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The Dreaded Plateau

Achieving your fitness goals is a great feeling. Losing your progress sucks. But staying the same for a long period of time can be pure torture. Stagnation in fitness is a real problem and one that you might need to try different things to break.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, get stronger, or perform better in a sport, hitting a plateau is inevitable. If it were possible to maintain constant progress in fitness people would be running faster than cheetahs and lifting cars with their bare hands. At some point, progress must slow down.

However, if you’re seeing progress and it suddenly grinds to a halt, your first reaction might be to immediately change strategies. However, the first strategy for breaking a plateau is to get insanely consistent.

Let’s say you’re losing one pound per week. Then, a month goes by and you notice you haven’t lost any weight. The first question you should ask is: am I sticking to my original plan? Are you still doing the things that make progress in the first place?

Once you start making progress, take note of the things that you changed to get there. Is it your workout? Diet? Are you getting more sleep, or taking more time to de-stress? Maybe a little bit of everything?

Typically, once you find something that will bring results, you shouldn’t change it too much. Stick to your plan and let the results come. Even if they slow down, stay consistent. Progress will come and go.

The next strategy is to do more. If you’ve been lifting 30 pounds every workout for 3 months and you don’t know why you’re not getting stronger, try moving up to 35. Even if you can’t do as many reps, moving up in weight should stimulate your body to increase strength.

Be careful with this strategy, because it’s easy to overdo it. Progress takes time, and more is not always better. That’s why the third strategy is to take a break.

If you’re not making any progress, can’t figure out a solution, and have been increasing your effort to the point where you feel like you’ve gone too far, it’s time to take a step back. Taking a break from your diet or workouts is fine every once in a while.

When you’re taking a break, you’ll be able to look at your strategy from a distance and think about what you might need to change, if anything. It also gives your body a chance to recover and can boost your motivation so that you come back stronger.

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