Hitting The Plateau: How To Challenge The Body

  • October 8th, 2012
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The human body is amazing, but when it comes to training the body can adapt to a new routine very quickly and reach a plateau where there are no additional benefits to gain. However, there are exercises and specific routines that can challenge the body, and that is exactly what is needed during the plateau.

What is the Plateau?

The plateau is simply a stage the body reaches during an exercise routine when it does not gain any additional benefits. This is often the reason why you may not notice muscle gains. In theory, the body becomes lazy, as it is no longer being pushed to its limits. An obvious sign that you have reached a plateau is an inability to gain endurance, strength and muscle gain. Low motivation is also a downside to the plateau, as exercise is as much psychological as it is physical. Why would you push your body to its limits if not to gain something? Athletes push their body to the limit to win!

Try a Different Routine

It can be difficult to want to change a specific routine, but if your muscles are not gaining in strength, it may be time to challenge the body in other ways. The body adapts well to change, so even if the change is to perform more repetitions of a specific exercise, be rest assured that the body is now being challenged. Overtraining the body can lead to free radical damage, as the body requires sufficient rest to heal muscle tissue, but it is possible to train daily by either training the upper or lower body on alternate days. Also aim to change the order in which you perform exercises, as this will challenge the body and encourage muscle growth.

Eat Consistently Throughout The Day

A change to an exercise routine may not encourage any gains, especially if the body is not receiving the nutrition it needs. An increase in physical activity requires more calories. Aim to eat protein with every meal. Good sources include avocados, nuts and seeds and oily fish, which are abundant in essential fatty acids. There is evidence to suggest that eating consistently throughout the day can take advantage of dietary thermogenesis, which is the rate at which the body burns calories during digestion. However, just because the body can consume more calories does not mean that the calories can come from foods void of nutrition. