I think its fair to say that everyone including you and I have hit a wall when it comes to making progress in the gym, losing body fat or building muscle. It can be one of the most frustrating things; especially if you’re impatient. I like to think of plateaus as my body telling me ‘do something different’, which will usually help you get past whatever plateau you’ve hit. But, what to do different? Here’s how I break through plateaus.
WAY 1: MIX UP YOUR TRAINING
Usually we find ourselves training in our comfort zones; unless you have a PT or good training partner to push you, you’ll probably find yourself going through the motions of doing the same exercises, following the same sets and rep patterns that you did the previous week, month or even year! You’re pretty bored by now, not seeing much of a difference in your physique and your results are looking pretty average.
Get out your comfort zone and mix things up! We’re in an age where the Internet and mobile apps are full of information and programmes to give your training a refresh and put you out your comfort zone. Bodyspace is one of my favourite apps full of programmes written by top pros and thousands of people like you and I; try them! If it’s not your programme you struggle with but motivation then hire a PT to give you that extra push. We dedicate a lot of time in the gym so you want to make sure it’s time well spent.
WAY 2: TAKE A WEEK OFF TRAINING
Sometimes hitting a plateau is your body telling you to chill out and take a break. Trust me you’ll know when your body tells you this because that week of training will be pretty crap in the lead up to needing a break. “How long should I have off?” I recommend taking one week off at a time. You shouldn’t need to take time off too often though, no more than a week off every 12 weeks or so. You’ll be amazed how revived and energised you’ll feel. You might even surprise yourself with a few PR’s when you come back too.
WAY 3: STRUCTURE A DELOAD WEEK
If you’re like me and find it hard to take a week completely off from training then structure in deload weeks. These are weeks that you take your foot off the gas a little by reducing the weights you lift. I usually work to around 60% of my max on each exercise and hit between 10 and 20 reps (depending on the exercise). My main goal of a deload week is not to train to failure and leave a couple reps in the tank. After I take a deload week my body feels rested and ready to go! I get super motivated and hungry to get back to hitting some good weights in the gym.
WAY 4: TAKE A ‘DIET BREAK’
When it comes to fat loss, if you’ve been dieting for months on end, your hormones will get supressed, which will inevitably affect your fat loss. When you’ve tried everything you can possibly try then now is a good time to take a diet break and just chill out for a week, eating a fairly normal diet. Don’t track your macros, don’t restrict your calories, just eat. This will help restore some of those suppressed hormones and give you some great psychological benefit too; feeling fuller and therefore happier. That week of training you’ll be full of energy and motivation to train hard.
WAY 5: HAVE A RE-FEED DAY
If you’ve not been dieting for a very long time but feel like your training has gone flat or your fat loss has dramatically slowed down then it sounds like the time to introduce a refeed day. A refeed day involves eating to your maintenance calories or upwards into a surplus of calories coming from carbs. Keep your protein and fat fairly stable and increase your carb intake across the day; eating a range of complex carb sources with some more simple carbs around training. I usually feel full of energy the day following a refeed and take advantage by hitting a big muscle group like legs or back and end up having an awesome session! Have a refeed day once a week or use it on one of those days you feel flat and your energy levels are low.