How To Break Fitness Plateaus

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Posted by Helene

We say you have hit a plateau when you have been exercising for a while and you are not seeing the results you had at the beginning. Before you throw in the towel (literally), let’s look more closely at three areas that may need a little tweaking in order to help you break that plateau:

1/ Nutrition
- Make sure you are still on track calorie wise. Are you still keeping track of your portion sizes or just eyeballing the quantities of the foods you eat? It is important to take the measuring cups or the scale out of the drawer once in a while just to make sure you are not eating more than you think, a ½ cup can easily turn into ¾ or one whole cup thus sneaking extra calories to your plate. It’s not because an item is healthy that it is calorie free.
- Following the same idea, make sure you are eating enough: some of us over estimate the amout s we eat or do not pay close attention at the amout of calories we burn throughout the day. Too little fuel in the tank can prevent you from burning body fat and does not help boosting your energy level.
- Eat well: make sure you are still eating whole foods versus process, and that extra fats and sugars have not found their way into your daily food intake(drinks,snacks,…)
After a workout, refuel with a balanced snack or meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours. Carbohydrates are actually more important at this time, as your body needs to uptake glycogen into the cells to replace the energy you just used up during your workout.
Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day, sometimes it is as simple as that, ok not really but it is crucial!

2/ Workouts
- Allow sufficient rest, 1-2 days, between working muscle groups. When you workout your muscle fibers suffer tiny tears which cause you to experience soreness for a couple days after a weight lifting session. These tears need to repair themselves in order to build muscle mass, and the only way to do so is to rest. If you don’t, your muscles will get weaker, which is like pulling on a rubber band day after day…it will get loose or snap, preventing you from reaching your goals.
- You may feel strange not working out while you rest, so think about an active recovery time: take a less intense walk or jog, a Pilates or Yoga class, work on the lower body while your upper rests, etc…
- Last thing: get plenty of sleep! It is after all an obvious part of resting that most people do not pay close attention to Muscle repair occurs during your sleep and inadequate amounts of it slows your ability to recover from exercise, making plateaus more likely. While every individual’s needs for sleep are different, experts recommend getting 7- 8 hours a night.

3/ Spice it up!
Variety in your exercise routine is essential so that your muscles don’t get accustomed to the same things and keep being efficient. Challenge your muscles with harder exercises or heavier weights (every 6 to 8 weeks), adding a set of risers during your step class, increasing the incline on the treadmill, the duration of your run/walk, etc… It might seem tough at first as your newly challenged muscles will have to work harder but you will burn more calories and build more lean muscle mass in the process.

The concepts of proper nutrition, rest and variety work closely together to make sure you keep your body revved up and to prevent those depressing plateaus, so before you reach for that cookie, grab an extra set of weights and get going!

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This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette


helen, this is very useful information, particularly the rubber band analogy. thank you.

bee said...
September 15, 2007 at 1:54:00 PM GMT+2  

Hi Helen,
We have people from all over the country come to our retreat and breaking fitness plateaus are of interest to all of them. Your post was very well written and offers useful information for all of us.
I will check back often to your posts.

Annie said...
September 15, 2007 at 11:19:00 PM GMT+2  

As the youngest has started nursery I will soon be embarking on gym membership & induction. As I tore a disc in my lower spine earlier this year I'm very aware of not wanting to do anymore damage, so all of your tips are greatly appreciated - thank you.

September 16, 2007 at 11:26:00 PM GMT+2  

I faced one myself a few months ago, and what you've described works well...basically you have to chang eyour routine, and put in extra effort, and never ever try to reduce your calorie intake to break that plateau!!

nicely written Helene:)

Mansi said...
September 17, 2007 at 10:23:00 PM GMT+2  

Very good advice, sweetie! One day maybe I'll hit a plateau? hehe


Lis said...
October 10, 2007 at 12:46:00 PM GMT+2  

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