Overcoming a plateau is difficult no matter who you are, and I wanted to share some of the ways I've been semi-successful at doing so. Plateaus happen to all of us: You get in a good workout groove, and then you hit the proverbial brick wall.
Before you think of ways to overcome a plateau, first think about why you're feeling stuck in the first place. Are you bored of your regimen? Has your weight loss stalled? Are you having trouble maintaining your progress in the weight room? Are you feeling overwhelmed at work?
A plateau can result from any of the above reasons and many more. Here are some of the ways I've worked through mine:
- Take a break. I just took a solid week off to travel for the Fourth of July holiday. Instead of exercising for 60 to 120 minutes six days a week as I usually do, I put in about an hour of cardio plyo one day and did a 5K fun run on another. I was afraid to take all that rest, but upon returning to the gym today, I've never felt stronger. Some fitness professionals swear by a recovery week every couple of months in which they don't work out at all.
- Switch it up. If you typically do cardio inside, head outside. If you usually stick to fitness DVDs, purchase a guest pass at a local gym and take a group class. If you prefer to walk around your neighborhood, try doing a local hike. Replace your standard weightlifting exercises with new ones that use the same muscles. I despise running, but I like using beach runs to break out of cardio boredom.
- Check your diet and lifestyle. When I'm in a plateau, I'm usually not eating well -- eating too little protein -- or not sleeping as much as I should. Enjoy your food, but remember that you've got to help fuel your body so it can work for you. Similarly, take care of yourself, and recognize when you need to dial back your extracurricular activities and commitments.
- Have fun. Sign up for a fun run, or get some friends together for kickball or beach volleyball. While you're still technically exercising, it won't feel like it. Sometimes a dose of fun is just what I need to refuel my engine.
Note: This is the latest installment of an ongoing series. Peruse the ever-growing archive here.