There is nothing as good as realizing results after spending your time working out. Whether you are trying to lose weight, add muscles or simply learn a new skill, we all would like to see progress. However, it is not every day that you work-out that you will see results. After a period of successful workouts, every runner reaches a stage where your workouts will not be delivering results. That is when we say that you have reached a plateau stage. For example, you have been increasing your speed every week for months and then you reach a stage where you cannot increase speed further despite doing the same workouts that you were doing before.
Hitting a plateau is one of the most frustrating things that you will go through during workouts. It really does affect your motivation and breaks your heart. However, you should not be worried as everyone hits on a plateau every now and then. The sad thing is that most people will quit at this stage and consequently lose all the gains that they had acquired. On the positive side, there are people who are able to get through this stage and are able to get back on track almost immediately. In this article, we are going to look at 20 ways to break through running plateaus without getting injured or losing your mind.
1. Diagnosis of the problem
This is a very crucial stage and most likely the most important step in breaking through a plateau. This is the stage where you identify the actual reason causing the plateau. Here are some of the causes and ways through which you can overcome them.
Diet– Hitting a plateau could be for a simple reason such as your diet. Most people often overlook on their diet while working out. The best solution to this is to recalculate your diet consumption to make sure that you are taking enough of the three important micro nutrients which includes carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
One of the greatest mistakes that people make is in the calculation of the calories intake. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds and your target is to add weight and you have done your calculations right and you have achieved 200 pounds. Most people will continue consuming the same number of calories not realizing that your new weight requires additional calories. It is also important to ensure that you are taking your calories from healthy sources. With this in mind, you should avoid junk foods because they are full of saturated and trans fats. It is also important to ensure that you avoid sugars except the post workout shakes. Most importantly, make sure that you have taken enough water as water helps the body to utilize the foods that you are eating. It is very important to ensure that you have a food scale which will guide you on the exact amount of each macronutrient that you will need in your diet.
Lack of enough sleep– This is another reason why you could find yourself in a plateau. It is important to note that your body recovers when you are asleep. So, poor sleeping results in poor recovery and this will consequently result in over-training which is not good for your body. You should therefore ensure that you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Over-training– Over training will make it hard for you to continue enjoying the gains that you have been getting. In fact, over training could actually reverse on the gains that you had achieved. When people hit the plateau stage, the first thing that comes to their mind is that they are not doing enough running and workouts and therefore they think that the solution here is to increase the intensity of their workouts. Over-training occur when you do not allow your body enough time to heal between successive workouts. Some of the indicators that you are overworking yourself include; painful joints, insomnia, low energy, less appetite and frequent colds.
Repetitive routine– If you employ the same routine over an extended period of time, then you are likely to hit a plateau. Some people get addicted to their favorite workout and they refuse to try something different. Ensure that you change your workout routine every 6 to 8 weeks.
2. Observe eating habits.
Eating habits is also a very significant part of the training. Eating habits could plunge you into a plateau or get you over it. The most important thing is to ensure that you eat a clean diet. Sit down and make a plan of what you are going to eat for the entire day and ensure that, you stick to the plan. To ensure that you do not get into catabolic state, ensure that you have 5 or 6 meals after 2 to 3 hours every day. It is recommended that you eat 1 pound of protein for every pound of your weight and 1 ounce of water for every kilogram of your weight. The recommended amount of calories that you should take will be determined by your weight. This should be your body weight multiply by 20.
3 Switch the order of exercising
This is another very effective way through which you can ward off plateau. Change the order in which you perform your exercises. This will minimize chances of you getting stuck in a plateau. You can change this order from week to week or after every 6 weeks. For example; if you do running, shoulder and chest on Monday, you should alternate them the following week. Most people however are hesitant to do this because if they put running as the final activity, they will not be able to run as far as they are used to. However, it is important to note that alternating the order of performing exercises is much better than sticking to a routine.
4. Switch up your training methods
The method you employ in your training will have a significant impact in the frequency with which you land into a plateau. One of the things that you must note is that each and every person has a different method. This means that what another person does and achieves results may not work as well to you. If you are currently employing a low volume-high frequency routine and it is not working for you, then you should try high volume-low frequency routine. If you have a customized routine that you use, then you should consider alternating exercises for that routine even if you have not reached the plateau stage for that exercise. You can also consider changing the days when you exercise certain parts of the body.
5. Review cardiovascular exercises
As we all know, cardio exercises play a very significant role in ensuring that your body fats are within the recommended levels. Some people will engage into too much cardio that they forget to allow themselves enough time to rest. To get full benefits of cardio exercises, make sure that you exercise at the right time and also that you do not overdo them.
6. Take a Vacation
People who have taken their exercises a notch high usually have a feeling that it is a sin to take a few days off from exercising. However, it is important to note that your body requires a break from time to time. Taking a break for one week or two weeks is not only good for your body but it is also good for your minds. During this break, you will get the opportunity to catch up with the things that you have not been doing and also give your body an opportunity to relax and hence relieve stress. Always remember that extreme duress can inhibit your body from repairing itself.
