By Regie Simmons, Fitbodiez.com
We all know what a plateau is, but for giggles I wanted to provide the definition, just to make sure that we are all on the same page.
One dictionary defined plateau as a situation where something has stalled that was progressing forward previously. Another dictionary defines it as a period, level, of relative stability, or relatively little change.
Regardless of the definition used, plateaus are not a good thing. I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also align on the fact that physical plateaus are inevitable. The question isn’t if they will occur, but how quickly you’ll break that plateau and continue along your journey to health and fitness.
Why Plateaus Occur
Before we talk about ways to break a plateau, let’s first examine why they occur. In general, a plateau will occur when your body stops responding to your current diet and/or level of exercise. The human body is a wonderful machine that has demonstrated an ability to grow and adapt very quickly to challenges.
If you are attempting to lose weight, for example, and your caloric intake and macronutrients have remained the same month-after-month, it might be time to examine your diet. Likewise, if you’ve been following the same workout for more than 6-8 weeks, it might be time for a change. Given that the human body is skilled at adaption, your objective is to constantly adjust your diet and exercise routine. By doing so, your body will always be forced to play catch-up.
Diet and exercise are two levers that can be adjusted to break plateaus, however the remainder of this article will focus on the physical aspects of the equation.
So, now that we’ve defined a plateau and examined why they occur, the next question is what should be done to break out of them? Generally speaking, it’s human nature to be comfortable and as a result we often find a comfort zone and stick with it. For some, that comfort zone is cardio and for others, it’s the same exercise routine week-in, week-out. The best way to break out of the plateau is to change things up.
Here are several ways that you can start breaking out of the plateau today:
1. Perform exercises that you hate. The body grows when presented with new challenges, so perform those exercises and movements that you hate to perform. More than likely, they’re not even in your workout routine.
2. Heavy versus light weight, and vice versa. If you train with light weights, try working out for several weeks with heavier weights. If you train with heavy weights, try using lighter weights.
3. Not all cardio is the same. Instead of doing steady-state cardio, try HIIT cardio. HIIT cardio is proven to result in more fat loss than steady-state cardio and in less time.
4. Speed up your workout’s tempo. Cut your recovery time between reps and sets to 60 seconds or less. Keep it moving.
5. Change it up. Change the order of your exercise(s) and/or the days that you exercise. If you always train chest on Monday, switch it to Thursday. Instead of training hamstrings then quads, reverse it.
6. Modify your set and rep count. If you normally perform 3 sets of 10 reps, try 4-5 sets with 12-15 reps.
8. Slow your rep tempo. Instead of a 1:1 tempo (one second negative, one second positive), try slowing down your tempo to a 3:3 tempo (3 seconds negative, 3 seconds positive) to increase the time under tension.