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Surpassing Plateaus

A strong exercise routine can be extremely rewarding when the inches seem to slide off your waist or when your difficult biking trail suddenly seems simple. After such success, it can be devastating when the results seem to plateau despite continued hard work. The reason results often decelerate is because our bodies have adapted to a particular routine and are no longer challenged by the same moves.

So what should we do when our sweat sessions stop succeeding? It's as easy as changing things up! Check out some helpful tips below to get your results back in motion:

Pair up with a Personal Trainer

You might think personal trainers are only for celebrities and athletes, but you can benefit from a few sessions, too. That's because personal trainers act as coaches and motivators, guiding you toward your goals while providing the expertise and support needed to get there. Sessions can be expensive at $25 to $100 an hour, but you can often cut costs by opting for small group training. If a personal trainer simply isn't an option, pair up with a fit friend. Sharing new moves with each other is a fun way to bond and an inexpensive way to challenge yourself.

Get F.I.T.T.

If you feel like your workouts are a waste, try analyzing your routine. Each of the following components can be altered for an additional body challenge:

Frequency: Are you hitting the gym three times a week? Good for you! Now strive for five. Already treading the track every day? Try adding a brisk walk into your lunch break twice a week. Or, consider decreasing the number of times you work out each week and change the intensity or time for a different kind of challenge.

Intensity: If those weights you're lifting feel like feathers, put more on! Women especially tend to take it easy when it comes to pumping iron, but your muscles should feel fatigued toward the end of each set. If your cardio routine no longer gets your heart going, pump it up with intervals or added resistance to really reap the benefits.

Time: Although you may feel like you're squeezing as many minutes into your fitness routine as possible, you'd be amazed at the additional results you'd see from adding just 10-15 minutes of exercise to one or two sessions each week. Because your body is already in workout mode, it has to work extra hard to continue past what you've deemed "the finish line."

Type: Are you a cardio queen, a Pilates princess or a weight-lifting warrior? There's nothing wrong with being passionate about a particular type of exercise, but to see the best results, it's imperative to incorporate strength, cardio, flexibility and balance training into your wellness regimen.

Try New Things

Our bodies are programmed to adapt to routines to conserve energy. That means the running trail you used to struggle to complete is now easier for your heart and muscles, and it takes less effort and fewer calories to push you to the finish line, making your workout less effective. To re-start success, experiment with exercise options. If you belong to a gym, try taking a new class every week to keep the program exciting and your heart pumping. If you're used to a particular routine, try flipping it. For example, instead of starting with the bicycle and ending with the cross trainer each day, jump on the cross trainer first thing and follow with the stair climber.

If you're not the gym-rat type, research outdoor options to exercise like a kid again -- many communities offer seasonal adult sports leagues. Don't want to commit to a team? Establish a weekly family field day; games like kickball, tag, handball and tennis utilize your entire body and offer healthy ways for your family to connect.

Keep in mind that proper nutrition, sufficient rest, the responsible use of supplements and regular physical activity all combine to prevent plateaus. If you've tried all of the above and you're still not getting the results you had hoped, take a look at your other healthy habits to make sure everything's on track and seek advice from your healthcare practitioner.

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