Imagine you are hitting the gym most days and eating a clean diet - then suddenly the dreaded workout plateau kicks in. Suddenly, your progress comes to a halt and you’re not seeing any benefits.
While most of us hit a plateau at some point, here’s what causes a workout plateau and how you can overcome it to ensure you continue taking your fitness to the next level.
What is a workout plateau?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term “Plateau” refers to a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
Our bodies are the masters of adaptation. No matter your fitness level or physical shape, your body can adapt to a specific routine in as little as four weeks. You may stop progressing in your workouts by not increasing weight to your sets, or perhaps you’re having trouble adding reps to your sets. It’s important to identify the root cause to ensure you give yourself a plan to put into action straight away.
Signs You Have Hit a Plateau
There are common tell-tale signs you have hit a workout plateau or have entered into an overtraining phase.
- Loss In Strength
When you’ve been following a program or hitting the gym consistently, a loss in strength is a common sign of hitting a plateau. If you notice a significant decrease in your performance and you’re not able to lift the weight you once could a few weeks ago, your body is telling you it isn’t recovering properly. When you gain strength in the gym, you need to take more measures to let your muscles recover properly to grow more muscle tissue. This can be achieved through supplements and active recovery.
- No progress
When you’re starting a strength program or gym protocol, you should be tracking weight lifted throughout each muscle group. If you’re not progressing at least 5% over a few weeks, this is a big sign your body has reached a plateau. If you’re only struggling on a few exercises, you might need to change the specific exercises that target that muscle group, but if it’s all exercises, it’s time to change it up.
There could be two main reasons for the plateau. Either you’re not eating enough calories to help you grow, or it’s time to change up your training. If you think it might be from your nutrition, learn how to track your macros properly to make sure you are eating enough. It’s essential to make sure you are fuelling your body with enough nutrients your body needs, especially if you’re going hard in the gym. If you think it might be time to change your routine, explore some training programs designed to get you long-term results.
- Lack of Motivation
One of the other main reasons for hitting a plateau is a lack of motivation. When your body is tired, fatigued and you don’t feel like hitting the gym to lift heavy weights, your brain tricks you into thinking you don’t want to train. Your body is telling you to change up your training routine.
How to Break Through a Plateau
It’s important to recognise the signs of a plateau to make a plan for the future. Here are some recommendations you can take to overcome a plateau.
Makes Changes to Your Current Program
If you’ve been following a program for a few months and you’re not seeing changes, it’s time to change it up. When you change weights, reps, the number of sets, and intensity, you encourage a “training response” to occur.
Check your Nutrition
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects in your fitness program, if not the most important. You must ensure you’re getting enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet.
Macros (short for macronutrients) are protein, carbohydrate, and fat. These three nutrients all have different functions in the body, but one thing they have in common is that they all provide us with energy (calories/kilojoules).
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories (17 kilojoules)
1 gram of protein = 4 calories (17 kilojoules)
1 gram of fat = 9 calories (37 kilojoules)
1 gram of alcohol = 7 calories (29 kilojoules)
Tracking macros is not essential to your success. In fact, we don’t encourage everyone to track macros as we’ve seen time and time again that people can achieve amazing results just by following their nutrition and training plan. With that being said, knowing how to track your macros can be beneficial over the long term.
Work With An Expert
If you’ve been trying to progress on your fitness journey and you’ve been stagnant for some time, it’s time to call in the experts. An online program will not only get you the results you’ve been looking for, but you will also gain lifelong knowledge and be a part of a supportive community.
Review Your Lifestyle
You might be hitting the gym consistently and sticking to your nutrition plan, but the weekends let you down. We’re talking about indugling in alcohol and unhealthy foods. This potentially could be a major cause for a workout plateau. It’s important to implement healthy lifestyle changes outside of the gym.
The Bottom LineWhen you recognise the signs of a workout plateau, the easier it is to avoid in the future or make a plan to overcome one. It’s important to choose a program designed to challenge you. You’ll find it’s easy to attain long-term results without a major plateau.