Happy Friday, and even more than that, Happy Good Friday! I hope that means you are off work, reading this with a giant mug of coffee (and Baileys) in your pajamas right now. This edition of Fitness Friday contains far too much basketball than I normally would allow in my life but I became a total bandwagon March Madness fan this year. I filled out a bracket for March Madness this year and the only reason I became super into it was because my bracket was doing so much better than my brother’s who actually put time and thought into his.
Everyone asks me if I played basketball in high school, because I’m almost 6′ tall and the answer is no. I did not. I did not and will not ever have the coordination for that. I played once in grade seven and I tripped on my own feet while dribbling the ball, face-planted and hit my knees hard on the court, and had giant purple knee bruises for weeks… that was the end of my basketball career.
Unrelated to basketball, I thought I would chat about busting through a fitness plateau today for Fitness Friday! In case you missed the first one, what it’s all about, check it out HERE!
In every way that there are places to make fitness gains, in speed or strength or flexibility, there are places to plateau. While sometimes it can be habit or lack of motivation that puts our fitness in maintenance mode, there are ways to challenge ourselves to bust out of that plateau and start getting faster, stronger, or better at whatever it is you want to be better at.
I know there are some sure signs that I’m stuck in a fitness rut. It usually takes a week or two to realize it but then I know I’ve hit a plateau. I think it’s really awesome to switch things up when it comes to fitness. There are no right and wrong answers. If you get tired of a sport or a routine… change it?! I know I’ve hit a plateau when…
… things feel way too easy. If it’s a certain pace or a certain weight I’m lifting that just feels too easy for the same amount of time/reps I normally do.
… my workout is simple a routine. It’s great to have habits of making it to the gym or staying active, but when it’s all the same every day, your body stops being challenged and just continues to do the routine.
… I’ve stopped seeing any progress. Right now I just can’t get any stronger with my bench press. In fact, some days I feel like I’m getting weaker, but I know I need to work on my back and triceps strength as accessory muscles to the bench, which have probably hindered my progress.
A few things that can be done to bust out your plateau:
- Change up your entire fitness routine. Play tennis instead of going for a walk. Run 3 moderate to hard runs a week instead of 5 easy ones. Lift heavy with low reps instead of lifting light with many reps. Add more yoga and less barre. Change it up.
- Push yourself. I know when I haven’t had one of those breathless, crazy hard, heart exploding, sweat puddle workouts in a while, that I haven’t pushed myself very hard. I settle into weight lifting and easy runs without challenging my cardiovascular system to do more for me.
- Less is more. HIIT classes, tabata style workouts, less time in the gym but more effort while you’re there. Run a little less but a little faster, use time wisely to see improvements.
- Seek more than one definition of progress. Have you really plateaued or are you making fitness gains in other places? Sure your running pace is the same, but is your recovery time less, are hills getting easier?
Often it’s a simple break in habit that pushes us to break out of a plateau and get us back to pushing ourselves to get stronger, faster, more limber, whatever the goal!
One of the best ways I have personally found to break through a plateau and really just challenge myself is to workout with someone else. If I go running with a faster friend I push myself to run harder. If I go to the gym with my brother, he pushes me to lift more. If I try a new fitness class with a friend, they encourage me to step out of my comfort zone.
The final consideration for getting through a plateau is to look at other factors in your life. Whether it’s a weight loss plateau or a fitness one, consider things like sleep, nutrition, and recovery. If all of these are still on fleek, take a look at your exercise routine and how you can change it up without just adding time at the gym!