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How to beat a fitness plateau

Feb 16th 2014 at 9:01 PM

Not seeing any results from your exercises anymore? If you're stuck in a fitness lul, here are some exercises to get you back on track.

By Katherine Vankoughnet
Three tips to get over a fitness plateau    

Whether you've noticed a flatline in your fitness gains or you're simply bored of the same old treadmill, the dreaded fitness plateau is a common problem that even the strongest gym rat encounters. So how do you break through it?

"In order to see results, you need a stimulus that challenges your cardiovascular system or causes damage to muscles," explains Nanci Guest, a Toronto-based dietitian and certified personal trainer. "It's important to keep up the challenge and there's an infinite amount of ways to do that."

Avoid a strict routine

"Muscles do adapt," says Guest. "For the same reasons you don't want to eat the same foods every day, you need variety in your diet and you also need variety in your workouts."

People tend to stick with what they know, using the same weights for the same amount of reps or running the same distance, not because they've hit their max, but because it's what they're used to. In order to keep your muscles stimulated, alternate between heavier and lighter weights, number of exercises and order of exercises – or do a different type of activity or sport altogether.

Push yourself

"Exercise should always be to fatigue or failure," explains Guest. "No matter what you're doing, you always want that last rep or final push to be really difficult."

For example, in a 12-rep set of bicep curls, the first 10 reps are calorie burning reps, but it's the last two reps that create change in the body. Always do as many reps as you can, because if you stop too soon your body hasn't really struggled and you won't get the results you're looking for.

Cover all your bases

"It's important to find something you love and that you'll stick to, but cross-training is also very important for achieving optimal fitness," says Guest.

Devoting all of your time for fitness to one physical activity can invite and prolong a fitness plateau. If you're a running enthusiast, you might be neglecting your upper-body strength. Similarly, yoga devotees might have limited aerobic capacities. As much as you love one activity, make sure you're challenging your whole body from a fitness perspective for best results.

"The three most important components of fitness are strength training, aerobics and flexibility," says Guest. "If you're not flexible, you're not going to get the most out of your strength training and you'll risk injury."

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