PLATEAU – the point that we’ve all experienced! At some point, you reach a plateau. Whether your goals are fitness, aesthetic, or lifestyle focused, eventually you’ll find your body isn’t responding the way it once did.
Don’t give up! If you’ve already established a consistent workout routine and you’re eating mostly whole foods from a variety of food groups, such as proteins, fruits and vegetables, but not getting any closer to your fitness goals, try these actions to jumpstart your progress:
- Get more sleep
Skimping on sleep impacts your workouts, your nutrition and your recovery (Datillo et al., 2011; Halson, 2008; Myles, 1985; Van Dongen et al., 2003). When you’re well rested you have more energy, a stronger immune system, and a reduced appetite and fewer cravings. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night — that may be the ticket to reaching your goals (Foley, 2020)!
- Increase the intensity
When you go to the gym are you just going through the motions, or are you making an effort to push yourself, exploring your limits? It’s not reasonable to go all-out every day, but if you aren’t seeing any changes in your fitness, try increasing your intensity a few days per week (Morton et al., 2019).
- Reduce your alcohol intake
Even moderate alcohol consumption can impact your weight and overall health. Alcohol negatively impacts sleep, can interfere with your ability to grow and maintain muscle, and it can cause fat gain, in the abdomen (Vingren et al., 2013). You don’t have to give up alcohol entirely, but try restricting your consumption and days of intake.
- Take a rest day
Research indicates that trained people benefit from programmed rest periods (Morton et al., 2019). If you’ve reached a performance or physique plateau, programmed rest may be exactly what you need. It has also been indicated that rest periods (detraining) of less than 3 weeks do not result in significant muscle loss (atrophy) and that muscle gain (hypertophy) may be stimulated when training reconvenes (Fisher et al., 2013).
If you’re frustrated with your progress, or feel like you’ve hit a plateau, try these approaches and let me know the results!
Dattilo, M., Antunes, H. K. M., Medeiros, A., Neto, M. M., Souza, H. S. D., Tufik, S., & De Mello, M. T. (2011). Sleep and muscle recovery: Endocrinological and molecular basis for a new and promising hypothesis. Medical Hypotheses, 77(2), 220-222.
Fisher, J., Steele, J., & Smith, D. (2013). Evidence-based resistance training recommendations for muscular hypertrophy. Medicina Sportiva, 17(4).
Foley, 2020. Why do we need sleep? Sleep Foundation. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/why-do-we-need-sleep
Halson, S. L. (2008). Nutrition, sleep and recovery. European Journal of Sport Science, 8(2), 119-126.
Morton, R. W., Colenso-Semple, L., & Phillips, S. M. (2019). Training for strength and hypertrophy: an evidence-based approach. Current Opinion in Physiology, 10, 90-95.
Myles, W. S. (1985). Sleep deprivation, physical fatigue, and the perception of exercise intensity. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Van Dongen, H., Maislin, G., Mullington, J. M., & Dinges, D. F. (2003). The cumulative cost of additional wakefulness: Dose-response effects on neurobehavioral functions and sleep physiology from chronic sleep restriction and total sleep deprivation. Sleep, 26(2), 117-126.
Vingren, J. L., Hill, D. W., Buddhadev, H., & Duplanty, A. (2013). Postresistance exercise ethanol ingestion and acute testosterone bioavailability. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 45(9), 1825-1832.