Hit a Plateau? Switch Up Your Workout!
We’ve all been there. Finally finding a workout you love, consistently smashing PBs, feeling strong, confident, and relieved to have an exercise routine that works for you.
Then, a few months later, the dreaded plateau emerges. Whether you stop seeing the physical results that kept you motivated at the start, or your mental stamina is just no longer there, plateaus are totally normal.
The good news is, they don’t have to stop us.
Our bodies are made to be resilient. For the most part, it’s a good thing that our bodies can adapt and become used to how we treat it. Once we cut sugar from our diet, we crave it less. When we drink only one coffee a day instead of four, the headaches subside and our bodies feel good.
Our bodies plateau due to an adaptive mechanism but it’s not always advantageous when it comes to weight-loss, building strength, or sticking to a healthy lifestyle. So, what can we do?
When you’ve hit a plateau in your fitness, it’s time to switch things up. It doesn’t mean you have to do a 180 on however you love to exercise, but it does mean you should think about a complementary workout routine to give you an extra boost.
We also need to make sure we have the right mindset. It’s so important to look at fitness as a journey, not a destination. That way, when it’s time to switch things up, it doesn’t feel like a failure. Instead, it’s just part of the process.
Here, we’re exploring some workouts that go really well together. Hopefully, these perfect pairs will give you a better idea of how to blast through a plateau, no matter what kind of workouts you love.
If you’re into functional fitness, hit up some HIIT.
Functional fitness is hugely popular – and for good reason. In these sessions you’ll be deadlifting, squatting, and, in general, working on movement that you’ll likely use in your everyday life. Get it? “Functional” fitness.
With functional fitness, however, you’re probably not getting a lot of pure cardio exercise and if you feel like you’re in a rut, HIIT cardio workouts will likely suit you.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and is characterised by short periods of intense exercise in between regular breaks. For example, sprints are considered HIIT workouts, going from explosive running at the top of your limit mixed with periods of walking sprinkled throughout.
The idea is to improve your heart’s ability to return to its resting state. The quicker this happens, the more “fit” you are.
If you’re a functional fitness guru, you’ll probably like HIIT circuit training. Burpees, crab walks, push-ups, and lunges are all examples of HIIT exercises you can add into a circuit and are great compliments to your CrossFit style regimen.
So, if your feeling tired of the heavy weights and low reps (or if your body isn’t showing the same results it used to), swap a few functional days for HIIT days and give yourself that boost you’ve been craving.
If you’re a dancer, you’ll love Pilates.
Dancers and gymnasts are often cursed with the necessity to be both strong and flexible. Plus, these intensive forms of movement can easily lead to injury. It’s why so many gravitate toward methods like Pilates which gives them a more gentle, yet effective workout.
If your absolute favorite workout is Zumba, dance cardio, or if you’re a professional dancer or gymnast, Pilates or barre-method classes could be beneficial the next time your body needs a change of pace.
These low-intensity workouts are a great way to focus on your core, your breath, and injury prevention all while sculpting your muscles to keep your body doing what you love.
If you’re a runner, try some yoga.
We all have that one friend who can’t get enough of running or cycling. These long-distance pros finish races before the sun is even awake and they have the lean bodies to prove it. But it’s no secret that these sports can be tough on your body – especially your joints.
That’s where yoga comes in.
If you’re a runner who conveniently “forgets” to warm up or cool down, yoga could be your savior. Pigeon pose can loosen up those aching hips and downward dog feels great on tight calves. Your cycling bod will feel oh so good once you get the hang of it.
Plus, many long-distance runners and cyclists find their sport to be super meditative. That’s why yoga is such a great alternative when you’ve hit a plateau in your training. Yoga offers that zen experience in a gentler way, making it running and cycling’s perfect “other half.”
P.S. All of these work the other way around, too!
Yogis should try going for a run to activate their breath and practice their mantras. HIIT lovers should jump into a functional fitness session to boost their muscle mass. And if you’re obsessed with the Pilates reformer, try out ballroom dance class in your area.
Plateaus? Psh, no problem.
What’s your go-to way to get over a workout plateau? @lornajaneactive
Kaylee is a freelance arts and fitness writer based in Brisbane. She was a professional dancer for nearly a decade which took her from theme parks to cruise ships to Las Vegas. Eventually, she moved from her native Florida to Australia and now, she shares stories of transition. Follow her here x