You’ve hit a plateau. Now what?
So you’ve been exercising and eating relatively well for a while now, and you were making consistent progress and seeing results as your body changed. Suddenly, it appears that your progress has halted. Physical changes aren’t happening the way they used to, and it is causing you some frustration. Now if you haven’t experienced this, you might be unaware but you have hit a physical plateau. It’s important to understand that plateaus are to be expected but you don’t necessarily have to accept them. They are normal, temporary and often inevitable pauses in progress. They should not make you feel terrible about your efforts, depressed or discouraged. Instead, you should view your plateau as a mile marker of your progress. Using it as an indicator that you have already made significant health and fitness improvements, and now it’s time to adjust what you’ve been doing so that you can continue making further improvements.
If you have been exercising on your own for a while and are seeking to take your health and fitness to another level, one way you can break through you plateau is to seek the advice of a health and fitness professional. After consulting with them honestly, they will be able to give you specific programming and tips that can allow you to continue to improve while training on your own. Alternatively, you may find it helpful to have a period of time utilising the services of this professional. By working with a fitness professional they will be able to give you “proof” (recorded evidence) of the success you’ve achieved. The proof can be things such as changes in body weight (if this is your priority); changes in girth measurements; changes in body fat percentages; improvements in measured strength; improvements in flexibility; and improvements in cardiovascular endurance. This positivity can sometimes be the extrinsic motivation that will help you break through your plateau.
Recognising that you have plateaued might lead you to thinking that drastic actions have to be taken. This isn’t the case. Of all advice I can give in relation to experiencing and working through plateaus, the most valuable piece of advice is this; BE PATIENT. Being patient doesn’t mean you just accept how things are, but you understand that it is part of the health and fitness journey. As a part of that journey, there are a few things that you can do to give yourself every advantage to ‘break-through’ your plateau.
1. Analyse, and then adjust, your exercise routine
When you analyse your exercise routine consider how much strength training and cardio you’re doing over the course of a week as well as the type. You should view your workout week as whole, rather than individual workouts. This way, you get a clear picture of whether or not you are hitting the necessary requirements to achieve the goals that you set out to achieve. Modifying the time of day you train, the length of your workouts along with the intensity can help you identify changes that could help you work through your plateau. Trying different styles of workouts such as body weight, free weight and circuit sessions can also be quite beneficial. This is not to ‘shock’ your body into change, but to help it overcome the adaptability that comes with repeating the same exercises, performed the same way, for an extended period of time.
2. Refocus on your nutritional habits
During your analysis of your exercise routine, you should also dedicate time to focus on your nutritional habits to ensure that you are meeting your daily macronutrient requirements. This way, you can ensure that the food you put into your body is conducive in helping you to achieve your goals. We are not talking about what ‘diet’ you’re on, but rather looking at the food you consume through a nutrient-based lens. Throughout this process some questions you can ask yourself include:
Have I been consistently consuming low carbohydrate foods?
Have the foods I’ve been eating been predominantly high fat?
Have my nutritional habits been higher or lower, in protein than what my body actually needs?
Am I eating balanced meals consistently?
Are the foods I’m eating helping to effectively fuel my body for what I am trying to achieve?
During your analysis, if you can only guesstimate then it might be worth your while, for a short period anyways, tracking what you normally consume. Doing this may help give you a clearer picture of what you need to adjust to get you closer to the point where you want to be.
3. Look beyond physical success
When you feel as if your physical success has halted, and you’ve hit a plateau, looking
beyond this type of success is one way that you can keep motivated. Recognizing the important role that the other aspects of health play in your overall wellbeing, can
have such a calming and positive influence as you work through the physical plateau. Being able to arm yourself with new knowledge is a sign of success. Taking steps towards creating a positive mental health outlook, and understanding the importance it plays in your overall health and fitness is another sign of success. If we each pause, and genuinely analyse the improvements that we have made in our lives while improving our health and fitness, the moments we do experience physical plateaus will not discourage us. In fact, they may even serve as reminders for us to take stock of the overall successes we’ve had.
Remember, if you are experiencing a health and fitness plateau, being patient and trusting the process of working through it are vital for you to continue to achieve the success you desire. Plateaus may deflate you temporarily, but don’t let them defeat you permanently. DO NOT GIVE UP.
If you are enduring a plateau, and you want assistance regarding your specific situation, or you would like to work with a fitness professional focused on helping you be the best version of yourself, get in touch today. All clients including past, present and future are welcomed to reach out, speak up and make a genuine connection to take their health and fitness to a new level. Cheers to your improved health and fitness.