Results are awesome. There’s nothing like seeing a direct correlation between the work you’ve been doing and the positive outcomes you’re experiencing.
What isn’t awesome however, is when even though you’re still putting in work, those results start to slow, sometimes to a screeching halt. For those of you new to a gym, you’ll likely see a big response to your efforts for about 3 months.
This is also when most people cancel their gym memberships and it’s no coincidence. They get motivated, get a membership, see results, then when the easy results disappear, they get discouraged and disappear until next new year.
Even if you’re completely clueless and just go move around or lift some weights, you’re gonna see changes in your body. This immediate change is because your potential for adaptation, that means the room you have to grow, is massive. Also, the stimulus from exercise is completely new to your body and requires a big change to adapt (thus the results).
After a few months though, your body has made the necessary changes and is now very efficient at doing the type of training you’ve been doing. Now, instead of changing, your body is going to stay the same. This is because your body will not use valuable and expensive biological resources to metabolize fat cells or generate new muscle tissue, if it is already good at what you’re making it do every day.
Unless you change your training, you’ll be stuck in the same place forever. That said, the biggest mistake made is how individuals change their training. Their focus is always more and not different.
It might seem logical that if you train harder, run more, and eat to a greater extreme, you’ll see more results. That pervasive misunderstanding couldn’t be farther from the truth. This type of philosophy towards training will likely cause you’re metabolism to slow, your body to cling to fat and refuse to build muscle, and your potential to gain back body fat to grow exponentially.
So, what in the world are you supposed to do? Two words; Progressive overload.
Here are 5 things you can change to break or prevent training plateaus:
Frequency - that is, how often you workout. Keeping all other things consistent, adding a day or two of workouts could be what you need to convince your body to change. Changing this variable should be your last resort though. Sometimes yes, you do need to be doing more but, that is a dangerous game to start playing due to the potential negative metabolic and hormonal effects. Try adjust the other 4 variables first.
Intensity - No, not how hardcore you train but rather, the weight you use in your weight training (if you’re not prioritizing weight training, stop reading this article, we’ve found your key to further progression). If you aren’t changing your rep ranges, you’re robbing yourself of potential results. If you typically training at 10-15 reps, try increasing the weight (intensity) and dropping to 5-6 reps per set. This is what I see most people needing in their routines.
Time - Your rest times are another great variable to manipulate in your training. If you’re only resting 0:30 seconds between heavy sets, you’re not going to be able to give the effort needed to grow. Conversely, if you’re resting for 3:00 and training with light weight, well, you aren’t sending a very strong signal to your body to change. Try changing your rest times, keeping all other things consistent. Time can also refer to the amount of time you spending doing each rep (slow vs. fast reps).
Type - Training type can mean the difference between doing cardio, mobility, or weight training and can also be more specific meaning your weight training consists of circuits or supersets instead of straight sets. Adding in a new type of training will cause your body to respond in a new way (aka new results).
Volume - Again, this one falls low on the list of things to change. Volume refers to the amount of sets you do in a workout. This variable is dependent on the former 4 variables, however, and shouldn’t be changed if you change one of the others also.
There are actually more training variables than these, and dozens more when we talk about nutrition, sleep, hydration, and lifestyle but, adjusting one of the above variables will likely change your body!
Lastly, even if you make these changes correctly, your body will again adapt and progress will slow again (likely in 3-6 weeks). Don’t freak out though! All this means is it is time to change another variable and watch for the corresponding progress!
This can be a pretty complex equation and a very frustrating one as well. If you’re a little confused, have more questions, or just want someone to help you make the right changes, be sure to stop in or message Uplift Fitness! We love helping our community make positive changes to their health.
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