The 8 Reasons You Hit a Workout Plateau (and How to Beat It)

If you're consistent with your workouts but stopped seeing results, you may have hit a workout plateau. Whatever you do, don't let that stop you! Here's how you can overcome your exercise plateau and take your fitness to the next level.

You do the same workout every day

iStock/ferrantraite

Depending on your fitness goals, experts suggest you should switch up your exercise routine every two to five weeks to see maximum results and avoid an exercise plateau. Plateaus happen when the body begins to adjust to the demands your exercise routine requires of it. Once your body adapts to a fitness routine, you're not likely to see many benefits until you make adjustments that force your body to move and work in new and exciting ways. Here are signs you need to switch up your workout.

You don't know what changes to make to your fitness routine

iStock/bartekszewczyk

Regardless of your fitness level, everyone needs to periodically alter their fitness plans to continually experience workout results. However, many people don't know the ways in which they should change their workouts to experience benefits. A good place to start: bodybuilding.com, one of the world's most popular fitness websites. There, you can find suggestions for getting out of your workout slump. Where should you make adjustments? Try changing your sets, reps, weight, the type of exercise you're doing, your intensity, or the length of your workout.

You're training too hard

iStock/portra

Are you trying to push yourself from beginning to end during every workout? If so, you might be experiencing a workout plateau because of overtraining. Signs of overtraining include muscle and joint pain, fatigue, an overall lack of energy, frequently catching a cold or flu, and headaches (different from what you might normally get). Why does this happen? Strenuous exercise causes your muscle tissue to break down. Your body must have adequate rest in order to rebuild and repair your muscles and achieve optimal results from your fitness program. To avoid overtraining, give your body a full week of rest after four to six weeks of intense exercise. Yes, sometimes less exercise (not more) is best to overcoming a workout rut. Here's 12 times you should absolutely skip your workout.

You need to pump up your workout

iStock/bogdankosanovic

On the flip side, an activity that isn't challenging you probably isn't going to yield your desired results. To inject some energy into your workout, sweat sessions like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or an ambitious circuit training class can be a valuable departure from your typical workout. You'll also keep your mind and body stimulated, and target different muscle groups. Need some workout inspiration? Try this scientifically proven motivation technique.

Content continues below ad

It's time to work with a trainer

iStock/neustockimages

If you've tried everything to bust through your exercise plateau without success, consider enlisting the help of a personal trainer. Even if you can't afford a trainer on a consistent basis, periodically scheduling a session with an expert can give you fresh ideas, improve your form, help you strategize to achieve your fitness goals, and hold you accountable to your workout schedule. Ask your gym about personal training packages, but know it's also okay to use a Groupon or some other discount to try out a trainer. But first, read these secrets personal trainers won't tell you.

You're not keeping tabs of your nutrition

iStock/elena_danileiko

The kinds of foods you eat could be halting your momentum. If you're on a tight budget, try using a food diary to record how you feel after eating certain meals. Keep in mind, a few sessions with a nutritionist can also help you find the right blend of protein, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, and carbs to create energy-packed meals and snacks to support your fitness goals.

You don't get enough sleep

iStock/andresr

Sleep and fitness go hand-in-hand, so losing sleep can sabotage your diet. To keep the hormones that signal hunger in check, shoot for a recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep also means you're less likely to have the crucial energy to make it to the gym or the necessary rest needed for your muscles to adequately recover. Bottom line: Your sleep schedule should be as important for seeing workout results as your actual fitness plan. Check out our essential guide to deeper sleep.

Your goals aren't realistic

iStock/uberimages

Perhaps the most important way to achieve a new level of fitness is to keep things in perspective. First, find activities that fit your lifestyle and that you enjoy doing. If you hate running, that's probably not going to be the exercise that promotes positive change in your life. Second, make realistic fitness goals. Before you push yourself too hard at a workout you've never tried before, start with a beginner class and learn the basics. Don't hesitate to ask for help or modifications if something doesn't feel right to you. Your goal is to overcome a plateau and enhance your fitness, not injure yourself or reach a state of burnout.

Content continues below ad

View as Slideshow

Want to stay smart and healthy?

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.