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Calorie Count Blog

Getting Past a Fitness Plateau


By +Carolyn Richardson on May 13, 2012 10:00 AM in Dieting & You

Are you on autopilot when you workout? Do you go to the same gym equipment, for the same amount of time, at the same amount of intensity every time you exercise?  Even if you’re accustomed to the interval settings, if you’re on the same machine day in and day out, you’re probably at a stand still in the way of making progress fitness-wise. Here are some ways to stave off boredom and keep your body getting stronger, healthier, and motivated.

Switch it Up

Shirley Archer, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise explains SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand), "It guides our training. Studies show that in as few as 6 workouts, our neuromuscular system has adjusted to a particular stimulus." Her advice, switch it up. "If your mind is bored, your body is bored too. Mix it up." And mixing it up doesn’t mean you have to go to a new gym or stop using gym cardio equipment. Try a group class or these unique workouts to switch it up. In the gym, do 10 minutes each on the elliptical, stair climber, bike, treadmill, and rowing machine. If jogging outdoors is your thing, try interval running, mixing sprints with stints of brisk walking in between for recovery. If you’re hiking, vary your pace depending on the terrain. Trying to go faster uphill, then slower downhill will keep your body guessing.

Periodization

It’s a fancy word for planning your fitness goals progressively with guidelines for intensity, time, and distance. Examples of the periodization model include P90X or a training program for a marathon. Most marathoners have a 4-month preparation phase that could start up to a year before depending their initial fitness level. For someone who’s simply trying to break a fitness plateau, training for a specific race may be just the ticket to push you past the same ole same ole. A recent study of military recruits showed soldiers’ physical fitness gains in basic training stopped during the subsequent 8-weeks of special training. The researchers point to a lack of periodization for stagnating their progress. You don’t have to be a statistic, instead learn how to outdo yourself. With a plan of attack that varies intensity, miles to run each week, as well as when to rest, your body is being challenged to do better every time. Even if you don’t actually sign up for a race, there are running clubs that whose training schedule you can follow. An added bonus to periodization is monitoring. So often we check the scale, but forget to monitor if we’re able to do more reps, carry more weight, run faster, or workout longer. With a plan in place, each workout counts.

Recovery and Relaxation

Too much exercise is unhealthy. But the definition of “how much” is different for everyone. Whether it’s job stress, overtraining, or a vacation, your mind might need your body to take a break. Although it is true that working out improves mood, for some, relaxation may be best for a short time. It’s important to ask yourself if it’s time to take a small break from your routine before you get overwhelmed. If the stress is building up around you, try meditation or yoga. If you don't plan recovery, you may get burned out. To make sure you don’t give up exercising all together, try using your regular workout time for relaxation time. This will keep you from replacing time for your body with an unhealthy habit. A week is a great time to rest, but don’t forget you’re still a calorie counter. To stave off weight gain, be a bit more careful about what you eat, and do some physical activity like stretching, brisk walking, or play recreational sports occasionally. After your rest week, you may want to jump back in with an interval workout that burns maximum calories. When you’ve given your body a break, it’ll bust through that plateau in no time.


Your thoughts…

What will you or have you done to get past a fitness plateau?



Comments


During my 100 lb weight loss journey, I hit a plateau 50 lbs into my journey. I got over the plateau by adding Power90 and Shakeology to the plan.  After losing 37 lbs in 150 days, I transitioned to P90X to drop the last 13 lbs.  Now, I'm on round 3 of P90X and I have modified it by substituting Insanity cardio workouts for the P90X cardio workouts.  I change it up every 90 days to keep it interesting and challenging.



I am always switching my workout up but even this was not getting it for me. I was stuck around 220 for months and this after over two years of battling with calorie counting and exercise.

Then my daughter had me watch "Forks Over Knives", a documentary on the effects of animal protein on our bodies and had me read Dr. Furhman's book "Eat to Live" all about eating a nutrient rich, whole foods diet, and I was inspired that day, Christmas 2011,' to become a vegan. With her help and the advice from those two items I was completely vegan within a week. Since New Years I have not had any animal products, including dairy, and have been off 95% of all processed foods since April.

