The Best Way to See Results, According to Our Experts
Everyone engaging in regular exercise wants to burn fat, build lean muscle and improve their fitness, but every once in a while, despite your indefatigable efforts, you find yourself not making improvements on par with the efforts you are giving. This phenomenon is called “plateauing”, and while plateaus are common, they can be avoided.
Design your workouts with these 6 tips to avoid the dreaded plateau.
Do not try to improve everything at once
A common mistake people make is trying to improve all facets of fitness at once. The main areas most people want to improve are speed, strength, power, aerobic endurance, and muscle size. It is nearly impossible to improve every single area at once because any one of these things will come at an expense to something else. This results in improving nothing.
Instead, focus on one area and dedicate the majority of your training to improve it.
Divide your workouts into “blocks”
After deciding what to focus on, structure your workouts and determine the length of time you want to do them. It takes several weeks for your body to adapt and improve, so dedicating a block of time to one area of fitness, instead of something new every week, will allow you to progress more efficiently. A block should last about 4 to 6 weeks for optimal results.
Focus on progressive overload
After dividing your training into blocks, it is essential to get the most out of your workouts. Gradually make your training more difficult by using more weights, doing more reps, working out for longer durations with less time for rest. Progressively increasing your workouts is called “progressive overload.” Giving your body more stimulus allows you to enjoy more results.
Small and steady increases are key
Increase your training by the smallest amount that gives you improvements. Generally, you should try to increase your training by about 10 percent per week. If you increase your training by too much too fast you could increase your risks of plateauing, burning out, or injuries.
Train hard, but recover harder
Growing comes when you recover, not when you train. So, skipping out on recovery, no matter how hard you train, will give you inconsistent results. If you do not allow adequate recovery time you could also overtrain or even sustain an injury due to stress and fatigue. Within the training block you create, take time to recover, whether that is by foam rolling, breathing exercises, a relaxing walk, etc. It may not seem important, but it will make a noticeable difference in your outcome.
Take small breaks in between blocks
Even with putting effort towards your recovery, by the end of the block, you will still be fatigued, especially if your initial level of fitness was low and you have increased your training load substantially.
Before jumping into another block, take a week-long break to allow your body to repair itself and lock in the progress it has made so far. A week-long break does not mean stop training entirely, instead, decrease your training by about 30 percent for the week.
Bonus tips from our expert
Xperience Fitness of Waukesha personal trainer Josh Fuher suggests adding at least one new exercise every other week.
“It will allow your body to try a particular motion and point of tension that it isn’t used to and your body will have to react and respond,” Fuher explained. “This also adds variety to your workout and can encourage you to come back into the gym to try it out.”
Additionally, Fuher suggested adding a workout you stopped doing back into your rotation.
“Circle back, there may be an exercise you used to do that you stopped doing for no major reason, it allows you to see if the exercise you used to do is easier and if you have improved or regressed in that area,” Fuher recommends.