Your body gets bored when you exercise the same way over and over again. By changing your routines and giving your body a jolt, you can get over a fitness plateau.
You're doing everything right. You're eating healthy foods in limited portions. You're working out regularly. But suddenly you reach a certain point — the dreaded fitness plateau — and you just can't seem to lose any more weight or gain any more muscle mass. What gives?
The problem lies in the body's ability to adapt. Unfortunately, that applies to things that are good for you as well as things that are bad for you. The more fit you become, the better able your body is to handle the same level of exercise. You burn fewer calories, your metabolism decreases, and you find that your progress stalls out.
The best way to challenge yourself and get past a fitness plateau is to shake up your routine. Tactics you might want to try include:
Take a break. Put your training on hiatus for one week to give your muscles a chance to reset their baseline.
Mix It Up. Challenge your body and your mind by changing up your program. If you’re the treadmill master, switch to an elliptical machine or swim laps once or twice a week. If you weight-train with free weights, try resistance machines instead.
Focus on training neglected or weaker body parts. For instance, if you spend hours on sit-ups, shift your attention to your shoulders and back.
Give your muscles a jolt. Challenge different sets of muscles by pushing them to their limits, where they are barely able to successfully finish the last rep with a higher weight.
Turn up the intensity on cardio workouts. Try the technique called interval training to push yourself to new fitness levels. Whether you’re on the treadmill, elliptical machine, or stationary bike, increase your speed or intensity for one minute of every three to five minutes at your usual exercise pace.
Repeat this pattern for the entire length of your aerobic session. After a few days, you’ll probably to be able to raise the intensity of those one-minute spurts even more.
Rethink meal sizes. When your metabolism is crawling along, readjusting your calorie intake might help move it back into high gear. Instead of eating the typical three meals a day, divide the same number of calories into five or six meals.
Spreading calories out throughout your day can spark a spurt in your metabolism. You also should be adding new foods to your diet all the time to prevent boredom, Anderson says. For instance, if you eat oatmeal for breakfast and a garden salad for lunch every day, you will quickly get tired of that routine. Eat healthy, but try new recipes, even new cuisines, as often as you can.