When you first start working out, your initial quick results can be very exciting. You see huge gains in the amount of weight you can lift, and you notice changes in the way your body looks in the mirror, and even notice changes in the way your clothes fit. At this pace, you’re set to be on the cover of Men’s or Women’s health in just a few months. Fortunately and unfortunately, rapid gains at the beginning of a fitness program are fairly common, and the results plateau for a variety of reasons. You don’t see your strength improving as much, and you’re not seeing much (if any) changes in the mirror anymore. This can be a frustrating thing after feeling the “high” of getting quick results.
So what do most people think when this happens? “I have to workout more” “I’m just not going hard enough in the gym” “I think I need more kettlebell work” or my personal favorite, “I think I just need more cardio in my routine.” These are things we hear and witness all too often. Unfortunately, these “solutions” are almost NEVER the case.
So what the heck do I do then? The answer may confuse you, and you probably won’t trust it. The answer is more than likely to do LESS. If you workout properly 2-4 days per week, this is almost always plenty of exercise. Here’s where most people fail. This is only 1 out of 3 areas that you need to be consistent with. Think of your goals as a baby sitting on a 3 legged stool. Those 3 legs are made up of fitness, nutrition, and REST. You don’t need to be perfect in these 3 areas by any means, but neglect one of them and “oh no! Your baby (your goal) tumbles to the ground!” The reality of fitness and wellness is that these 3 areas carry equal weight. You can’t do 2 out of 3 very well and expect to get the results you are looking for. What do most of us do? We put all of our weight on the fitness leg of the stool and just add more workouts or go harder in the gym. Unfortunately, this makes things worse for many reasons. Here’s a few: 1. Stress responses in the body are constantly going off. When this happens hormones in your body such as cortisol are at a high level, when PREVENTS us from burning fat and losing weight. 2. We give ourselves an excuse to eat poorly, or we just eat more of the bad stuff we were eating before. “I got after it at the gym today, so I can eat this ENTIRE PIZZA BY MYSELF.” Even if it isn’t an entire pizza, it might be that sugary drink at Starbucks, or the dessert, or just eating so much at every meal that you can’t breathe afterword. 3. You burn yourself out. You go hard at the gym 6 days in a row, then by Sunday you can’t move and don’t even want to think about the gym. Monday comes around, and you feel tired and weak, but you go anyway. You’re not lifting as much weight and you’re not excited about your workout. You are at the gym, but now you’re frustrated because of your poor performance and attitude. FAIL.
So what should I do instead?
Scale your workouts back a little bit. If you’re going 5-6 days per week, take it down to 3-4 and put extra attention on the other two legs of fitness/wellness. Remember, the 3 legs carry equal weight; You don’t want your baby to fall to the ground! Take a few weeks to create better eating/drinking habits, and do your best to get 8 hours of sleep. If you do better in these ares, I guarantee you will get past your plateau!
THAT’S NOT GOING TO WORK
This is probably what a lot of you are thinking. I get it, to most people, this makes absolutely zero sense. I got where I am because of my workouts, why won’t that get me further? If you’re reading this its probably because you re currently at a plateau. Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. Awesome grammar, I know, but its true. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a shot. If you take the time to improve your nutrition and rest, I guarantee you will get better results, and get out of that plateau.
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