Updated: Sep 1, 2021
A fitness plateau is when you have followed a fitness program for a period of time and was making progress, but then progress slowed down, stopped or possibly even regressed.
First, make sure you have not stopped adhering to the program. Critically look at your daily habits. Before adjusting a program that works for you, determine if you are still eating and exercising as outlined in your plan without getting the same results.
If you are, you may need to adjust your plan a bit.
Because our bodies can adapt well to stresses placed on them, overtime weight loss or muscle gain can starts to slow down. There are several biological factors that cause this normal process.
If you are working with a Personal Trainer or Nutritionist, they should be aware of these possibilities and adjust your program accordingly to avoid plateaus all together.
If you are not working with a trainer, plateaus are easy to spot if you are staying consistent with your program. Change ups to exercise and nutrition are necessary to help the metabolism stay fired up. The body can get “lazy” and simply adjust to an exercise program or certain number of calories eaten so it doesn't have to work as hard at burning calories.
Here's what you need to evaluate to determine if you are in a plateau.
Have you been vigilantly working a fitness program that includes healthy nutrition and exercise, and followed it consistently for six to eight weeks?
Have you had at least one progress assessment within this same period were your personal data showed satisfactory progress? Meaning, the program was working for you.
Are you really being consistent? Have you changed even one thing about your program? This includes following your program with the same discipline, intensity and commitment as when you started.
If the answer to all three of these questions is yes, you may be at a physical plateau. Here are a few things that should help.
Analyze how many active hours you have consistently in a week. The first benchmark for physical activity is 5 - 7 hours a week. If you are still below seven hours a week, this is a good time to increase movement. For instance, if you are exercising four hours a week, bump it up to five hours.
If you are consistently active for seven hours of activity each week or if you have lost body weight, it may be time to look at your food.
If you are trying to lose weight, your daily calories should adjust down as your body weight comes down. Visit with your trainer or Nutritionist on what your calories should be or calculate them here.
If you are trying to gain weight or muscle, your caloric intake may need to be adjusted up. Muscle requires more calories than body fat to sustain. As your muscle mass increases, so should your food. Visit with your trainer or Nutritionist on what your calories should be or calculate them here.
If your activity level is at seven hours a week and you know your caloric intake is good, the next active benchmark is 7 - 9 hours a week of physical activity. Which means, it is time to increase movement once again to achieve the physique you want.
If you were not able to answer yes to all these questions, more than likely of being in a fitness plateau, you may be in a psychological plateau. It is common to get "lazy" mentally as well as physically, when working towards goals that will take time to achieve. But that does not mean you should quit or adjust a program that works for you. If you think you just need ideas to get your motivation back we discuss some here.