One of the greatest joys of working out is actually seeing the progress you’ve made. However, the unfortunate plight of a fitness fanatic is hitting a workout plateau or, in other words, a decline in results.
Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Before you throw in the towel, try these expert-approved tips to break out of your fitness rut.
Set your mind to it
Fitness plateaus happen to everyone (even professional athletes) and one of the first things you should do to break free from it is to check in with yourself. “Know that pushing forward won’t be comfortable, but it can be done,” says Cary Williams, an Olympic level coach and the CEO of Boxing & Barbells. “Prep your mind for change and be mentally prepared to follow through.”
Change your schedule
Changing your workout schedule or the duration of your workouts can help you break out of a plateau, according to Williams. “Adding 30 more minutes can do the trick,” she says. If you normally tackle your workout first thing in the morning, try adding in a 30-minute workout after work or before bed. “You’ll be surprised what will happen by just adding in a little more workout time.”
Try a different type of exercise
You might hear this one a lot, but that’s because it works. When you do the same kind of workout all the time, your body adjusts and winds up using less energy to get the same movement done. Are you a runner? Try jumping rope or going to a barre class. If you usually do spin, incorporate long walks or boxing classes.
Increase the intensity of your workout
More reps and less rest might help you up the ante, especially if your schedule is jam-packed and you can’t add extra time to your fitness routine. “For a weight training workout where you usually do 10 reps of an exercise in about 30 seconds, try getting in 12 reps within those 30 seconds and cut down your rest time by half,” Williams suggests. “You’re sure to change your body.”
Get enough sleep
“One of the best things you can do to break through a plateau is to concentrate on your sleep,” says Christina Friedman, the founder of Women’s Fitness HQ. “Realistically, most people need the traditional eight hours a night, and failing to get enough sleep can really affect your gains.”
Try a “de-load” week
Contrary to popular belief, cutting back can actually help you push through a plateau. “De-load weeks are when you lower the intensity, reps, sets, or total workouts you’re performing in a week to allow your body the chance to fully recover,” online coach Emma Green explains. “I recommend taking a de-load every four to six weeks if you’re training hard. Schedule these weeks so they fit in with times when you have lots of life stuff going on and don’t want to be spending as long in the gym.”
Eat more food
You may be eating less if you’re working toward a healthy weight loss goal. However, it’s possible you might not be eating enough to fuel your activity. “As you get stronger and have been training longer, your workouts will take more fuel to recover from. As you build muscle, your body also needs more calories to support that muscle tissue,” Green says. “Try bumping up your daily intake to see if that helps you start making progress again.”
Find a workout buddy
They say that two is better than one – and when it comes to working out, that couldn’t be truer. “Find a buddy who will keep you accountable! If you both make a schedule, stick to it, and keep each other in check to get back into the groove,” says Jenn Lacy, the co-owner of The Bar Method in Silver Lake, California.
Ever wonder if warming up before a workout actually matters? Here’s why you should always stretch before a workout.
xx, The FabFitFun Team