How to Break Through Your Plateau

What is the a plateau & Why are you in one?

What is a plateau? Plateaus, or in scientific terms - General Adaptation Syndrome, was first diagnosed by a Canadian endocrinologist and is when your body handles and manages stress and the demands you place on it.  Therefore, you don’t get the results you may have had in the past.

To better understand why your momentum may have slowed, it is important to understand the 3 phases your body goes through while strength training.

General Adaptation Syndrome - THE 3 PHASES -

PHASE 1 - Alarm Reaction.  This is the beginner. It is when intramuscular and neuro adaptation occurs in the body and when you will see the most strength gains, the quickest muscle growth, and lose the most fat. This phase normally lasts only for the first 6 months, maybe as long as a year after you first begin.

PHASE 2 - Stage of Resistance.  After years of training - most people are in this phase. This is when you begin to plateau and begin to experience less improvements or changes to your body.

Phase 3 - Exhaustion - putting too much stress on your body (aka overtraining).  During this phase you are at high risk of injury and/or muscle atrophy. If you are feeling joint pain following workouts, energy is low, or it is taking longer for you to recover in between workouts you are in phase 3 and need to take a week or two off completely.

Why do we plateau?

1. Workout splits and exercises you choose each week are always the same. You aren’t shocking your muscle - too much adaptation. The more you shock the body through changing the demand, the more your body has to respond - the more results you will experience.
You continue to repeat exercises that you like and are good at. Make sure you are also incorporating the exercises that cause you discomfort, where you are less efficient.  You’ll be surprised at how sore you are from it the next day!

2. You are not training slow enough. Stop using momentum during your lifts. There are two phases of a contraction - concentric (exertion force) - the least strongest phase, and the eccentric phase (letting go phase). The eccentric, or letting go, phase is the most effective way to gain strength, and muscle. Incorporating a few negative sets (eccentric phase slower than usual) at the beginning of your workout while you still have energy is also a great way to shake things up for your body to respond to.

3. You are not focusing enough or taking too much time between your sets. You aren’t training with intention! I always remind clients during their session to focus on the muscle they are training. The more you visualize the muscle contracting in the movement, the harder the muscle will have to work. Stop talking during your set- clearly you are’t focusing enough if you are able to speak through your set. Time in between sets is very dependant on the phase of training, but whether you are in a strength, hypertrophy or endurance phase, you should not be taking 5-10 minutes of rest in bw sets. Take the time to find out what you rest interval should be for your phase of training and stick to it. Basically more focus, less talking in the gym will most likely get you better gains overall.

4. You don’t get the appropriate amount of sleep at night you need for your body to repair itself. The body only builds and repairs while you sleep.

5. Your DIET is holding you back from not only physical improvements but also how you perform in the gym. This is the toughest thing to change, but most significant when you are not seeing results you want. Most clients are all or nothing, which is their first mistake. You cannot sustain perfection forever, so when someone decides they want to take their fitness to the next level they normally change everything all at once. This is not the correct approach because there is no way even the most disciplined will be able to sustain perfection forever. Yes - you will absolutely see changes, maybe even feel better if your diet was fast food and candy, but eventually sticking to the regiment of being too strict becomes too much, too isolating.  Eventually everyone will revert to not only your old ways or even worse - you are not special, you are not the one in a million.  Dial it back and make your lifestyle more’ll see better, longer term results.

This is what I recommend —

Choose 1 thing you know you need to work on. For example - boredom snacking at night. Make a conscious decision to do your best 80% of the time to not eat after dinner. What you do 20% of the time will not affect you.
Once you feel like you have the first bad habit more under control, move to the next one - but only when you feel like you are ready for the next challenge!
If you are feeling too restrictive, take a day to give yourself a treat! Keep in mind - being healthy and building your best mind and physique is a journey, there is no finish line. Having those days off are just as important as the days you are focused and on track!!
Never weigh yourself - go back to last blog where I explain why you need to throw away your scale - forever!!
Always keep nutrition at 80% balanced with 20% treats or less healthy choices. Refer to my last blog about what 20% looks like.

ABOVE ALL REMEMBER THIS - the longer it takes for you to lose the fat, the longer it will stay off. Your body needs to adjust to each change, every demand you put on it, and every change you are requiring from it. Let it adjust! Chances are if you are feeling too overwhelmed then so is your body. It all takes time.

In Happiness and Health,

luv, T xx

Tish Duffy