If you are new to working out or if you have been training for years, you probably have experienced a plateau or two. The most common plateaus are in weight loss and in strength numbers. These obstacles can be very frustrating and sometimes even discouraging. Here are a few things you can do to overcome plateaus:
Reassess your habits
Be honest with yourself. Have you been getting 8+ hours of sleep consistently? Are you working out intensely? Is your nutrition good? You can’t be upset about plateauing if you aren’t doing enough to go past it. The fitter you get, the harder it is to see improvements. Therefore, the more strict you have to be with your fitness habits.
Change your mindset
Don’t be progress driven (read our last blog posts here). Be consistency driven. As cliche as it sounds, fitness is a journey, not a destination. It is the habit that will keep you healthy for many years, that will allow you to play with your kids, do your hobbies and keep you away from the doctor. Forget about the 5 extra pounds and congratulate yourself for coming to the gym on a regular.
Did you really plateau?
Like I said before, most people focus on two thing: body weight and strength numbers. That does not say everything about your fitness. We know the scale is not a good indicator of health. Maybe you haven’t lost a pound in a couple of weeks, but it might be because you lost body fat and gained muscle; not a plateau. Maybe you haven’t PR’d your deadlift, but now you can run a mile 1 minute faster, or you have more energy throughout the day. What it feels like a plateau might not actually be one.
Progress isn’t linear.
You can’t expect progress to always be the same. You won’t lose a pound a week forever. You won’t PR your squat by 10lbs every month. As long as you are moving in the right direction over time, don’t worry about the ups and downs along the way. We all have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad ones. In CrossFit there are a lot of movements and patterns we work on, chances are you are improving in at least one area.
Are you working out correctly?
You can’t expect to do the same workout you did when you first started and get the same gains. When we first start working out, the changes happen quickly. We start with the PVC pipe and a light bar. After months of training, that light bar will not give you a stimulus big enough to require adaptation. Speed, load, volume and intensity have to increase as you get fitter to keep you improving.
Make small changes.
If you have been doing everything correctly, then it might be time to make some small adjustments. Maybe try to change your diet, the time of the day you workout in, what movements you do at the gym and their weights. Start with one small thing and see what kind of result it brings. Maybe you only needed to add some cabs and protein to your diet. Or get another 2 hours of sleep. This is easier than doing a total revamp your day.
Use this time where you are stuck in a plateau to change your goals. Is your body weight on the scale not moving down? Try to focus on getting stronger. Plateaus in one area give you the opportunity to redirect your efforts to another weak area. This can keep you attacking your weakness and make you a well-rounded athlete. Also, make sure to keep your goals short-termed. It’s easy to get discouraged with plateaus on long-term goals (for example, “I’m down 40lbs but I need 60lbs more to reach my goal”).
Plateaus are totally normal and most people will have to face them one time or another. There are many things we can do to overcome these plateaus. If you want to know how to get more out of your workouts, come chat with one of your Celebration CrossFit coaches!
by Coach Matt