You’ve been doing it. You’ve been doing it right. You’re eating well (even on the weekends). You’re making every one of your workouts count, and your results to this point have been fantastic. But then it happens .… You've hit a plateau.
And, regardless of what you do, you can’t seem to get your body to the next level. This is one of the most frustrating things that everyone trying to get healthy and fit experiences.
One thing that you need to understand is that the human body is highly adaptive. Even though you’re on a “clean” diet and a good exercise regimen, eventually your body will get used to what you’re doing. Imagine a baseball pitcher, pitching the same exact fastball to the opposing team. In the beginning, it’s very effective and he’s striking out everyone that steps up to the plate. But after a while, the opposing team catches on and sends baseballs soaring out of the park with every swing of the bat. This goes the same for our bodies and why we hit plateaus, even when we’re doing everything right.
At first, the results are great, but then eventually come screeching to a halt. So what we need to do is the same thing that pitchers needed to do—throw a curveball to achieve the results desired.
Since our bodies are used to what we’ve been doing, we need to do something radically different to shock ourselves and get our results going in the right direction again. The following tips are the same strategies I give my clients to overcome a plateau once it enters into their lives.
TIP 1: Change the Diet
No matter what diet you are following, your body will eventually get used to the way you’re eating and results will halt. Now, throwing your body a curveball can happen in many ways here. If you are following an IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) type of plan, you may want to consider going into ketosis for a while.
Switching your body from glucose to ketones as energy is a great strategy to move your body back in the right direction. If you’re in ketosis you may want to throw some carb cycling in the mix. Or, if you want to make it a little extreme, you can try intermittent fasting for a while. Whatever adjustment you decide to apply, make sure that the diet fits your lifestyle. I cannot stress enough that any diet will work as long as it fits your lifestyle. One reason diet fails is people choose those that do not fit their lifestyle. That said, carefully select the eating regimen that works best for you.
TIP 2: Change the Workout
Similar to your diet, your body will eventually adapt to the workout program you’ve been following. Don’t worry you don’t have to completely change the kind of workouts that you’ve been doing. All it takes is a few simple tweaks to throw that curveball to get your body going in the right direction.
Let’s talk about how much rest you take between sets. You may not even know the answer so your rest periods are probably inconsistent. Try taking only 60-seconds rest in between your sets and see if the difficulty of your workouts increases. If 60 seconds doesn’t show promise, try 45 seconds or even 30 seconds. The whole point is to throw a new challenge at your body and intensify your workouts in a whole new way. You can also achieve this by changing the time of day that you work out.
Try altering the style of training that you’re doing, such as muscle hypertrophy, German volume training, strength training or training for muscle endurance. You can also change from doing steady-state cardio to high-intensity interval training or vise versa. Perhaps you start weight training in the mornings and do cardio at night. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that it fits your lifestyle so you can stick with it just like the diet.
TIP 3: Try Supplements
Although not everyone may utilize supplements, they certainly have an impact on helping to enhance results. Begin with a pre-workout. Taking this 30- minutes prior to exercise can help increase the intensity of your workouts by increasing energy and enhancing your performance. If you are already taking a pre-workout, you may want to try a different kind for a while just to switch things up (curveball).
If you are not already taking it, I would highly suggest taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The combination of leucine, isoleucine, and valine is an excellent complex to help enhance recovery times so you can go into the next workout less sore and ready to go. You may also want to consider a protein shake if you are not hitting your target protein intake daily. Make sure to stop by your local NUTRISHOP® and ask a health associate to help you formulate the proper supplement stack for your goals.
– By Dave Nelson, CN, CPT
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