Plateaus happen — or they should if you've been working out regularly. Plateaus are your body's natural reaction to becoming accustomed to your workout. It means you've made gains, but if you keep working at this same level, this is as good as it's going to get.
In other words, your body is bored.
It makes sense then that the only way to break through a plateau is to change things up. However, to do this, you must first realize you’re in a plateau. It’s a little like being in a bad relationship: sometimes you need an objective third party to point out that getting ditched for a routine oil change on your birthday isn’t a good sign.
So, if you suspect you may have plateaued, read on. Here are five ways to know for sure.
1. You Don’t Feel the Burn
A walk in the park is great, but this isn’t what your workout should be. To see results, you have to challenge yourself. You have to get uncomfortable — and not having to talk to your parents about your sex life, uncomfortable. More like having to talk to your parents about their sex life uncomfortable.
If you can smash out your reps and sets no problem, chances are, you’ve plateaued. Your sweat sessions should leave you feeling Gumbi-armed and Bambi-legged.
2. No Pain, No Gain
Feeling sore after workouts is an indication that good things are happening. It means your muscle fibres are breaking down to grow back stronger. It means you’re getting leaner and fitter. If you have no problem getting a cup from the top shelf after working your upper body, or getting off the toilet after leg day, then you need to amp the ante.
3. You’re Unmotivated
Doing the same moves over and over will take a mental toll. Straight up: it’s boring as hell. If you find yourself mentally dreading the prospect of having to do the same ol’, same ol’, it’s likely your body echoes sentiment. It’s time to infuse your workout with some new moves.
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4. You Don’t Feel Progress
It obviously takes time to see progress, but generally speaking, you should be able to feel progress in two workouts. If you’re not experiencing a plateau, you will notice bolstered performance from one session to the next. If you don’t feel stronger — if your body feels blase — then it’s time to switch it up.
5. Your Diet is Regimented
We’re all for eating clean, but a regimented diet can actually backfire on you, causing your body to plateau. This is because your body gets used to eating the same amount of the same things, day in and day out. To keep your metabolism on its toes and running high, you need to vary your caloric intake as well as the kinds of foods you eat.
Push Past Plateaus!
Variety and intensity: these are the best ways to push through plateaus. Grab a heavier kettlebell for your swings, or slap on a weighted vest to pound out those burpees. Try a new move or push yourself to the max for a little longer. And sometimes, when you’ve been training consistently and hard for a long time, the most effective way to bust through a plateau is to take a planned rest. This will allow your body to fully recover from training so that when you get back at it, you are working with a well-oiled, well rested machine.
Whatever you choose to do, do something! You deserve to see the perks of all your hard work!