve

5. Create a detailed mental image, see yourself living it

6. Incorporate all your senses – what can you feel, hear, smell, see?

7. Visualise the journey you’d go on to achieve this

8. Know that it is already happening

9. Slowly open your eyes, and re-enter your day

You can repeat this as often as you would like! You can also check out this free guided meditation and visualise your healthiest version of self.

Summary

Reaching a fitness plateau is frustrating, but it you don’t need to be put off. Now armed with this new information, you can break through this plateau and continue seeing amazing results.

These seven strategies – changing up your workouts, incorporating progressive overload, prioritising rest, finding a support system, considering a personal trainer, and visualising your success – will ensure your body continued to get what it needs to continue adapting and getting fitter.

Remember, variation is key to challenging your body and preventing adaptation, while progressive overload ensures continual growth. Adequate rest allows your muscles to repair and strengthen, essential for sustained improvement. Having someone to push you, whether it’s a workout buddy or a personal trainer, provides accountability and motivation. And finally, visualisation harnesses the power of your mind to envision success and maintain focus.

Stay committed, stay adaptable, and stay focused on your goals. Your journey to peak fitness is within reach – you’ve got this!

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