One of the most frustrating problems that afflicts amateur exercisers and professional athletes alike is the training plateau. This insidious snare can happen at any time and not only stall your progress, but discourage you from continuing to pursue your fitness goals.
What is a Training Plateau?
When applied to an exercise program, the term “plateau” refers to a sudden and dramatic decrease in the noticeable results of your regular workouts. This can manifest itself in both strength and cardiovascular training, as well is in weight loss. The human body is a master at adaptation, capable of quickly adjusting to meet the demands of any workout. If your workout is not continually evolving to keep up with the increases in strength and endurance that your body is making, plateaus will occur.
How to Avoid and Bust Plateaus
Consistently and strategically changing your workout will keep your body from adapting, therefore helping you to avoid hitting training plateaus. The exact methods that will be best for you will depend heavily on your individual goals and fitness level.
Periodization, a carefully planned training progression, is commonly used by athletes and bodybuilders to avoid hitting plateaus. Fitness expert Andre Farnell suggests breaking your year up into three cycles each with different objectives. Each cycle should focus on various aspects of your fitness goals such as strength, endurance, speed and muscle tone.
To encourage increases in muscle size and strength, the American Council on Exercise suggests that the solution may be increasing the intensity of your workout, without necessarily making the workout any longer. Changing the order and type of exercises you perform may also be effective, such as replacing the bench press with push-ups or dumbbell presses.
Plateaus in cardiovascular endurance training can also be busted by varying the type of your workout. If you commonly run, switch to biking or utilize a different track to emphasis hill-running or speed. Classes, such as spinning or aerobics will also give you a change of pace while helping to improve your cardiovascular endurance. The best home treadmills available on the market will include a variety of programs designed to help you work through plateaus. Making use of these preset programs, or even designing your own, will be a powerful tool for avoiding training plateaus.
Because the root cause of training plateaus is adaptation, be sure to continually challenge your body by making use of several different methods.