By Keith Hodges
With the New Year approaching, the resolution crowd is gearing up to attack their goals. Gyms will be overcrowded, and you may have to wait to use a piece of equipment, however very few will reach their goals. Why? Unfortunately, not everyone has the discipline to remain consistent and break through the mental and physical plateaus in order to reach their goals.
What is a fitness plateau?
A fitness plateau is a stage an individual goes through when they reach a sticking point. The progress in your physique seems to come to a halt, and you lose motivation. This can be due to doing the same workout routine, not incorporating progressive overload principles, not eating properly for your current workout routine, or getting inadequate sleep to recover from your fitness efforts. Your body becomes accustomed to the demands you have placed upon it, and as a result, you’ve hit the wall and lost motivation. This is when many individuals break their good habits, and some even quit.
Switch up your routine
Our bodies possess the ability to adapt. Constantly performing the same workout routine will lead to a plateau. Change your workout split through periodization, and make sure you add progressive overload techniques to place new demands on your body, forcing it to adapt and push through those plateaus. Don’t be afraid to hire a trainer or take workout classes. They’ll introduce you to new training methods, increase the intensity of your training sessions, and provide encouragement to combat the mental barriers you may be facing.
We’ve all heard “nutrition is 80% of the game.” It also plays a huge role in breaking through plateaus. You have to eat according to your goals. If your body isn’t changing, you may have to change your nutrition. You may not be hydrating with enough water. You may have to cut back on calories or up your protein intake.
In some cases, you may not be eating enough. You can also try carb cycling to aid your leptin and ghrelin levels. Every workout program should be coupled with a nutrition program to optimize performance and decrease your chance of hitting a plateau.
During sleep, we release hormones that help our bodies recover. Inadequate sleep doesn’t allow the parasympathetic nervous system to do its job. Therefore, we remain in more of a flight or fight the state for more extended periods, and our nervous system becomes unbalanced. The PNS allows our body to relax, lowers heart rate to stimulate muscle recovery, and of course, allows for a much deeper sleep. Adequate amounts of sleep allow the muscles to repair, growing bigger and stronger. We also burn calories while sleeping, which leads to a decrease in body fat.