The dreaded plateau. We’ve all been there; you made a plan, formulated steps 1-10, you’re motivated, positive and excited about achieving your goals.
From stages 1-4 you saw gains and a transformation almost immediately, meeting your targets was easy. Yes lets go!
Now we’re at steps 4 & 5, we’re stuck and seeing limited, or in some cases even ceased improvement. It’s disheartening putting in the effort but still seeing a lack of progress and this can leave you feeling defeated.
But hang on, You’re not alone! Plateaus can afflict amateurs, professionals, strength based athletes and cardio based athletes. Even weight loss based goals are not exempt from the dreaded plateau.
…Unless those afflicted instil the necessary and pretty easy preventatives.
Many accept that plateaus are the norm, you may even have been told the common adage from your training buddies: ‘just keep going and doing what you’re doing, you’ll see results eventually.’
True, you will.
But who wants the demoralising ‘eventually’, when there’s a better option that is easier and more effective?
I cannot believe the results i've achieved in 8 weeks. Ive dropped 5kg and feeling really positive about my body and a positive mentality. Sara from Ireland.
What!? but I carefully researched the exercises I needed, I even took professional advice and it was working!?
Exactly the point, it WAS working, but the human body is exceptionally adaptable and yours has quickly adjusted to the meet the needs of your regular workout. What was once challenging is now easy (something you may have already noticed yourself) and thus ineffective for taking you to the next level of your goals.
OK OK, I get the idea but what’s the answer then?
To avoid plateaus the key is to continuously challenge your body by utilising specific workout adaptations that match your goals. Avoid this common set back and in some cases even fast track your progress by keeping your workouts evolving as your strength and endurance increases. Keep your body sharp and avoid it becoming accustomed and inefficiently adapted by consistently and strategically changing your workouts.
Consider utilising periodisation. Commonly used by all types of athletes to avoid plateaus, periodisation is a carefully planned training progression that breaks up your workout period with different cycles each with their own training objectives. For example, you could break your year up into a number of cycles with each cycle focusing on one aspect of your fitness goals from strength, to endurance, to speed or muscle tone.
In regards to the goal of increased muscle size and strength you could increase and vary the intensity of your workouts but without necessarily increasing the length of time spent in the gym. For example, you could vary the weight, rep numbers or set numbers from your usual routine. Furthermore, changing the order and type of exercises may also be effective so you could replace bench presses with weighted push ups or dumbbell presses for instance.
Plateaus in your cardio training can also be avoided and eliminated by varying the type of workout. If you commonly run, perhaps switch to the bike, or try one of the different pre set running programmes on the treadmill if that’s likely to be more of a challenge. Even attending classes like a spin or a boxercise class can be a very effective and powerful tool for improving your cardiovascular endurance and avoiding the most common plateaus. Joining in with these sorts of workouts can be a great pairing as you may even find yourself having boosted confidence and interest in working out, making those goals seem even easier and increasingly achievable.
Planned and interesting variation not only stops natural plateaus but also motivational ones too. By keeping your workouts exciting and engaging you may avoid those ‘self-made’ attitudinal plateaus brought on by boredom. These can really be demoralising and slow your progress towards your goals, especially if they’re brought on by or are in conjunction with the slowed progress of your body adapting.
So in conclusion, be sure to continuously challenge your body and your mindset by incorporating and making use of different routines and workouts that avoid your body adapting. Do this and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating those plateaus and reaching your goals.