Most of us at some point in our fitness journeys have hit a plateau, and if you have not yet… you will! This could be a plateau in weight loss, strength gain, performance goals, a certain way you feel, or any other type of stagnation in your fitness.
First, plateaus are normal and going to happen, it is part of the process. We need to change our mindset around plateaus and understand they are okay, and part of the next stage of mastery. Once you hit a plateau, that means you are exiting the “beginner” phase where you can see results by doing just about anything because it is new and different and your body will adapt. The plateau can be used as a hint that it’s time to level up and take it to the next step!
So how do we get through a plateau?! Well, it really depends on what your specific goal is, the plateau that you are going through, and where you are at in your fitness journey! But, we will go over some of the general big key things that will help you to get through most plateaus.
First thing to consider is MAYBE you are fit enough for your goals and what you need/want from health and fitness! If your goal is simply to feel good, be able to keep up with kids, and be healthy, then you may not need an extremely high level of fitness, or be able to squat hundreds of pounds. The plateau could just be you entering a maintenance phase, meaning you have a high enough level of fitness to match you goals, and now the game is to keep that level for as long as possible as you age. Maintaining a level of fitness for a long period of time is a WAY overlooked aspect of health and fitness! Just because you aren’t improving, doesn’t mean you are getting worse. Being able to keep a relatively high level of fitness consistent for years and years is amazing, even though you may not necessarily be improving any number or metrics! Now, let’s get into some ways we can break through plateaus if you find you need to for your specific goal:
- Dial in the other 23 hours of the day. This could be sleep, nutrition, recovery, being more active during the day, or a combination of all of these! If you workout 1 hour a day, that is awesome, but it gives you 23 other hours to screw it all up with poor sleep, diet, recovery, or being lazy. Making small improvements in these areas could be the little kick you body needs to start producing those results again. The more fit you become, the more you will HAVE to dial these things in to continue getting results.
- Another way to train through a plateau may be increasing the training volume. When you start brand new, you can get awesome results from 2-3 days per week. Once those begin to slow down, it may be time to kick it up to 4-5 days per week and exercise more! If you have the other 23 hours of the day dialed in and you are working out 4+ days per week, then number 3 is your key….
- CONSISTENCY!!! This is the most boring one, but results take time. Everyone is different, but consistency is king. You have to do the hard things over and over and over again for months and years to get the results you want AND continue to work forever to keep those results. A great quote is “Fitness is never owned, it’s rented. And rent is due everyday!” This is where I see most people fail once they have the right routines in place… simply not doing it long enough.
- Lastly, if you have a very specific area that you are noticing the plateau in, it may be time for you to get on a specific program and focus more on just that one thing. This is where learning what your goals are can be very helpful! If you come to realize your main goal is strength, and you notice a plateau in lifting numbers, then it might be time to do a lifting cycle and really dedicate extra time specifically to that area.
Written By: Coach Seth