The start of a new fitness journey is often an exciting time. You feel good about committing to a healthy routine and you’re seeing the results of your efforts each week. Unfortunately, there may come a time when your progress slows down and your best efforts feel like they’re for naught. This is known as a fitness plateau.
When you’re already making healthy choices in your life such as exercising consistently, eating nutritious meals, and getting adequate sleep, not seeing any changes can be a frustrating experience. However, the most important thing you can do is not give up. Hitting a plateau is an extremely common experience. To overcome this hurdle, it’s important to reevaluate what’s working for you on your fitness journey, as well as what’s not.
Here are five lifestyle changes you can make to accelerate your progress once again, with some insights on common causes of fitness plateaus.
1 Switch Up Your Workout Routine
Noticeable progress depends on variety in your fitness routine. When your body starts to get used to specific exercises, it adapts to them. It’s why people training for marathons often find it easier to run longer distances each time they train. Your body is no longer as challenged by the same routine.
If you’ve been following the same weekly routine for more than about 8 – 12 weeks, start incorporating new exercises into your routine or completely switching it up. This can help you shock your system back into progress mode.
2 Adjust Your Calorie Intake
Eating nutritious food is a great way to kickstart your fitness journey and maintain your progress. However, if you want to further your progress, you may need to start paying attention to your intake of calories. For instance, if weight loss is your goal, you may need to gradually cut back on calories with carbs, which may be hiding in otherwise healthy foods.
Additionally, make sure to differentiate between good sugars and carbs. For example, although foods with natural, simple sugars — such as fruits and whole grains — are perfectly fine in moderation, added sugars in highly processed foods are linked to weight gain.
3 Cut Back or eliminate on Drinking
While there’s nothing wrong with grabbing a drink now and then, regular alcohol consumption can be the cause of your fitness plateau. Alcohol can interfere with metabolism, decrease nutrient absorption, and cause imbalances in your gut microbiome.
Cutting back on alcohol can help you speed up your progress once again. If you want to take your fitness journey a step further, consider increasing your water intake. A good water intake can significantly improve your metabolism and help you avoid dehydration when working out. This way, you can improve your exercise performance on top of overcoming the roadblocks that alcohol creates.
4 Give Your Body a Break
While some people can overcome their workout plateaus by switching or intensifying their workout routine, others may need to work out less. Overtraining can lead to plateaus because your body won’t have time to recover and new muscles won’t get the chance to form.
If you’re working out every day without rest or you’re constantly feeling exhausted after hitting the gym, consider taking it easier. Taking extra rest days when you’re feeling sick or when you’re injured is also key to giving your body adequate recovery time. Finding the right balance for you can help you avoid future plateaus.
5 Seek Professional Help
When all your lifestyle changes don’t feel successful or when you need extra motivation to hit your goals, consider seeking professional help. Fitness trainers and dieticians can help you create personalized routines that work for you. Plus, they can help you stick with it or identify when change is necessary.
If trainers and dieticians still can’t get you moving toward your fitness goals, there might be a more serious health condition at play. If you’re concerned that your plateau is a sign of something more serious, consider visiting a doctor. Tracking your health and nutrition before your appointment can help your doctor more accurately identify the root cause of your fitness plateau and suggest lifestyle changes that may work specifically for your body.
Push Past Your Plateau With Lifestyle Changes
When you’re feeling stuck in your fitness journey, a few small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference. Fitness plateaus are frequently caused by adaptations to your workout routine, such as too much repetition, too little intensity, or too few rest days. They can also be a sign of a need for a diet change, like reduced calorie consumption, even if you’re already eating healthily. Start with small changes first to ensure you’re on the right path.
If all else fails, consider reaching out to a professional for help adjusting your exercise routine or diet, or seeking a doctor’s opinion in case there’s a medical issue at play.
Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on feeling better both mentally and physically, and imparting health tips to others can help make the world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.