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There is nothing more frustrating as an exercise plateau to me.
After doing a little research, I have found 11 tips to breaking any chance of an exercise plateau.
In short, changing up what I do helps me never hit a plateau. That’s why I am so heavy on hybrid schedules and changing up my meal plans. Plus, it keeps me excited about living a healthy life and keeps me from stressing out as much about what the scale says.
Before I figured this out though, I was ignorant enough to create my own exercise plateau, stopped seeing results, and wanted to throw my workouts out the window.
I admit it – I Created My Own Miserable Exercise Plateau in 4 Easy Ways.
1) First thing I did was over-train. I figured if Hilary Swank was working out something like 10 hours a day and being woke up to eat raw eggs, the least I could do was do an insane workout for a couple of hours and stick to 1200 calories. WRONG.
Since I wasn’t feeding my body the right kind of fuel, it starved itself…which still sounds like weight loss (though extremely dangerous), but it actually made me hold onto every ounce of fat. My body was trying to preserve its nutrition during this perilous time.
Lesson learned: Every body needs to time and fuel to recover from all of the hard workouts you put it through! You will actually see the biggest changes in your fat burn during the resting state after a workout. Plus overtraining can lead to things worse than an exercise plateau — like an injury or torn muscle fibers. Take a day off and find a program that offers a recovery week after intense workout sessions.
2) I didn’t push myself as hard as I could have. — Intensity is essential to your success. You SHOULD be out of breath. The last 2 reps SHOULD be hard. If you aren’t pushing yourself, you will reach an exercise plateau and your results will suffer. End of story.
3) Rewarding a good job at the gym with food — An intense cardio workout burns about 600 calories an hour, a Double Stack and Fries from Wendy’s is over 700! Don’t blow all of your hard work on junk! Find another way to reward yourself–a night out, a new dress, new running shoes, etc. Try the 90/10 rule to keep diet in check without depriving yourself! For me, the first 3 days giving up junk is always the hardest. Fight it!!!
4) Miscalculated caloric intake — As your weight goes up and down, you caloric intake will change. Make sure to calculate your optimal amount each time you gain or lose 5 lbs. Click here to find your optimal calorie intake! Because calories fuel your workout, an exercise plateau may be caused and broken by a change in your diet.
Now to the good stuff. 7 tried and true tips to breaking an exercise plateau.
7 Tips to Busting an Exercise Plateau
1) I chose a workout program with different phases or blocks. You want to learn the fitness program, master it, make accelerated progress, and then recover. This will help you not over-train & prevent an exercise plateau. Most at-home workouts and personal trainers use this method. Two of my favorites are P90X and TurboFire. Every time you start to master it, the trainer changes it up on you!
2) I streamlined my diet. If you’ve noticed I have stick to eating unprocessed foods. Basically the rule is:
Eat foods that come from the ground or have a mother.
These foods typically are found around the perimeter of grocery stores. The aisles of grocery stores are typically stocked with processed foods you should avoid. Check out the Eat Clean Diet if you need meal plans or recipe ideas. I also have tried the Whole 30, and I really loved the changes I saw in my body. It’s strict, but I never felt deprived.
3) I logged of my daily food intake. Keeping a food journal showed me where my diet pitfalls were (hello M&Ms) and helped me figure out how to overcome them
mostly. My favorite is MyFitnessPal because they also have an app on my iPhone. I can track each meal easily wherever I am.
4) I do my cardio workouts in the morning--Once I learned a 20 minute moderate cardio workout can be enough to boost my metabolism & help bust my exercise plateau, I was all over it! It doesn’t have to be a LONG workout to be effective. T25 is a 25-minute workout 5 days a week; I burn about 250-300 calories with each workout. It also is a phased-system so I never fully master it and get bored.
5) I mixed up my calorie intake. By mixing up my calorie intake, I shocked my body. I didn’t go extreme with this either. I added 100-200 calories Monday, subtract them on Tuesday, and return to your regular calorie intake on Wednesday. Repeat. Note: I try to put my heavier calorie days when I know my workout is harder.
6) I drank plenty of water. If you are dehydrated your body will not be able to function as well as it could. It will also hang on to whatever water it can leaving you with extra water weight and even bloat! Being properly hydrated will also allow you to push harder in your workout! Read more about the benefits of water & how much you really need here.
7) I made sure I was getting at least 7 hours a night of sleep and recovering from my hard workouts! Since overtraining left me feeling tired and not seeing results, I figured sleep wouldn’t hurt. It really did help. Your body needs rest!
Once you break your exercise plateau, you’re going to see changes quickly! After implementing these tips, here is my before and after progress picture.