How to get through a plateau

Reaching a plateau is probably the number one reason people give up training. You are putting in the hours, following your programme at the gym and you still aren’t making progress. Your clothes fit the same and you look the same in the mirror, all that effort for nothing, so what's the point, right? 

Breaking through the plateau is possible, but first we need to understand why it's happening.

Ok, so the first thing we need to look at is the training itself. Your body is a machine designed to adapt to its environment, so if you are doing the same thing day in and day out you will plateau. What worked when you started will soon stop yielding results because it doesn’t challenge your body anymore. This is a good thing because it means you are fitter, the bad news is you are now going to have to work harder! 

It doesn’t matter what type of exercise you are doing, running at the same pace, only going the same distance, lifting the same weight, doing the same number of reps, as soon as your body has adapted to what you have asked it to do the gain train stops. If you want results you need progression. Lift more weight, it doesn’t have to be a huge amount more, small increments are fine. As long as you don’t compromise your form you will start getting results again. An alternative to more weight is more reps, increasing the volume of your workout will continue to challenge your body and you will make gains. If you do not like the idea of either of those options then simply decrease your rest time between sets, doing the same work in half the time will put your body under pressure and force it to respond. 

The second thing we need to look at is food! If your goal is to lose weight then you need to have a calorie deficit. In simple terms you need to burn more calories than you consume in order for your body to start using your own fat to fill the gap. It is worth bearing in mind that it takes a deficit of 3500 calories to shed one pound of fat. It is not going to happen overnight and it takes discipline. If you are trying to gain weight/muscle you have the opposite problem, you need significant excess of calories and specifically protein for your body to have the fuel it needs for growth. For both it is a good idea to record your daily intake of calories in detail so you can accurately measure what your body needs. 

Just remember life begins at the end of your comfort zone!