The MOVE by BJC Blog

Overcoming Workout Plateaus

Overcoming Workout Plateaus

Friday, February 01, 2019

Have you hit a wall in your workouts? Not seeing progress as frequently as you would like? Here are a few things to analyze about your programming and overall workout routine that may be affecting your progress. Reviewing these can help keep you on track and progressing toward your goals.

  • 1. Load manipulation. Load manipulation and progressive overload are ways to continually challenge your body, by changing our load and/or volume. When we change our load/intensity we are forcing our bodies to adapt. The more frequently we force our bodies to work outside of homeostasis or our natural state of being, the more progress we will see. Your plateau may be caused by not including load manipulation through progressive overload in your program. 

    2. Variety. Including, or not including, variety in your exercise routine can also play a role in your progression or lack thereof. Variety means not only different body parts or muscle groups but also the use of different exercises to target the same muscle groups. You can target the major muscles of the chest and triceps by using push-ups, barbell bench press and dumbbell bench press, but each movement in its own way will lead to different results. Each of these movements, while targeting the same muscle group, have different physiological effects through stabilization, muscle manipulation and physical force. 

    3. Nutrition. This may be the most overlooked cause of plateau in your workout routine. When we think of nutrition, we are often concerned with overeating and keeping our calories (energy source) low. This can be detrimental to a resistance training program. With resistance training we should replenish and exceed calories burned in order to see desired increases. Generally speaking, for increased strength, our diet should include 1.2-2g of protein/kg of body weight.  These numbers are higher for strength trainers than the general population. For personal recommendations, you should consult a registered dietitian. 

    4. Recovery. A fourth factor that can greatly affect plateaus in your workout is your recovery routine. This includes active and passive recovery, hydration, self-massage (foam rolling) and sleep habits. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the importance of sleep. Sleep is often overlooked in the recovery process but plays a major role in training and our everyday lives. Adequate sleep allows our bodies to recover through many pathways. A few specific to resistance training are through increased growth hormone production, increased testosterone release and central nervous system recovery. 

With all training, and especially with goals to increase strength, these are just a few of the many factors you should evaluate to avoid or overcome plateaus. 

- Jessica Varner