The only thing worse than working out hard for weeks or months and not noticing any results is doing all of that in the middle of winter. You peel yourself out of your warm bed to face the cold, you exercise, and you're still not achieving what you work so hard for. Not fair.
If this situation feels familiar, you might be in the midst of a fitness plateau, wherein the rapid changes you once saw have started to taper off. Rather than giving up on your routine and staying in that warm bed, we suggest the following seven tips for busting through such a lull this winter and beyond.
1. Boost the Intensity
Perhaps you've been lifting the same-sized weight every time you do a specific workout. You might not be seeing results because your muscles don't feel challenged by the weight you're lifting. So, size up and see if you can't escape the plateau that way. You can drop the number of reps as you increase weight too — a low number of reps with a heavier weight forces your muscles to work harder, even if for a shorter period. And those toned arms and legs can break through a plateau for sure!
2. Shuffle the Order
The routine you follow at the gym could be the cause for pause in your gains. When you perform the same weightlifting moves in the same order, your body learns how to deal with the fatigue. But if you switch things up, they'll have to readapt — different muscles will be achy while you work on others, thus making some moves harder than they were before. And all of this could awaken and hone new muscle groups, which is always an impetus for bodily change.
3. Switch up Your Workouts
Perhaps you've gotten into a fitness rut, going through the motions of the same workout you've done for the past several weeks or months. This process could very well be the cause of your plateau, as your muscles are no longer challenged by the same moves done on repeat.
A good rule of thumb is to switch up your routine every six weeks. You can try new classes or re-write your weightlifting plan with different moves meant to target the same areas. They say variety is the spice of life, but it's also a great way to achieve your #bodygoals without a frustrating plateau.
4. Double-Check Your Form
Improper form might be holding you back. Even if you're lifting regularly, you might not be hitting the muscles you think you're working because your form is off. So, scrutinize your methods and make sure everything's right, from the way you're gripping the weights to the distance between your feet while you stand. A small tweak can make a big difference, and as you feel your muscles working to lift and lower, you'll know you got the stance right.
5. Remember to Rest
Plateau-based frustration might come because you're working non-stop without seeing anything happen. But your round-the-clock workout routine could actually be the reason why results have stalled. Even the world's best athletes take days off to let their bodies rest and recover, and you should do the same. Your muscles will have time to relax and rebuild this way, and you'll stave off injuries that could further hinder your progress. Depending on how experienced you are in the gym, you should take between one and three rest days each week.
6. Try a Personal Trainer
Okay, we know not everyone can consider this pricy option, but a personal trainer has the skills to blast you through an annoying plateau. They'll come up with a plan tailored to your frustrations and goals. Then, they'll hold you accountable to your new routine by guiding your workouts. In most cases, those who work out with a trainer see results more quickly, so it could be worth the cost if you have the income to sign up.
7. Scrutinize Your Nutrition
No matter how hard you're working out, a poor diet could be sabotaging your results. The food you eat fuels each workout, so make sure you're whipping up balanced, energy-boosting meals. To that end, protein is, of course, an essential element in building muscle. However, many fitness aficionados overload on lean meats, eggs and protein shakes while skimping on carbs. The latter provides us with the energy we need to crush a workout — be sure to choose healthy options to stay on track and fire yourself through a challenging routine.
Leave the Plateau Behind
You're already on the right track — you're working out often enough to notice that you're plateauing. Luckily, all you have to do is make a few small tweaks to the routine that has gotten you this far, and your current stall will soon be a thing of the past. With that, you'll be well on your way to achieving the bod you've been working for, so get after it.