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You hit the gym faithfully nearly every day. So why don’t you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger yet? Just take a deep breath. While everyone’s physiology differs, you might be unwittingly undermining your progress. Here’s what causes a workout plateau and eight methods for getting over them, so you can achieve the chiseled body you crave.
What Causes Workout Plateaus?
Your body adapts rapidly to changing workloads, even though you may not feel like a superhero yet. Overall, this strength increase benefits you — what once seemed impossible becomes a snap. You’ll get more efficient at your workouts, and you’ll have to continue to challenge yourself to make gains.
However, there’s a difference between introducing unique new hurdles and overtraining. The latter mistake can ironically lead to workout plateaus because you don’t allow your body adequate rest to make gains.
When you exercise, your muscles undergo a tearing and repairing process while growing stronger. However, if you hit the gym day after day with no break, you hinder your growth.
8 Ways to Get Over a Workout Plateau
Now that you know what causes a workout plateau, how can you break through that barrier like the muscle-bound bull you are? Here are eight helpful tips.
1. Evaluate Your Plan
If you work out without a goal in mind, no wonder you feel like you’re trying to accelerate on black ice. Take the time to ask and answer the question, “What are your goals?”
If you’re trying to bulk up, you’ll follow a different routine than someone struggling to shed unwanted pounds. Those looking to pack on the pounds will focus more on adding more plates to their barbells, while those seeking a cut physique might amp up the number of repetitions.
2. Elevate Your Eating
If your idea of a post-workout meal is the greasiest burger you can find, you could undermine your progress. You need to fuel your body with tons of nutrients, not only protein and fat.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do keto. But you should incorporate as many fruits and veggies and lean proteins as your carb count allows. Why? Plants contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, all of which play a vital role in your recovery.
3. Cut Down on the Junk
Adding more carrots to your diet isn’t sufficient on its own. You also need to cut the junk — mainly, foods laden with added salt, sugar and white flour.
What makes bread so bad if you don’t follow a low-carb diet? When manufacturers refine grains, they strip away nutrients like magnesium with the bran. The result is empty calories that pad your waistline — but leave you hungry for a snack soon after eating.
4. Change Your Routine
One of the best ways to blast through plateaus is to change up your routine. If you previously used only machines, try adding free weights into the mix. Resistance bands can likewise work your muscles in new ways.
If you currently hit the gym three days a week, try upping it to six — but splitting your routine. Do a three-way split of two lower-body days, two chest-and-back days and two arms-and-shoulders days.
5. Try Adding Intervals
Intervals aren’t only for cardio. You can incorporate them into weight training, too.
Try doing shorter sets — consisting of five repetitions at the maximum weight — three times per week. According to one study, participants who tried this regimen made more significant gains in a shorter time frame.
6. Take a Class
You’re never too old to learn new tricks. Where can you discover the latest moves? Why not take a class?
If you need to add more cardio to reach your goals, why not try a high-octane spin class on for size instead of listlessly peddling a recumbent bike solo? If you’ve never tried high-intensity interval training, a qualified instructor can introduce you to the practice safely.
7. Work With a Trainer
Personal trainers need to undertake continuing education to keep their licenses. That’s because researchers constantly add to the available knowledge of effective fitness techniques.
Therefore, it pays to book a session even if you are an experienced gym rat. While it may cost you a little extra, it’s far less expensive than obtaining your physiology degree.
8. Invest More in Rest
Remember that bit about your muscles needing rest to repair and grow stronger? Use your rest days. Instead of hitting the gym, take a walk or accompany your kids to the park. Play a round of tennis or golf with your buddies.
Another practice that may help you see gains more quickly is yin yoga. Many top athletic coaches now recommend the technique because it works the deep connective tissues and fascia to speed the recovery process. Increased flexibility makes it less likely that a careless knee twist will land you on the sidelines and derail your progress.
Get Over Your Workout Plateau With These Tips
If you hit a workout plateau, you need not remain stuck indefinitely. Use the tips above to kick-start your motivation, shake up the status quo and take your fitness to new heights.