If you’ve exercised regularly, you’ll probably have experienced something like this.
- After dramatic and quick results, not much seems to be happening, even though we’re doing the same, if not more, than before
- Your goal – fat (or weight) loss – seems to stall
- We seem to be able to do less – lift less, run less, and generally feel drained and tired
Welcome to the “I’ve plateaued” club – one that no one wants to find themselves in, and, in my experience, one of the biggest reasons people drop out of exercise.
What makes exercise work is that to start off we inefficient at it. Your body is not used to the demands you put on it, whether it’s running on a treadmill or lifting weights. It then adapts to this new stress by getting fitter and stronger. Unfortunately, when that happens, we get better at what we are doing and we become efficient. We hardly break a sweat when we row 1km in 5 minutes, so we start rowing 2km. We work harder but the results don’t seem quite as dramatic as before. Again, this is because we’ve become efficient. Our bodies are used to rowing, our technique has improved, so, even though we increase the workload, our bodies are better doing the work which leads to a plateau.
So how do we break out of this? Here are my favourite options:
Weight train. This has its own plateauing issues but if you’re ever stuck and not getting results a good weight training programme will break you out of it, quick. More muscle, especially for us ladies, leads to a better physique and one that performs well too.
Change what you do. The paradox of cardio training is, the better you get at it, the less effective it gets. The solution? Change what you do! If you love your Zumba classes go try body combat, if you go Spinning, try Ashtanga yoga. You get the idea 🙂
Change your programme. Increase the intensity, increase the duration – changing things up helps make the body adapt.
Take a break. Rest allows the body to recover. Stretching, yoga, pilates are all great ways of recovering.
So break past your plateaus and carry on upwards!
New Scientist News: Our body adapts to intense exercise to burn fewer calories. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwsOGpyCc