Bust through your plateau
If you feel like you're doing the right thing in the gym, but you're not losing any weight, it could be time for a rethink. Photo: Quentin Jones
Hitting your training plateau is like bumping into that glass ceiling at work – it's frustrating, seemingly invisible, and difficult to overcome.
But you can shatter that plateau if you make some changes in your training and lifestyle. Thoreau once said 'Things do not change; we change,' And that is true in the gym and the kitchen. Whether you're strength training, running, or just trying to lose some weight, breakthrough your plateau with the 9 tips below.
If you are looking to increase strength, altering your sets and reps might not be enough. Try these three tips:
1. Rest and rejuvenate – If you're pushing some serious weights, a week off from strength or hypertrophy training is a vacation for your body. Take a week off and let your muscles repair. However, don't use this rest time as an excuse for a week on the booze. Instead employ some active rest – go for some hikes, do some yoga, and get plenty of sleep. Your body will come back stronger.
2. Work surrounding muscles – If you're no longer progressing with activities such as the bench press, it could be that your secondary movers are weak (triceps and shoulders). Scale down your sets and reps on the bench and instead isolate your shoulders and triceps to build strength, then head back to the bench press and break through your one rep max.
3. Strengthen your grip – Fat Gripz are pretty new in Australia, and by widening the barbell/dumbbell, some experts believe they can target your weakest link - your forearms and grip.
Can't break your best time in the City2Surf or the half/full marathon? Then change the way you train. Many runners train by hitting the pavement for a fixed distance at a constant speed, but you need to mix it up if you want to break your runner's plateau. Here's how:
1. French physiologist Veronique Billat developed a type of high intensity interval training to give a VO2max boost called '30-30'. At a speed which you could hold for 6 minutes in race conditions, run for 30 seconds, then bring it down to a jogging pace for 30 seconds. Repeat up to 20 times, or until you cannot hold your fast pace any longer.
2. Stair running and hill running strengthens the muscles in your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. If you're solely running on flat surfaces, hitting the hills and stairs will increase your anaerobic performance and also improve your lactate tolerance.
3. Running does not give you a free pass from the weight room. Squats, lunges, and deadlifts will strengthen your legs, and strengthen you as a runner.
If you feel like you're doing the right thing in the gym and the kitchen, but you're not losing any weight, it could be time to rethink your strategy.
1. In the gym, if you're only doing cardio, then mix in some weights. If you're only doing weights, then start running. Swim, cycle, play tennis, do some fitness classes, or anything else you enjoy. The idea is to mix it up. The body will stay the same unless you throw something new at it.
2. Sometimes it takes a little bit of pain to bring about the biggest change, so it's time to increase the intensity of your workouts. Whatever you do to sweat out some calories, make sure you're doing it with intensity.
3. Change to a healthier diet. Not many Australians eat the daily, required amount of fruit and vegetables and most still consume too much sugar, alcohol, and processed food. If your weight is stuck, examine your diet and where you can make better choices for your body.
Some medical professionals feel motivation is far more important than education in reversing obesity. So while we all inherently know what to do, the motivation to get it done is lacking. If you're at your weight, strength, or running plateau, it's time to re-commit, find your inspiration, and motivate yourself to busting through and reaching new goals.
Have you hit a plateau in your health and fitness goals? How did you overcome it?