Change It Up

OVERCOMING PLATEAUS

Change Is good

After exercising for several months, you may experience dramatic changes. However, after awhile you might not notice additional changes or gains.

You’ve hit a plateau or a halt in your progress. A plateau in physical activity is exactly like what you usually think of as a plateau – things progress upward for awhile and then they level off.

Plateaus aren’t necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking to maintain your fitness level; however, if you think you have gains to make, plateaus can be a barrier.

Below are five ways to overcome a plateau.

1. STAY ON TRACK

Record your daily physical activity

In addition to logging your steps on to the Fit Minded website, consider purchasing a journal in which you can:

  • Plan your weekly/daily workouts.
  • Document changes to your workouts.
  • Journal about how you feel after your workout and about what challenges you faced in meeting your goals. This will help you adjust your upcoming workouts and goals.
  • Include an entry to summarize your week. How did you meet your goals among challenges? What do you want to achieve next week?
  • Use the workout card to help you manage your daily, weekly, and monthly workouts.

2. PHYSIOLOGICAL ADAPTATION

Physiological adaptation refers to the changes your body makes in response to regular physical activity and exercise.

You may feel your legs get stronger or your daily walk become easier, for example. A plateau may be inevitable if you do not consistently progress your activity. Keep in mind that progressions should not be rushed and should not be too big.
Here’s how to keep your body guessing:

Refer to the Get Active section for resistance training exercises and sample workouts for exercise ideas.

Be F.I.T.T. Minded

  • Add one day to the frequency of activity. If you are doing cardiovascular activity twice per week, increase your frequency to 3 times per week.
  • Add weight, speed, or resistance to increase intensity.If you can perform 2 additional repetitions of a particular muscular strength exercise, consider adding weight to increase intensity.
  • Add minutes, exercises, or repetitions to your workout to increase the time. Instead of performing a squat to work the legs, try a squat and a walking lunge to increase the duration of your workout.
  • Try something different to add variety to the types of activities you do. If your main source of physical activity is walking, consider trying something different, like walking on an incline or bicycling to change or add types of activity to your routine.
  • Remember to change only one thing at a time. If you are walking twice a week for 30 minutes, do not increase your frequency to 3 times per week AND your duration to 35 minutes. Pick one, and the next time you are ready to make a small change (1-2 weeks), consider increasing the other to gradually meet your goals.

Consider Cross Training

  • Cross training includes incorporating different types of activities into your weekly routine. Athletes often use cross training to meet fitness and sports-related goals. However, there are several other benefits of cross-training as well.
  • Cross training is a great way to work different muscles and your cardiovascular system in different ways.
  • Training with just one type of activity will allow certain muscles and your heart and lungs to get good at that one thing, while doing different activities will constantly keep your muscles guessing and provide more holistic training.
  • Incorporating different activities is also effective for injury prevention. Muscles and joints used in one particular form of activity can recover during other forms of activity. For example, if you run or walk a lot, you may try swimming or biking to give your joints a rest and to challenge yourself in different ways.

Review Your Resistance Training

  • Change the order of the exercises you are performing.
  • Change the exercises you are doing. Instead of performing a squat to work the legs, try a walking lunge.
  • Change the equipment you are using. Instead of performing bicep curls with free weights, use exercise bands.
  • Change the volume (combination of intensity and duration) for several weeks (4-6). That is, instead of doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions, try 3 sets of 5 repetitions at a heavier weight or 3 sets of 15 at a lighter weight.

3. FLEXIBILITY

If you’re having trouble getting past a plateau, include stretching in your regime.

Flexibility training is not only essential for injury prevention, but it also helps the muscles work more effectively during activities. If you’re having trouble getting past a plateau, including stretching in your regimen may give your muscles the boost they need to tackle F.I.T.T. progressions.

Stretching after a workout or incorporating stretching sessions (or yoga) into your routine can help to combat these barriers, reduce soreness, and offer a method of cross training.

4. COMPETITION & EVENTS

A little friendly competition is healthy and sometimes what we need to motivate us.

Consider training for a competition or participating in a local event (e.g., a run, walk, or triathlon).

The goal ahead of you may help you adjust your training, organize your workouts, and try something new. Just make sure that you plan ahead of the event to train and gradually progress towards your goal to avoid overtraining or injury.

5. OVERTRAINING/FATIGUE

Rest is important too

If your body isn’t getting enough rest between activity bouts or if you’re simply doing too much, your body’s defense mechanism may turn on and plateauing is inevitable.

  • Reassess your regimen and your rest between bouts to get back on track.
  • Progressing any of the F.I.T.T. dimensions too quickly can also contribute to overtraining, so keep your physical activity journal handy to make thoughtful changes to your routine.

Next step

Given a little time, a little thought, and some creativity, you can Avoid Excuses and break barriers to physical activity

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