You are doing all the right things to reach your goals: To build muscle and shape. To lose those last few pounds. Or both.
But it seems you’re just maintaining, despite every drop of sweat. Now what?
First, did you experiment with the ideas in last week’s post? Where we laid out three ways to move the needle with diet to break through a plateau?
If not, you can catch up HERE. But this week we’re continuing the breaking-a-plateau theme through the lens of exercise.
Here are my top three (and, there’s a bonus at the end!):
Do “Uncomfortable” Cardio
The first thing that came to mind was Burst or HIIT training. And yes, that can be very helpful if you’re not doing that already (but you’re savvy, so I know you are ;-)).
Rather, I’m talking about what makes you uncomfortable mentally.
If you have thoughts like . . .
- I haven’t gone on a hike in years (or ever!)
- I’ve never taken a spin class – I wouldn’t know what I’m doing
- Trying a crossfit class intimidates me
- Vinyasa Yoga is for skinny girls that don’t really like to workout
- Walking is for people that have injuries that prevent them from really working out
- I love my Stair Stepper – I can’t cheat on it with other kinds of exercise 😉
. . . then it might be time to embrace something completely different for just a week or two.
It will shock your body, as well as your mind, which can get you better results when you’re back to a more typical routine.
Raise the Bar . . . bell
If you regularly lift heavy things (and you should be!), then it might be time to check in on your intensity.
Evaluate how “hard” you’re going. Then challenge yourself to go at least 10% harder (without injuring yourself, of course!).
Here’s the deal.
You may be going hard with your lifting – sweating, reaching “failure”, etc. – and you may think I can’t possibly push myself any more.
And I believe you. I do. But you can do more, even if the “more” is only in your mind and your muscles haven’t caught up yet.
For a workout or two, try this.
When you reach exhaustion with a lift – or failure – pause just long enough to get another rep out. It won’t take long – Five seconds? Ten seconds? Then rep out another. You could, with effort, get another few reps out, which presents a new challenge for your muscles.
You’ve set a bar that they can’t quite reach, although they’re trying.
That perpetuates a positive metabolic shift, and creates a need for cellular repair which gives some of that high quality food you’re eating, a job to do.
You certainly don’t have to lift that way all the time – but for a week or so, as a change-up, it can make a world of difference.
Embrace the Opposite of Your Workout Routine
Look at what you’re currently doing and imagine what (in some capacity) the opposite would be.
Then for one week, do it.
It might look something like this:
- Doing all HIIT cardio switches to all low intensity brisk walking or longer, easier steady state for a week
- All machine cardio switches to a Burpee challenge, a beach run or track run
- Lifting mostly heavy every resistance workout switches to lighter weight high reps for a week
- Working out 6 days a week for the past four months swithces to one week off from all structured workouts
- Weight lifting followed by cardio switches to a week of circuit training
- Mon/Wed/Fri stair stepper switches to Mon/Wed/Fri Spin Class for a week
You get the idea. For one week, flip your structured workouts on their head.
When you jump back into your regular layouts, you’ll find you’re renewed and the same ‘ol takes on new life.
Bonus: Create a Sleep and Water Outlier
Here’s a bonus that can add fuel to your plateau-breaking fire.
Now I know you’re getting regular, adequate sleep and plenty of water (and if you paused and raised your eyebrows, then this tip will really help!). However, whatever you’re doing currently – try to increase it by 10 – 100% for a day or two.
Wait a sec. Be reasonable.
If you’re already drinking a gallon of water, you don’t want two!
But, you might begin your day by “soaking the soil” – similar to when you water a plant and the soil gets soaked all at once – you don’t dribble a few drops every couple hours all day long.
Start your day off with drinking in the first 20 minutes what you would usually drink in the first several hours. This probably will increase your water for the day without really trying, and will be an outlier in the week’s normal intake.
For sleep – same thing.
If you’re used to going to bed at 10 pm, then pick a day and go to bed at 8:30 pm. Don’t laugh. Do your bed time routine early. Turn out the lights, shut the shades, do some deep breathing, and read a boring book. You just may doze off early and get an extra hour or two of slumber.
See? An outlier in your normal week!
Let me know what you’ve tried, and before you forget – click a social share button below. Your friends will thank you for being so cool ;-).