Plateauing can be disconcerting. You’re putting in all this effort at the gym and not seeing the results that you want. You want to improve, but your body is saying “no.” What the heck is going wrong?
It turns out that our bodies have powerful mechanisms in place to limit our adaptive response to exercise. The body allows a small amount of adaptation to cope with the increased stresses and strains that we put on it, but then, after a while, it decides that enough is enough, and it’s not going to change any further.
The reasons for this somewhat annoying habit was evolutionarily important. Adding bigger and stronger muscles is a highly energy-intensive task; precious energy that people needed to conserve just in case of famine throughout human history. Evolution baked plateaus into us in a powerful way.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t push through plateaus. Even people at the top of their sport find ways to improve their bodies and perform better. The trick is to find out how.
The good news is that you’re probably a lot further from your body’s limits than you think, meaning that there’s plenty of room left to improve. Here’s why you might not be busting through those plateaus.
You’re Not Switch Up Your Routine
One of the first things that you learn when you take part in online fitness coaching is that you need to switch up your routine. Mixing things up doesn’t just make training more interesting; it shocks your muscles in new ways.
Muscles try to do whatever they can to make exercise easier. Over time, they learn to fire in the most efficient way possible, doing more work without necessarily taxing themselves to the limit. As somebody looking to break through a plateau, you have to find a way of tricking them or shocking them into new growth. If you keep hitting your biceps with three sets of ten reps at the same weight, they’ll get used to it and won’t adapt. You need to mix it by changing the exercise, the number of reps, or the weight – and sometimes all three.
Your Stress Levels Are Off The Charts
Ever wondered why many of the world’s leading bodybuilders seem so chill? It’s so that they can put their bodies in a chemical state which will facilitate the growth of new muscles. High levels of stress can interrupt the muscle-building process and increase levels of cortisol, a hormone which prevents the laying down of new tissue. Do you want to improve your body further? Check your stress levels and act accordingly.
You Aren’t Eating Enough Fibre
Fibre is a crucial nutrient, even though you don’t derive any energy from it. Fibre is food for the billions of microorganisms that live in your gut. The more food you feed them, the more active your microbiome, and the more beneficial compounds bacteria start churning out. Breaking through a plateau could be as simple as eating things like beets, green leafy veggies, citrus and berries – many of the foods our ancestors would have enjoyed.