When we start working out, sometimes the first time in a long time, you see pretty quick improvements. You feel fitter, you feel stronger and you can’t believe you hadn’t started earlier! This is great of course and you’re on a high but what happens when this all stops? You’re still exercising, you’re still putting in the hard work but you’re now not seeing the same rate of improvement that you had when you first started. Try not to stress, this is normal and it’s just us plateauing.
The body will go through stages of rapid improvement and plateauing but how do we stop the cycle so we only see the rapid improvement? The short answer is, we can’t. What can do though is try to reduce it by changing things up. We don’t want the body to get used to the same thing on a day to day basis. We should try and change our programs every 5-6 weeks so our body also makes the adjustment and almost shocks it into playing catch up.
How do we do this? Well we don’t have to go changing EVERYTHING we do, just a few things like intensity. Let’s use a 5km run an example. If you started running 5km and the first time you did it took 40 minutes, one would think you’re totally exhausted and took a long time to recover. The more you complete 5km in 40min you start to find that the body isn’t taking as long to recover and you’re feeling pretty good when you finish. We might suggest you increase the pace to complete the run in 35min and beyond. Now all of a sudden you’re feeling just like you did when you completed your first 40 minute run but you were able to do it 5-10 minutes quicker! We’d get you trying this for a while until you feel comfortable running at that pace and get you to repeat the cycle.
The same can absolutely be used when talking about nutrition. Keeping in mind we don’t like the word “diet” because they’re only ever an 8-12 week plan before reverting back to what you were doing prior to starting it. When we were on the International Squash Circuit we’d require quite a few carbohydrates in our system as sessions were long and gruelling. We often switched between pasta and rice every 4-5 weeks and noticed the change that occurred whilst our body adjusted to the different nutrition. Once our body made the adjustment, the 2kg that we lost would reappear and we’d be back to the same old same old until the next change.
If you were trying to use nutrition to help “shock” the body into making a change then we might suggest a change in your macronutrient levels or even making an adjustment in your calorie intake. These will vary with each individual and these decisions would need to be made on a case by case basis but most certainly an option.
If this sounds like you and you’ve hit a plateau in your results, we hope that you now know that it’s totally normal and it’s not a reason to be disheartened. Keep working towards your goals and know that even if you can’t see the benefits of exercise they’re there!
If you’re finding you’re plateauing with your regiment, utilise our app where you can follow different work out styles every 6 weeks to keep your body on its toes!
Keep at it guys!
Justin Beard Pn1