Unfortunately, there is no one explanation for why we suffer occasional fitness plateaus. One of the biggest training fears, it's an ill-fated reality that everyone at some point has to deal with one. (Although check out Five Ways to Keep Progressing and Avoid Training Plateaus.)
There are three proven strategies that can bust you out of your rut and keep you moving toward your goals. If you can implement at least one of these steps in your workout routine, you will see your body leaving that plateau and once again improving in all areas.
Switch Up Your Routines
When you first begin any type of program, you are guaranteed to see results almost immediately. But if you spend every day training the same muscles the same way, your body figures out what you are doing and your workouts lose their effectiveness. (See A Training Template for Your All-Season Workout.)
To avoid a fitness plateau, you need to change your workout every four to six weeks. This is as simple as:
- Implementing heavier weights (going from 70% of your 1 rep max to 80%)
- Changing the movement entirely while working the same muscles (e.g., changing from regular squats to front squats)
- Switching to a different style of workout (changing from squats to squat jumps)
By making changes every so often, you create what is called "muscle confusion," which keeps constant stress on the muscles and forces you to work harder, leading to bigger and better gains.
A common misconception: you build muscle during a workout. The opposite is true. You break it down. It's the rest and recovery phase, along with proper nutrition, that allows your muscles to grow toner and leaner.
Athletes need to do two kinds of stretching, static and dynamic. Dynamic stretching is better before a workout because it promotes blood flow throughout the entire body. Static stretching is more effective after the workout to allow the body to cool down properly.
Rest and Recovery
The only way to be at 100% is to give your body the amount of rest it requires. You need to allow your muscles to recover for at least 24 to 48 hours between workouts.
Sleep is very important as well. No one was lying to you when they said eight hours of sleep is what the body needs to recharge its battery back to full potential.
Use these three strategies to break through a fitness plateau and never land on one again. With these three tips, you will be one step closer to becoming the ultimate athlete in your sport.
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