So you’re hitting the gym on a regular basis and drinking your protein shakes, but you’re just not getting stronger. You just may have hit the dreaded fitness plateau! But don’t worry–there are options for you to stop feeling stagnant and move forward in your fitness quest. Wanna know how? Vary your workouts!
When you start lifting dumbbells for the first time you may begin to see results fairly quickly. But as you continue to gain strength in a specific movement, the body requires new stimulus to grow. According to research studies, the body will adapt to a typical fitness routine anywhere after one to six weeks. While there is no one specific reason why you may stop seeing progress in your strength gains, a very simple (but plausible) solution may be to change things up.
Here are 9 suggestions to say goodbye to your strength training plateau:
1. Vary the order–Try switching up the order of strength training exercises to fatigue muscles at different times. If you’ve been doing the harder exercises first to “get them out of the way,” try saving them until the end when you’re good and tired.
2. Vary the repetitions–Are you one to stick with the same number of reps and sets for every exercise? Try changing the number for both reps and sets to surprise the body! Going heavier for fewer reps? Just make sure that you increase the weight gradually. While lifting heavier weight will stimulate hormones that assist in muscle growth, adding too much weight at once could cause serious injury.
3. Add intensity–Remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? Well, slow and steady won that race! But it doesn’t always turn out that way with strength training. Try increasing your intensity to continue to build muscle. Instead of a long, slow run, try changing it up with some interval training…or, instead of walking to your next exercise location, try lunging instead!
4. Vary your moves–Dead set on sticking with that bench press? Maybe try doing push-ups instead. Been doing conventional deadlifts? Consider giving sumo deadlifts a try. This will target the same muscles, but in a different way (pretty sneaky, huh?).
5. Cross train–By utilizing different training styles, different muscles will be targeted. Cross training just may help to reduce the risk of injury as well, so get off the treadmill or elliptical and hop on the bike instead!
6. Vary the rest time between sets–Rest is not overrated! In order to change things up, shorten or lengthen rest time to affect muscle endurance. Or, try skipping the rest period altogether (on occasion) and perform a superset or circuit. The rest period occurs after each series is through.
7. Rest–As long as we’re touching on the topic of rest, don’t forget to take it easy every now and then. Muscles need a certain amount of rest in order to rebuild.
8. Pinpoint the problem–Hate a particular exercise such as lunges? Tough–get over it! Just because you hate a certain exercise doesn’t mean you leave it out. If an exercise does, in fact, prove difficult, just keep at it (as long as you are performing the exercise correctly and use proper form and biomechanics). This will only lead to a stronger body!
9. Don’t give up–Chances are you’re going to get frustrated at some point by a lack of progress. Just know that it’s normal, and keep pushing on! Need a little reinforcement? Try keeping a workout journal or use a fitness app to keep track of your workouts (and your progress)!
Just a little change will make sure your body stays challenged, which will lead to your hard work paying off! Make sure to watch your food intake as well–after all, what happens in the kitchen affects your performance in the gym. Opt for fruits, veggies, and protein, and keep an eye on your sugar and carb intake. With perseverance, hard work, and patience that dreaded fitness plateau should be a thing of the past!
And as always, if you or someone you know needs some guidance in how to start an exercise program, progress one to stay active, or just where to begin to get physical activity into your daily routine, call me at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute Discovery Visit to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t delay–schedule now!