There’s not much that’s more frustrating than watching your fitness regimen suddenly stop working. A fitness plateau, defined as a state of little or no change following periods of activity or progress, is a natural part of developing a workout routine but it’s one that can throw even the most devoted athletes right off their game. So what do you do when your routine loses steam? Peloton instructor Matt Wilpers lays out a simple five-step process to help you break through. We’ll see you on the other side.
Step 1: Define the Workout Plateau
In your own words, write down what your plateau is. What changes do you expect to see that you are not seeing? What do you need to feel excited about working out again? Defining your problem is the first step in making a plan to solve it.
Step 2: Understand Why it Happened
The simplest answer is, your workout stopped working because you were working out. The fitness results that we seek are adaptations that our body makes to stimuli, and when our body becomes adjusted to that stimuli, those changed slow down or even stop entirely. The adaptations (or changes in fitness) that you want to see may take shorter or longer depending on how well you optimize our training around the principles of training, which include:
- Progressive Overload – It takes a progressively stronger stimulus (or stress) to provoke the same physiological response over time. To create the necessary overload, changes can occur via training frequency, intensity, and/or duration. If you’ve been changing one factor for a while, it might be time to try another.
- Individuality – Everyone responds differently to the stress of training. What works for your friend or neighbor may not work for you.
- Reversibility – Adaptations can be lost if the stimulus is too infrequent, emphasizing the need for consistent training. Don’t change too much too soon.
Step 3: Review Your Training and Set Your Goals
Are your goals/expectations realistic? We all have professional and personal demands on our time and energy. If your goals don’t take into consideration the following demands, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
- Are you undertraining or overtraining? If your workout sessions are too short and infrequent, or if you work out too often or too long, you may need more variation.
- Are you recovering? Many athletes make the mistake of pushing too hard on easy days and not hard enough on hard days. Push yourself to the max knowing you’ve built in time to truly recover.
- Are you varying your training? Incorporating different types of exercise and at different intensities is important so that you maintain balance and allocate adequate time for recovery.
- Does your nutrition support your goals? If your eating doesn’t complement your fitness goals, you’ll sabotage your fitness gains. Learn how to fuel properly to set your body up for successful workouts.
- Are outside stresses affecting your progress? Whether they’re physical or mental, stress can prevent you from seeing results. If you’re not getting enough sleep or don’t have enough time to devote to a program, you may not be able to move forward.
Step 4: Get Organized and Excited
Develop a roadmap that gets you excited! Knowing what your goal is and what you’ve done thus far to achieve it, develop a new plan for success that excites you! Plan fun workouts, schedule fitness vacations, join teams, etc. The key is to have a plan from where you are now to where you want to be, by when, and make it as detailed as possible. Then, go the extra mile and make it fun!!
Step 5: Get Help
Whether it is your friends, family, or coach, get others involved and invested in your success.
Gather and analyze your performance data: There is nothing more fun than watching your success develop every day. Get in the habit of tracking your performance data and celebrating milestones! You will find yourself wanting to achieve specific results during every session just so that you can see the data afterward.
Monitor and modify your training: Life happens, but we adapt! If you hit a speed bump in your plan, learn to modify your plan or goals and then getting refocused. Avoid getting frustrated and throwing everything away.