Workout not working out? It’s possible you’ve hit a plateau
If you’ve been consistently working out and not hit a plateau, congratulations, you’re one of a few! However, this isn’t the case for everyone and for most people, this is when there’s a halt in muscle gain, strength increase, and overall performance. One of the things that is so frustrating about hitting a plateau is that it could be caused by a few reasons and it might be difficult to pinpoint.
Hitting a plateau happens when your body becomes used to the stress that you’re putting it through by weight training. Additionally, your body can also become used to your calorie intake. This happens in cases where your metabolism requires more calories to build muscles but you don’t adjust your calorie intake. Nonetheless, there are a few things that can point to hitting that plateau and we’re here to help.
One of the signs that points to hitting a plateau or beginning to ‘overtrain’ is experiencing an overall feeling of loss in strength. What this means is that you can’t lift as heavy as you used to, and this points to your body not recovering like it used to. Recovery is important because that is how you grow your muscles.
There’s no shame in losing motivation. It happens to the best of us and can be influenced by personal issues, losing interest or even illness. A great way to keep yourself motivated is to sit down and write out the reasons why you want to get past this plateau. Reasons can range from weight loss, maintaining a healthy lifestyle or wanting to lower your cholesterol. Another way to keep yourself motivated is to get a workout buddy! You’ll both keep each other responsible and you’re less likely to skip going to the gym or yoga class so you won’t let your friend down.
No progress after at least two workouts
When you’re trying to build muscle, it’s important that you achieve progress while working out consistently. It doesn’t have to be super obvious but it needs to be enough to grow. ‘Growth’ in this context means a few extra reps when you bench press or being able to lift five percent more than the last workout. This way of challenging yourself leads to new muscle formation and of course, this must be coupled with diligent training, eating the right amount of calories and allowing your body to recover.
If you’re starting to feel grumpy and down about training where you have to drag yourself to the gym, it’s a sign that you need to take a break. When we’re stressed or when we overwork our bodies, cortisol is released. Cortisol is a hormone that works against muscle building. The best thing to do before burning out, take a break from the gym. If you’re having a bad day, that’s alright because it happens to the best of us but if this bad attitude drags on for more than two workouts, take a break and maybe try another workout.
How to bust that plateau
- Planned recovery week – Did you know that muscles are built when you’re resting and refueling? When you’re working out, your body is actually breaking down muscle and when you eat right and rest properly, new muscles are being built in its place. Take around four to seven days off every six to eight weeks of intensive training!
- Increasing your exercise intensity because your metabolic rate slows down as you lose weight. Resistance training has been shown to be an effective type of exercise for weight loss. If you’re working out once a week, increase this to twice or thrice a week but do be mindful of any aches and pains and stop if you don’t feel well.
- Track your food intake because although you think you’re not eating that much, this may be why you’re plateauing. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to record all your calories and macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates and find out how much you’re eating and afterwards, modify it if needed.
- Ingesting protein boosts your metabolic rate more than fats or carbohydrates. Protein digestion increases your calorie burning by 20 to 30 percent which is more than twice as much as carbohydrates or fats.
- Manage your stress levels because it can really put a damper on your weight loss journey. Stress can also trigger food cravings and comfort eating. Try stress-reduction strategies such as meditating or even switch up your exercise routine and incorporate relaxing exercises such as yoga and taichi.