Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.
So you’ve been good and diligent about visiting the gym or regularly exercising at home — that’s great! But even the best athletes can hit a workout plateau after weeks or months of consistent gains and progress. It can be disappointing to hit a wall after you’ve already put so much effort into, well, making the effort! But we’re here to tell you that no good comes from dwelling on a fitness slump. Sometimes you just have to give your routine a jolt to continue seeing the growth you want to see.
Revisit your goals and find new ways to get there
Whether it’s strength training, becoming a cardio master or muscle gain, there’s always more than one way to reach your goals. Just because you’ve been going about it one way doesn’t mean there isn’t a handful of other avenues you can take. And since variety is the spice of life, spend some time experimenting with brand-new routines and asking around to see how others are attacking their workouts. There are all sorts of great websites and communities out there for this exact reason, so don’t be shy.
It’s OK to take a break from the norm and focus on something else for a while
There’s no question about it: Maintaining a regular workout routine is the only way to ever see any progress. But that doesn’t mean you should let yourself slip into the same ol’ same ol’. Keep things fresh and adjust your workout every two to five weeks. If you’re fixated on weight loss and that seems to have hit a wall, why not spend the next couple of weeks on distance or increasing your reps? Maybe even try a new machine and get comfortable with a new muscle group.
Make sure other parts of your life are contributing to your growth
You might have your gym time planned down to a tee, but if external factors are seeping into your fitness, it won’t matter. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it can affect your workout and throw a wrench in even the best athlete’s performance. Diet is another important part of the equation — if you’re not eating right, your body won’t be properly prepared for a gym session. So before you start tweaking your routine, it’s worth making sure external factors don’t negatively contribute to your fitness.
Resting is not the same thing as giving up
There’s no shame in giving your body a rest. In fact, it’s necessary to have your muscles properly recover from a strenuous workout. If you push yourself too hard, it becomes easier to get bored, burned out or — you guessed it — feel like you’ve hit a plateau. It may take a while, but try to find a healthy balance between stepping outside your comfort zone and going easy on yourself. Look into the difference between active recovery and passive recovery, and then experiment with both to see which one better suits your lifestyle.
Focus on the small wins, not just the big gains
If you’re just starting out a fitness challenge, the initial wins are going to feel really substantial. As you continue on, the natural rate of progress will slowly start to feel less and less significant — but don’t let that fool you. Just because you’re losing fewer pounds per week or barely increasing your lifting weight, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That might mean you’ve simply started to zero in on your desired outcome! So still celebrate the small wins, even if they’re not as dramatic. It will keep you motivated and give you something to keep you coming back.
Regardless of your own personal fitness goals, it’s important to keep at it and continue moving forward. As the old proverb goes, “A rolling stone gathers no moss,” so find a way to keep yourself moss-free and motivated!