Four Ways to Smash through a Plateau
Let’s face it:
During your journey on the quest for a stronger, fitter & healthier body, sooner or later…..
You are going to eventually hit a sticking point.
This feared phenomenon is known as a PLATEAU.
It happens when your progress declines or stagnates, such as you going from losing weight consistently to being stuck at certain number.
Or you go from adding weight to the bar every week & getting stronger, to a point that you no longer add anymore weight and get stuck which sucks, because turning into a ball of a fury like the hulk does not make you stronger.
So despite your best efforts and doing all the right things that have worked so far….
You now question yourself: “Is it worth all your time & energy to continue?”
I’m here to tell you of course it is.
When you think about quitting, Think about why you started it in the first place.
Then, use some of the breakthrough ways I have decided to put together to help you steer clear of plateaus when they come, putting you back on the path of making progress.
Perhaps you are already familiar with plateaus and have gone through a few yourself.
Maybe you are experiencing it now & feel clueless on what to do next, feeling destined to a purgatory of perpetual plateauing.
But fear not!
Plateauing is inevitable for everyone at some point if you continue at something long enough.
Do not let this discourage you.
HOW you respond to a plateau will ultimately determine your level of success in breaking through to the next level!
1. Rule out whether you have truly hit a plateau or not
So you think you have hit a plateau?
More often than not, plateaus are simply issues of CONCENTRATION IN DISGUISE.
Take a moment to review if you are actually are following your plan.
And if not, what has changed?
Maybe you have relaxed a little bit…..
A few drinks here & there have crept back in?
Or maybe you are cutting back on sleep
So you can stay up later & watch the end of season finale of your favourite TV show?
Sometimes it’s those (what seems) minor changes
That result in your so called ‘Plateau’
And once removed you are on track again
2. Get back to Basics
Okay so you are still not sure if you have truly hit a plateau or not
Regardless, your expectations are not being met
You have two options to choose from in how you respond
- Blame your circumstances, be resentful of others who are achieving at the level you want, tell yourself about how entitled you are because of the time & energy you have invested, & simply use all of this as a justification to quit
- Accept the reality for what it is & learnt to adapt, improvise & overcome by measuring, tracking & improving until you can identify a solution
The first option is the trap most people find themselves in.
I want you to take onboard the second option.
This means you will have to reassess your meals, current workouts & recovery.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I tracking my meals?
Start paying attention to what you are consuming on a daily basis.
More often than not, you may think you are doing great.
That is, until you realise that after a few weeks of consistent dedication you have started slacking off & slipping back into old habits.
Rededicate yourself by tracking all your meals for at least the next two weeks.
This should include addressing your food choices & portion sizes (including all meals/snacks/drinks).
Track as much detail as you can (time you ate, where you were how you felt before/afterwards)
This might mean getting yourself a diary, or downloading food tracking apps such as:
http://www.calorificapp.com/ *For those who don’t like counting calories
Am I tracking my workouts?
Honestly what have your workouts been like lately?
Have you been skipping that last set or rep?
Leaving an exercise out because you didn’t feel like it that day?
Or even getting bored with your workouts & find yourself wanting to go home?
Tracking your workouts will tell you a lot in which direction you are heading.
I want you to track every Exercise, Set, Rep & workout for the next two weeks.
If you are lucky to be a member of The Body Consultants
You can use our fantastic app
Total Body Consulting found both on iOS & Android platforms.
Ask your trainer about setting you up.
Am I giving my body enough rest & recovery?
You may be eating right & exercising religiously, but are you getting enough sleep/recovery?
This aspect is usually the one most people skip out on.
Lack of sleep in particular leads to increased levels of stress.
Less time for the body to regenerate & repair, & more…..
Such as the direct effect on your energy levels to train hard & follow a food plan.
You should be striving for at least 7-9hrs of quality sleep.
Don’t let sleep become the backburner.
3. Continually Evolve
Remember the human body is an incredibly complex piece of machinery.
It is a master of adaptation, and is capable of quickly adjusting to meet demands.
This is very applicable to workouts.
If your workouts are not continually evolving to keep up with increases in strength & endurance, plateaus will occur.
The name of the game is progression.
What you can do is the following to ensure you move forward:
- Increase the weight being lifted
- Increase the number of repetitions
- Increase the number of sets
- Increase the number of work being done in a given time period
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise being performed
- Change the speed of the movement executed (Tempo)
This is also why it is advocated to change your routine every 4-6 weeks.
This doesn’t mean you will need to change things drastically.
Just apply some of the principles above & keep your body working.
There are also SHOCK principles that can be used when you have hit a plateau.
Drop-sets, Giant sets, Forced Reps, Partial reps the list goes on……..
However, bare in mind you would use these sparingly and if you are a beginner you most likely don’t need them yet.
Now nutrition is more tricky, as there is no universal agreement in the right approach.
You may have heard of eliminating carbs or cutting out certain food groups.
I certainly do not agree with following these methods, as they are unnecessary & unsustainable in the long term.
I would start with the following:
- Adjust your calorie requirements
- Get accurate with food portion sizes
- Ensure meeting fluid requirements
- Address food sensitivities
4.Change your Expectations & Focus on small victories
When you hit a plateau ,you will find out how committed you really are.
Just like a new training or nutrition plan starts out exciting & fun, it gets harder & less fun as it goes along and progress starts to really slow down, sometimes hitting a low point.
Where you feel stuck or stalled that’s because progress at a consistent pace will eventually slow down.
This can feel like a plateau that’s because linear progression cannot continue indefinitely.
For example if you learn to squat & start with just the bar, adding 2.5 kgs each week will eventually reach a point where you cannot add more weight.
If it did work like that, in roughly three years you would be squatting over 450kg!
Sign me up please!
At this point you may to slightly adjust your expectations.
Maybe this week you could add 1kg?
Or get an extra rep in?
So how do you stay motivated & keep going?
You shift your focus on SMALL VICTORIES.
Also, always find a way to get better everyday.
- Finished my workout within 45 minutes = Victory
- Met my macros for the day = Victory
- Added a yoga class to my routine = Victory
- Learnt a new recipe = Victory
So if this is you, I want you get yourself a journal of some kind.
And at the end of each day, record THREE SMALL VICTORIES for the day.
All the little things add up.
Have enough small victories, and it may be enough to bust through a plateau.
Stay inspired & remain hungry.
Remember you are only truly at plateau if you allow yourself to dwell in it.
If you would like to talk more about breaking through plateaus, or simply want to move forward & make a transformation, contact me:Dave@thebodyconsultants.com .
I would love to get you started in the right direction.
Dave ‘Don’t Quit’ Buck