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Exercise

Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

5 Reasons You Hit A Fitness Plateau & How to Beat It

Consistent with workouts but stopped seeing results? Do not throw in the towel! Here are 5 reasons you may have hit a fitness plateau and just how to beat it.

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A plateau is essentially a slowed or halted progression, even despite being proactive and "doing all the right things."

So if consistent with workouts but stopped seeing results, you may have hit a fitness plateau. But do not let this trigger you to throw in the towel!

Here are 5 reasons you may have hit a fitness plateau and just how to beat it!

Reason #1: Your goals may be unrealistic.

First ask yourself if you are really experiencing a fitness plateau or if your goals may be too lofty or unrealistic.

And while it is of course admirable to dream big, expecting monumental results in a short bit of time may leave you feeling defeated.

How to Beat the Fitness Plateau:

Start by identifying exercises that you enjoy, as you are more likely to stick to an activity you find gratifying than attending workouts you dread. For instance, if you hate running, signing up for a race may not be in your best interest.

Making SMART (an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals is a proven way to meet goals, as they shown to increase the greatest compliance. So rather than saying "I will complete 20 pull-ups," if you have yet to master your first, create a SMART goal may indicate "I will complete a pull-up in a month by utilizing a 30-day pull-up plan."

Reason #2: Your workouts never change.

One of the greatest advantages of the body is its ability to acclimate. Well, unless you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass…

When you are continually performing the same exercises session after session, eventually the body learns to handle the stressors, muscles start memorizing movements, and perhaps are not effective as they once were.

How to Beat the Fitness Plateau:

Shake things up a bit! Doing so helps deter from monotonous muscle memory and trigger new activations.

To illustrate, instead of always doing squats in a structured program, switch the movement to lunges. While lunges still target the lower half of the body, you are now targeting muscle groups at different angles.

High-intensity interval training, or more better known as HIIT, is another plateau-busting workout to give a try. HIIT is when the body works very hard for about 30 to 60 seconds, which is then followed by a rest or lower intensity period for twice that long. This type of aerobic exercise tends to boost the metabolism and help speed up fat loss.

Also make fun, new goals to help motivate the process and reduce the risk of potential boredom. Wanting to run a 5K? What about that accomplishing that first pull-up? Now is the time to reach such goals!

Reason #3: You are overdoing it.

More is not always better, especially when it comes to exercising. In fact, overtraining and overworking the muscles and body can stall and even prevent from any noticeable improvements.

Because the truth of the matter is, recovery is just as essential as the workout itself. How? During strenuous exercise, muscle tissues breakdown. And in order to rebuild, recovery grants the opportunity for muscles to build, all while preventing the risk of injury.

According to the American Council of Exercise, common signs of overtraining include decreased performance, increased perceived effort during workouts, excessive fatigue, insomnia or restless sleep, loss of appetite, chronic or nagging injuries, and psychological stress.

How to Beat the Fitness Plateau:

Fortunately, there are ways to beat through this fitness plateau and lower the risk of developing overtraining signs.

Start by giving the body the rest and recovery it needs to safely and effectively reach the results you are working towards. Allow for “rest” days at least a couple times each week. And if feeling the hankering for a workout, participate in active recovery (https://www.builtlean.com/2013/01/21/active-recovery-workout-ideas/) through a leisurely walk, yoga, or any other activity that is less in intensity and volume compared to routine workouts.

Also pay attention to your body. If it feels overly exhausted, and rather than forcing a strenuous workout, give it the rest it is yearning for. And do not forget the importance of sleep! Not only inadequate shuteye impede on muscle recovery, but lower energy needed to carryout workouts and heighten sensations of hunger.

Reason #4: You need the assistance of a personal trainer.

Of course you can exercise and reap the anticipated results, but sometimes it is important to consult and accept the assistance of a personal trainer.

Not only are personal trainers knowledgeable in creating effective workout routines for individualized goals, but ensure they are being completed in a safe fashion.

How to Beat the Fitness Plateau:

Seek out a personal trainer in your area, whether it be at a local gym or community center or through a friend recommendation.

Their use is often dependent on your own personal preference, but often recommended when first beginning a workout regimen, especially if new to exercise.

Reason #5: Your diet might need some attention.

Just as continuously doing the same repetitive movements, eating the same caloric value and monotonous diet can halt progress.

And especially if weight loss is the motivating factor, there is much truth to the statement, “You cannot out run a poor diet.” On the other hand, underfueling can cause the body to hold onto the calories it is offered. And if looking to gain muscle, you may not be consuming enough protein and calories necessary to build it.

How to Beat the Fitness Plateau:

Nutrition recommendations vary based on goals, including whether you want to maintain, lose, or gain it.

But whatever the motivating factor, journaling food intake and placing the focus on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean and plant-based proteins, and healthy fat sources can be helpful.

Much like a personal trainer, a Registered Dietitian can help create a personalized plan to address needs and preferences and guide you to reach your personal goals! A meal delivery service can also help ensure nutritional needs are being met during your health journey.

Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on January 22, 2019.

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