Plateaus happen. The word itself would almost considered to be a ‘dirty’ word in the workout community.
But there are ways to avoid them and if you do so happen to find yourself in one, you can bust right through it.
I also teach my classes that a true plateau is when you haven’t had weight loss or inches lost for four consecutive weeks, but I’m here to tell you that we certainly feel like we have reached a plateau long before the calendar tells us we should. We can also experience that lull period in the gym a lot quicker, too.
So why do we even reach a plateau? Why can’t we keep on doing the same thing over and over again and still experience the same benefits as when we started. It’s frustrating to say the least, when you get used to doing something then have to change!
But our bodies are really miraculous creations and for some, plateaus can be a good thing. For example, a baseball player or a quarterback would certainly appreciate reaching a plateau in his career. When this happens is probably when they’re power hitting home runs every time at bat or throwing the perfect touchdown pass in every game.
It’s called Muscle Memory.
Muscle Memory has been used synonymously with motor learning, that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. Examples of muscle memory are found in many everyday activities that become automatic and improve with practice, such as riding a bicycle, typing on a keyboard, typing in a PIN, playing a melody or phrase on a musical instrument. (source)
Now do you see how a sports player could benefit from muscle memory and somewhat reaching a plateau? But if you have other goals in mind such as weight loss or muscle gain, muscle memory and reaching a plateau can threaten your progress.
So now you know what a plateau is, how do you prevent it or get through it? The answer is simple.
One word = change.
Simply change what you’re doing.
If you’re cardio is on the treadmill, switch to the elliptical; if you’re on the elliptical, switch to the treadmill.
If you running longer, higher miles, then run sprints.
Add Tabata or HIIT to your workouts.
Get it? Simply change what you’re doing, confuse your muscles and make them work hard again.
For weight training, the answer is still the same. Change what you’re doing.
Increase your weights.
Decrease your reps.
Increase your sets.
Do different exercises.
Try new machines.
Try free weights.
For eating and weight loss, the answer is? You guessed it! Change.
Try new foods.
Cook foods a different way.
Eat at different times throughout the day.
Drink more water.
Check your portion sizes.
Try new foods. ( I said that already, didn’t I?)
Did I mention try new foods?
For far too long, I’ve reached a plateau with my resistance training. I’ve tried to keep things changing by doing all that I’ve told you, but for the past few weeks I’ve still felt in somewhat of a rut. So what I decided to do is to do workout splits 3 times a week working different muscle groups instead of the 2 times a week doing full body.
This is my second week and so far I love it! I was hesitant at first because I didn’t know if I would have time to workout 3 times a week, but I’m finding I’m not working out as long each time and I can totally focus my efforts better by working each body part separately.
Here is my workout plan for May. I’d love for you to join me!
Now get out there and bust through a plateau!