If you’ve ever heard someone say “it’s make or break time”, then you’re on the right page when it comes to talking Scale about plateaus. A fitness plateau is a proverbial fork in the road, monkey in the wrench, the fourth quarter. Most people new to health and fitness recall that they quit as a result of a plateau, a specific time period when they saw their results from eating right and working outcome to a screeching halt.
So why do plateaus happen? How can you prevent it from happening? And most importantly, what can you do to stay on track in spite of a plateau? Let’s find out!
Why They Happen
This is one of those times where it won’t help to get very scientific on the subject. To put it in lamen’s terms, plateaus occur when the combination of exercise and nutritional intake reach a point that no longer produces either further weight loss, muscle gain, whatever your fitness goals are at the time. But Why?
Plateaus should be viewed as an indicator that we simply have to change what we are doing. It’s that simple. Most view plateaus as a negative thing as if some unforeseen voice boomed out of the sky saying “you can’t-do this!”. But the truth is that it is more like an alarm clock saying you can’t sleep anymore, you have to wake up. Plateaus tell you that you must try something different, tweak something, etc.
Are They Preventable?
I’m not going to say that it’s impossible to prevent plateaus, but for the most part, people tend to approach fitness one step at a time and as a result of this, plateaus tend to occur. It’s a matter of comfort-ability. We start doing a certain workout plan and diet and we get into the groove. Problem is that we may not be doing enough to reach our goals, so eventually, we plateau.
Again, this is not a bad thing in any way shape or form. Think of fitness like that of a puzzle. Do you think that anyone gets a thousand piece puzzle right every time they place a piece on the floor? No, of course not! Plateaus can be looked at like stairs in a staircase. All you need to do is figure out how to get your body from one stair to the next. Don’t you quit because you can no longer move laterally to your destination right?
Surpassing The Plateau
So once it happens, what do you do? This depends on what your goals are. Obviously, someone who is just looking to lose weight will have to adjust differently than someone who is looking to build muscle and therefore gain weight.
Weight Loss Plateau – Those who hit this plateau should feel happy to know that their solution is the easiest. If you find yourself stuck at one number on the scale, adjust your diet and simply eat fewer calories. Don’t just guess, write down how many calories you’ve been eating in a day and subtract 100. Then see how that works for a week. If you still aren’t losing weight, subtract some more calories. Also, it helps to take an inventory to see if you are eating the right amount of vegetables and fruits. If this doesn’t work, try changing the percentage breakdown of your diet. If you’ve been eating mostly carbs with some protein and some fat, try eating mostly protein and fat with fewer carbs.
Muscle Gain Plateau – This is where people find out the true color of their metabolism. The muscle must break down and then be fed in order to grow. So, either you aren’t working out hard enough or you aren’t feeding your muscles adequately after your workout (when you are in what’s called the anabolic state). It would be a good idea to increase the weight you are lifting and also take a look at the time of day when you eat the majority of your food.
While I have given some tips for how to surpass the plateau it is essential to understand that there is no magic bullet when it comes to fixing this problem because every person is different. The one constant in every solution to a diet or fitness plateau is changed. Changing your diet, workout, sleep, etc. will be the mitigating factor in the surpassing of the plateau.
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