Your fitness game is strong: You’ve been making great strides in your cardio and strength training and you’re eating well and sleeping better. Yet, when you get to the gym, you feel like you’re doing the same old, same old. Sound familiar?
Plateaus are a part of life: They happen in everything, from exercise and nutrition to relationships and jobs. While it may seem like they’re the perfect time to give up, they’re just the opposite. The key is to learn how to use them as a launching pad to get you to the next level.
But don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your gym habits. My favourite way to escape a workout plateau is to use the FITT (frequency, intensity, time and type) principle. Change one or two of the following in your existing workout and you’ll trick your brain into thinking that you’re doing something totally different.
Increase how often you work out to add more stress to your working muscles and see faster results (hello, motivation!). If you’re working out three times a week, your next challenge would be to strive for four sweat sessions. Don’t have time for that? If you’re doing three sets per exercise in your current regimen, simply add a fourth.
Switch up how you perform your moves to challenge your body into doing more work. Change the tempo and try doing your push-ups and squats slower than usual. Next time, try doing them faster. Switch up your form by changing your hand positions for push-ups or your leg positions for squats. If you’ve reached the point where you’re not feeling your exercises intensely anymore, use resistance bands in your push-ups or add weights to your squats.
Let’s assume your workout takes an hour from start to finish. The next time you get there, try to get it done in 45 minutes! Less rest time between exercises will result in improved cardio, better use of your time and a great plateau-busting workout.
Sometimes, you simply have to change things up entirely. If you’re on the same treadmill or elliptical machine every time you’re at the gym, switch to something out of your comfort zone. Try a bike, use a skipping rope or give the StairMaster a climb. You can even use five different cardio machines (bike, rower, elliptical, treadmill, StairMaster) and do six minutes of each for a total of 30 minutes of cardio.
And if you still feel like you’re in a rut, simply taking a week off can help immensely. Professional athletes always make time for rest so that they can come back stronger. If all else fails, recruit the help of your local trainer or coach and see if they can create a plan to break the boredom factor for you.
Peter Levidis is a certified athletic therapist at Sport Specialists.
Next, try a full-body workout that solely uses a stability ball.