How to Overcome an Exercise Plateau
As PT Carly Yue explained in our last blog post, an exercise routine that becomes boring or less challening can lead to an exercise plateau. If you feel as though you've hit a wall with your workouts, Carly's 13 top tips will help you to overcome the phase you're in and give your routine that much needed boost...
Invest in a personal trainer
This is a great option, even if it's just every now and again. Booking a session every 4-6 weeks can be used as a motivational tool, as when you work out alone you can think you're pushing yourself – but training with a PT takes it to a whole new level. A good trainer will inspire you, teach you new tricks, check your form (you'd be surprised how many people have poor form which can hinder progression), and encourage you to push for that last rep or that heavier weight. It's that point when you think you can't push any harder and break out of your comfort zone that the magic begins!
Target your muscles from different angles
As an example, if you always perform your bicep curls standing, take a seat and switch to hammer curls or lie on an incline and use the cables instead. Changing angles and grip can make a huge difference.
Switch up your reps
Try paused-reps, partial-reps or bottom-half-reps to maximise your gains in the full range of motion version. Changing how your reps are performed can help you get through those sticking points and build new levels of strength.
Address your muscular imbalances and weaknesses
Regular massage treatments or using a foam roller can address soft tissue issues. A proper warm-up consisting of light aerobic exercise can not only prepare you for the workout ahead, but can also address range of motion issues. This will add strength and function to your body.
Stop hitting the gym when you're exhausted
If you're just going to the gym and putting in 50%, you're never going to progress or see results. Instead, take a rest day. If you’re tired but still want to train, ensure that you've eaten a meal with carbs and protein, such as sweet potato, cottage cheese, a banana or a pre-workout supplement. These help you to focus, aid endurance to help you push through barriers and give you an energy hit.
Revamp your training programme
Vary your intensity, change up your rest periods, change your rep range, perform your exercises in a different order and take more rest days. Or, if you're really serious about progression, consult an expert. Writing your own programmes is unlikely to get you the best results. Don't wing it.
Check your life outside of the gym
Too many late nights, a poor diet and a lack of hydration are all lifestyle factors that will impact your training. You can't out train a poor diet and your body can't repair itself without adequate rest.
You need to make sure that your form is absolutely flawless before adding more weight, or the simple fact is that you'll likely be recruiting the wrong muscles to assist the movement, which will be counter productive. You can't just keep adding weight regardless of your form.
When it come to weight loss, many people tend to do the same exercises because they're comfortable with it, and think that eating less is the way to continue their weight loss. The fact is that the intensity of your workout should go up and your food (which is fuelling the extra work) should remain regular and balanced. The less you eat, the less you can achieve at the gym. The more your metabolism slows to compensate, the more weight you’ll gain long term.
Fuel your fitness
Results are made in the kitchen! As your body changes, your nutritional requirements need to also. If you've gained ten pounds in muscle and have progressed from training four days a week to five, you're going to need to eat more food to continue to progress. Equally if you've lost a lot of weight, your dietary needs will change as your body does.
Many people train without fuelling their body correctly, either by not eating enough or hoping that a poor diet can somehow be compensated for thorough training. As a general rule, aim to eat clean, healthy, natural foods most of the time. Eat a balanced diet of healthy carbohydrates, good fats and protein, drink plenty of water and limit alcohol. Another tip is to ensure that you're aiding recovery post gym by using a protein shake, because the quicker you recover, the harder you can train next time you're at the gym. If you're unsure, contact a professional to review your diet. It's what we are here for!
If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you. Your mind 100% controls your body. The fact is that the more you want to progress, the more mentally tough you must become. As you advance and your body adapts to training, every last push counts. Not only that, but it takes a ton of mental strength to consistently eat well and train hard.
Remember your ‘why’
It’s easy to forget why you started when you're tired, when training hurts and when you have to prepare another meal for work the next day. Ensure that you know why this is important to you. Make goals, stick to them and keep them in the forefront of your mind from the moment you step into the gym – until the moment you leave. This could be a wedding, a photo shoot or simply your health. Everyone has a reason. Find yours!
Believe in yourself
Whether you are someone who is needing to lose weight for health purposes, a competitive bodybuilder making huge lifestyle adjustments, or a mum wanting her pre-baby body back. You can do it, and you will as long as you believe in yourself and your ability to progress. It won't be instant, so you need to stay motivated. Next time you find yourself saying "I don't know if I can do this, I can't do this”, hit the stop button and get into the correct mindset. You'll be surprised at the difference in power, strength, and desire created by positive self-talk. Telling yourself "I can" will help you feel empowered and mentally tough. If you think you can, you can.
Surround yourself with positive people
As your lifestyle changes, so might your community. Rather than surrounding yourself with negativity, find people who are going through the same changes that you are. I've created a team environment with my clients. They are outstanding people who always have good, positive things to say. Their support has made a world of difference to each individual's success. Talking to people who seem happy and are able to find the sun beneath the clouds is great, as is discovering people with drive and ambition who are willing to share it with you. Having people like this in your corner will allow the belief you have in yourself to grow tremendously. Remember, a positive mind equals a positive body![caption id="attachment_641" align="aligncenter" width="150"] Guest post by PT & Media Fitness Expert Carly Yue.[/caption]