7. Vary your reps
Varying your reps could also help you overcome plateau stage. There is a number of ways through which you can achieve this. Some of the ways includes using burns, supersets, and descending sets, forced reps, cheating reps, negative reps, psycho sets and also per-exhaustion supersets. You could also vary the number of reps your do per set.
8. Vary the time between sets
If you can manage to vary the time between reps, then you can easily get through a plateau. Rest for 2 minutes between the sets during the first week. In the next three weeks, lower the weights slightly for the same number of reps and sets. In those 3 weeks, only rest for 1 minute between the sets. After the three weeks, increase the resting period back to 2 minutes and you will achieve tremendous strength gain.
9. Are you on a plateau or you are simply overworking?
This is a very common scenario where people mistake reaching plateau for overworking. It is therefore very important to closely monitor your volume so that you can establish what type of exercises that your body responds to and also how far you can go with the exercise. The challenge here is to identify the thin line between overworking and growth such that you are able to push yourself far enough but not too far.
10. Keep your determination
While doing your running and other exercises, it is very important to ensure that you maintain your determination and focus. For you to succeed in workout, you must ensure that your head is fully engaged into your exercises. This is the reason why having a working partner is very crucial. Your workout partner should be a person with the same desires as you and also a person you can talk freely to. You should ensure that you have a workout partner who gives you motivation and not distraction. Having a friendly competition with your workout partner is very healthy as this will not only give you motivation but also maintain focus.
11. Ensure that you are properly hydrated
Ensuring that you are adequately hydrated is the key to effective workouts. If your muscles are not adequately hydrated, then you will begin to lose energy. Drink enough water throughout the day and not just when you are thirsty. Feeling thirsty is an indication that you are dehydrated. However, do not drink too much water at ago as this is not healthy.
12. Consider using supplements
It is important to note at this point that there is no single supplement that will break a plateau. However, there are some supplements that have been found to be very helpful whenever you are trying to overcome a plateau. They include;
· Nitric Oxide
· Creatine Ethyl Ester HCL (CEE)
· Creatine Monohydrate
13. Overcome mental Barriers
Sometimes you will get into a plateau because of something in your minds. For example, you believe in yourself that you are going to succeed. You have been running for 8 miles but you don’t think that you can manage 10 miles. You wonder why you can’t achieve that considering the fact that you feel energetic. Probably your only problem is that you are intimidated by the bigger number. In such a case you should dig deep inside of your mind and get that fear out. When you are able to control your mind, then you can easily accomplish what you intend to achieve.
14. Increase intensity
Sometimes the reason why you are in a plateau is because you have not been working with enough intensity. Evaluate your workout and establish if you have been working hard enough. Increasing your workout intensity will shock your body back to growth. There are different effective ways through which you can shock your body back to growth. Some of them include; partial reps, negatives, stripsets, supersets, giantsets, 100 rep sets and rest pause.
15. Experiment with something new
Have you been running and doing other workouts for a long time without achieving your desired results? Perhaps it is about time you experimented with something new. Go out and look for other successful programs that you can try. It is important to know that different programs will have a different impact on different people. Trying something new will eventually land you to a program that works best for you.
16. Work your legs
It is surprising to see the number of people who forget to work their legs. It is very important to ensure that your body is growing as a whole and if the growth of the upper body has halted, then it would be good to start working your legs. Exercises such as squats are very good for your legs and body.
17. Avoid using drugs
Always feed your body with the right foods. Do not engage in drugs that will only harm your body. Do not smoke as this habit will only reverse all that you have gained over a long time. Excessive use of alcohol is also not advisable as this will also damage your body.
18. Keep a record of your training journey
Keeping a record is very crucial to anyone working out towards a target. You should keep logs not only for your workouts but also for what you eat. Keeping records makes it easy for you to track your progress. You can also go back to the past to see what has been working for you and what has not been working. Part of keeping a record also involves making plan for the future such that you are aware of exactly what you need to do at what time.
19. Ensure your body is in proper form
Ensure that your body is in the right form before you begin working out. This will play a long way in ensuring that you do not get injuries during workouts. If you get an injury during workouts, then you will eventually spend many days without working out and this will reverse most of the gains that you had acquired. If it is lifting weights, ensure that you do it right.
20. Ensure that you have enough sleep
People who exercise and fail to get enough sleep are at a greater risk of getting into a plateau. Your body usually recovers when you are asleep. If you are experiencing a problem in sleeping, then you can try Valarian root or Melatonin which are safe and effective for you.
We know that you hate plateau but when they come, then you should face them accordingly. You should never contemplate giving up. Never stop growing. Look for something that works for you and continue moving in the right decision.