So you’ve been taking full advantage of your gym membership and have actually been going consistently. Great work! If you’re like most people, however, at some point you might start to feel like you’ve hit a plateau, because you’re no longer seeing the results that kept you motivated in the beginning. It happens. Let’s take a closer look at why plateaus occur and what you can do to avoid them.
Stalled results can be caused by a number of factors, but generally it means your body has adapted to whatever physical stimulus you have been giving it. To experience continuous progress, it is essential to keep both your mind and body guessing, while continuing to fuel your body efficiently. Here are 10 tips for pushing past plateaus:
1. Routine is the enemy.
To really change your body, your training has to be consistently intense and varied. If you do the same class every day, your body is going to adapt. You have to keep creating a challenging stimulus so your body can’t get too accustomed to what you’re giving it. Change happens outside your comfort zone.
2. Strength training is essential.
Stop doing hours of cardio and back-to-back indoor cycling classes. Focus on building lean muscle mass so that your body becomes a lean, mean burning machine. Chronic cardio can actually eat up muscle and increase cortisol levels, causing you to store fat.
3. Increase your intensity.
Perhaps you are diligent about switching up your routine, but still aren’t seeing the results you want. Here’s a possible solution: Lift heavier and/or go faster. Instead of doing a million reps at a low weight, try doing more weight for fewer reps. Similarly, instead of doing your standard run, run a 5K or a mile as fast as you can, or try switching it up with sprints instead.
4. Prioritize protein.
To build lean muscle mass, you must fuel your body with protein to create an anabolic foundation. Eat some high-quality protein with every meal, along with healthy portions of veggies.
5. Ditch the processed foods.
Say no to fake food, and yes to nutrient-dense whole foods. If it comes in a package, a bag or a box, steer clear. And don’t forget that real food doesn’t have ingredients—it IS an ingredient.
6. Tailor your intake to meet your nutritional and caloric needs.
Perhaps you have already dialed in your diet, but are still in a fat-loss slump. Take a closer look at all those bites, nibbles, tastes and snacks you may be mindlessly consuming. Raw nuts, avocado and almond butter are great healthy options, but you still need to keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Your body cannot perform optimally if it doesn’t have sufficient water. While coconut water and tea add to your overall fluid intake, don’t forget to drink plenty of plain water as well to make sure you’re meeting the recommended daily intake.
8. Get enough sleep.
Adequate rest is just as important as nutrition and fitness. If your body doesn’t get the sleep it needs, you simply won’t get the results you want.
9. Don’t overdo it.
Sometimes plateaus show up when we are overtraining. Take a look at your fitness schedule. Are you sore all the time? Do you allow your body to recover by implementing full rest days? Remember, rest days are essential to allow your body to build the lean muscle mass you are working so hard to achieve.
10. Have fun.
The best exercise is the one you are actually going to do. The most important part about any fitness regimen is consistency. Find something you actually enjoy doing and then give it everything you have. Ideally, it becomes a positive outlet that empowers you to be better, both in and out of the gym.