Have you ever hit a fitness plateau? Have you ever known you were on the plateau right when you hit it? I recently hit a plateau and didn’t realize it for a couple of weeks. I couldn’t figure out how I could be teaching indoor cycling classes at least three times a week, playing volleyball at least three times a week, and be gaining weight.
Let’s back up: What is a plateau?
Dictionary.com says the following:
a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
Psychology. a period of little or no apparent progress in an individual’s learning, marked by an inability to increase speed, reduce number of errors, etc., and indicated by a horizontal stretch in a learning curve or graph.
Okay, but what does that have to do with fitness?
A few months ago, I felt like a day couldn’t go by without my muscles being sore in one body part or another. I could see muscles starting to come out of hibernation, and I could do things with more ease than the months prior. But at some point a few weeks ago, I stopped noticing changes. I used to go through at least one water bottle teaching each indoor cycling, but now I barely take more than a couple of sips. My heart rate and calorie burn while teaching classes have dropped. I stopped noticing changes and celebrating victories. I had hit a plateau.
I think he’s on to something. But what caused it, and what can you do next?
Nerd Fitness has some questions for consideration to see if you’ve hit a plateau or if you’re experiencing some other type of fitness obstacle. I answered the questions, and I’m for sure in the plateau, or even “the dip.”
We all hit plateaus in our lives and quests for health and happiness. In order to be successful at the task at hand, we need to grind our way through that low point (or flat point) until we can climb out and continue progress. – Nerd Fitness
Their solutions to overcoming plateaus are: track every step, rep, and workout, collect tiny wins, and track metrics aside from the scale. So this is my directive for overcoming this plateau! I’m going to work on finding other things to track and celebrate even the smallest changes. I’m getting my first ever Dexa Scan within the next week so this should help me track metrics aside from weight loss.
My endurance has improved through all of my indoor cycling, but my strength is really where I see a lot of room for improvement. I’m already seeing myself get stronger as I focus on strengthening my hip flexors, upper body, and core, but I have a ways to go. I’m happy with my progress so far, though, and I am on track to get out of this plateau and on to hitting bigger health and fitness targets.
The American Heart Association recommends using the F.I.T.T. principle to overcome a plateau: frequency (how often you exercise), intensity (based on heart rate zones), time (duration of the workout), type. I’ve been focused mainly on the intensity of my workouts lately, as I felt I had been taking it a bit easy on myself, and I’m starting to see results already.
Now that I’m armed with tools to combat my plateau, I am ready for another wave of success! So take that, fitness plateau!