Climbing Off A Plateau

Even for the most active and workout-loving people, plateaus happen.

You’ve been regular and structured in your workouts, your diet has been clean and full of whole foods, but you’re not seeing as much progress as you would hope.

And plateaus don’t just occur for people trying to lose weight.

You could be aiming for a faster running pace or maybe you’ve always wanted the ability (and flexibility) to do a handstand. However, the reality of these personal achievements is that we have to continue adapting to keep our body changing and moving closer to those goals.

Here are some tips on how to climb off your plateau and take yourself to the next level in achieving your health goals:

Swap a Couple Workouts

Most people know what muscle confusion is, but to put it simply, when you do the same thing over and over your body becomes programmed and you don’t work as hard.

This isn’t saying you’re being lazy, it just means your mind and body now knows what to expect and doesn’t get into a zone that propels growth because you’re unconsciously just going through the motions.

Challenging yourself to a new workout with new moves is a surefire way to get those muscles sore again. You don’t have to make over your entire workout routine, but switch it up one or two days a week for a month and guarantee you’ll see personal growth.

A great way to incorporate this kind of change in to your routine is through workout groups and classes. Classes that involve weightlifting (such as Body Pump), High Intensity Interval Training, spinning, etc. are good ways to mix up your week, and it helps to prevent boredom with the same routine.

Also, if you’re a walker/jogger, adding an incline to your route will really fire up those leg, glute and core muscles.


Switch Up Your Supplementation

We’re not going to get in to all the different types of pre- and post-workout supplements out there or which are the best and the worst, but sometimes switching up what you’re taking can make a difference in the results you are experiencing.

For example, for years whey protein was my go-to for a post weight training workout shake. It’s what everyone else did, and they had the results I wanted, so watch and learn, right?

Well, turns out everyone’s different, (shocking, I know) but what works for other people may not work for you. After coming to the realization that whey protein left me bloated and did weird things with my appetite, I made the switch to a vegan protein powder.

This new supplement didn’t cause any of the bloating or appetite effects that occurred with whey, which allowed for better muscle definition in my mid-section just from not having any bloat, and I was able to properly refuel my body with food later in the day because my appetite wasn’t decreased like before.

So rather than doing what you’ve always been doing, see if there are any parts of your workout nutrition you could be changing. Maybe that means eating a different pre-workout snack that gives you more energy for a more powerful workout. Or maybe it means having a better option for recovery.

Do a little analysis and try some new things to see how it works, as long as you’re doing things naturally, it never hurts to experiment.


Up Your Weights

Sometimes it’s not the workout that needs to change, it’s just the weight you’re lifting.

Of course, doing exercises with correct form is key, so if you’re not able to perform a move properly by going one step higher than this one isn’t for you. However, say you do three sets of 12 to 15 reps for five different exercises. During one of your sets try going up a level in weight.

You may not be able to perform as many reps as you can with the lighter weights, but that’s okay, as long as you’re in proper form, do as many as you can.

By gradually increasing your weight you’ll see the gains you’re making in strength. Why continue to do something with ease when you can bump it up a notch, even for just part of your workout?

This kind of adaptation is what will get you off your plateau and contribute to that muscle confusion mentioned earlier.


Scale Back

You may be missing the results you want because you simply just need to take a break.

Not saying you should go sit on your couch for a week, but in the same way you occasionally need a few days to just get away, the same goes for your workout routine.

Rest days are essential for your body to recover and if you’ve been hitting your workouts hard for awhile, a break can help you build back some steam.

You know what I’m talking about. You take a few days or a week off work for some R & R and you come back recharged and ready to get back to tackling work. The exact principle also applies to your workouts.

If you’re someone who has a hard time not being active for at least a part of your day, try a workout that focuses on the mind in equal proportion to the body such as yoga.

There’s a common misconception that every workout needs to be waging war with your body, but that leads to more harm than good. Learn how to love proper periods of recovery and know that you are much more susceptible to injury when you go too hard too soon.


Are you currently experiencing a plateau in your health goals? Have you previously experienced a plateau? If so, how did you work through it?


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Elle Michels

Elle Michels

Based in Washington, D.C., Elle Michels is a contributing writer to

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