I was shocked at how fast things started to change with my body. Weight started falling off without even trying. I was still counting calories in my head to ensure I was getting at least the minimum amount, where before I was always fighting to stay under the maximum. My energy levels went through the roof, so much so that I now feel compelled to exercise. It's almost like I have no choice. The mild depression I use to have was gone and my mood was, to say the least, energetic. In February I brought my physician on board with what I was up to and based on my weight loss so far, I was already below 200, and my blood work she took me off my BP and cholesterol medications.

Now, at 185 and still toning and shaping this newly rediscovered body of mine, i find my exercise routines a joy to do. I use a HRM, heart rate monitor, and based on my maximum heart rate I always try to maintain an aerobic level. This actually forces me to switch up my routine because as I am getting fitter I have to in order to keep my heart rate up. My recovery time is so much faster than before. For example: Where I use to walk 3 miles on the treadmill at around a 20 minute per mile, I am forced to either run now or constantly alternate the incline between 8 and 12% to keep my heart rate in the aerobic zone. Which for me is between 147 - 168 BPM. When I walk on a flat surface, I have to alternate between walking/jogging and am down to a 13 minute mile. Not ready for a 4 minute mile yet but for a 54 year old that weighed nearly 300 pounds at the beginning of 2009 I feel marvelous. I highly recommend anyone working out to track their progress of their heart with a good HRM. It will tell you every time your body is getting too accustom with your routine.


Well i have been working out for 3 weeks... Cardio plus strength training 6 times a week.. But i havent seen any changes on the weighing scale. I have lost in inches but not really any weight. Isnt it too early to hit a plateau?


When I was in high school and involved in sports and other activities, weight was not a problem. In college we were required to take PE again no weight problem, it's only when I find myself sitting around that I gain weight. I used to run but never liked it so I would run for a period of time and eventually quit. I began looking around for activities I enjoy so I do Pilates, walk every day, do yard work & guess what? it's working. Of course, one needs to focus long term and not on the short run. 



Plateaus sure can happen, but I've learned it's more about my personal effort.  Since I've been doing HIIT workouts, I haven't seen any plateaus.  I tend to work out hard 12 to 15 minutes at 3 to 4 days a week for about 3 weeks.  I then rest a week (or for half a week!).  Then I get right back into it.  It seems to do the trick. 

I also will do longer workouts for a week once in a while.  As long as you're not eating more calories than you're burning, you shouldn't have any issues.

Jim

Work out for less than an hour a week and still lose weight!



I think short, high intensity interval training programs could be incorporated to break plateaus. http://www.bodyrock.tv/ is full of free videos of 12 minute-workouts with generally body-weight only. And the intensity is very personally adjustable too - how many repeats one can do in 50 seconds. You only have 12 minutes to lose, after all. 



Original Post by: hacibarnabas

I think short, high intensity interval training programs could be incorporated to break plateaus. http://www.bodyrock.tv/ is full of free videos of 12 minute-workouts with generally body-weight only. And the intensity is very personally adjustable too - how many repeats one can do in 50 seconds. You only have 12 minutes to lose, after all. 


YEP!  100%  This is where I learned about HIIT workouts.  BEST source of these kind of workouts.

Jim

Work out for less than an hour per week and still lose weight!



so what can you eat? i am interested, but I am allergic to most fruit adn can not digest raw vegetables, would this diet be possible for me?



Original Post by: marileejikey

When I was in high school and involved in sports and other activities, weight was not a problem. In college we were required to take PE again no weight problem, it's only when I find myself sitting around that I gain weight. I used to run but never liked it so I would run for a period of time and eventually quit. I began looking around for activities I enjoy so I do Pilates, walk every day, do yard work & guess what? it's working. Of course, one needs to focus long term and not on the short run. 


Nsv  or none scale victory



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