Working through a plateau
You've finally gotten over the initial struggle of adapting to your new routine, and you're finally getting the hang of things. You enjoy the new high for a week or two, and now you realize that you are putting in just as much work but the change you're seeing has slowed down. It can feel like you just can't catch a break. Although it might not be a comfort to know that it's a common occurrence, we are going to break it down and make plateauing seem less daunting.
First, let's define what a plateau is: Plateau: A state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress. (As defined by Oxford Languages)
Simply put, your body's utmost priority is to keep you alive. It'll do whatever it takes to reduce energy expenditure to optimize survival. So in terms of exercise, this means that your body has now gotten accustomed to your workout intensity / routine and has adapted accordingly. What you'll need to do get out of this plateau, is to change things up.
This varies from each individual, some people might need to increase their intensity, some might be overtraining and need to reduce the intensity and frequency. Signs to look out for if you're:
1. Undertraining (or not training effectively):
- Feeling fresh after most workouts
- Easily distracted during workouts
- No change in appetite
- Trouble falling asleep from too much leftover energy
- Feeling trashed after most workouts
- Lack of emotion throughout your day
- Decreased appetite
- Feeling tired even after a good night's sleep
- Constant DOMS throughout the week
Aside from training intensity, there could be multiple contributing factors to plateauing through your fitness journey. These include but are not limited to insufficient recovery (recovery time and nutrition), inadequate nutrition (eating too little or disproportionately), and the lack of training variety (this includes variations of rhythm, type, intensity, weight load).
To leave you with an action plan, take note of what your current routines are and consult a fitness professional. Chances are that it's not your whole routine that needs to be changed, it could be just one aspect that might be holding you back.