Woman exercising at gym with weights; conquer your fitness plateau with these tips.

Pushing through a fitness plateau

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If you no longer see progress with your fitness routine, it might be time to make some changes

If you have reached a fitness plateau, congratulations! A fitness plateau is a sign that your workout is working. The fact that your exercise routine has become easier for you is an indicator that your body has adapted to your training. That means you are getting stronger and healthier.

According to the American Council on Exercise, your body becomes accustomed to a workout routine after six to eight weeks of regular, repetitive training, which can lead to a fitness plateau.

If you are seeking to maintain your fitness level, a plateau can be a good thing. However, if you want to see more progress, making even small changes to your exercise routine can increase your workout’s effectiveness.

“It’s good to take inventory of your goals,” says Ginnie Emmott, manager, Folsom Fitness and Rehabilitation Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. “Take a pause and ask yourself: What am I trying to accomplish here?”

Variety is the spice of exercise

To push through your plateau, you may need to add variety to your workout routine. Changing your exercise routine may also help you stay motivated to exercise and enjoy your workouts more. To switch things up, Ginnie suggests:

  • Boost the intensity. If you walk for exercise, add intervals of jogging or walk uphill. You will work your muscles in a different way, requiring them to adjust to the new level of exercise.
  • Cross train. The American Heart Association recommends cross-training, or alternating between different types of cardio and strength-training exercises, to help prevent plateaus and banish boredom.
  • Step outside of your comfort zone. A plateau may be the result of you getting used to a routine. Try taking a class, such as dancing, yoga, or kickboxing, to keep fitness fresh.
  • Stay strong. Your plateau may be caused by the kind of exercise you do. Performing only intense cardio exercise routines may cause your body to burn muscle instead of build it. This limited approach may also increase your body’s cortisol levels, which can cause you to store fat, according to the American Council on Exercise. To combat this, add strength training to your fitness routine up to two times each week.
  • Eat, sleep, repeat. A healthy diet and a good night’s sleep are also important to maintaining a healthy fitness routine. Recovery time matters. “If you are overtraining and not giving yourself ample recovery time, you will not make progress,” Ginnie says.

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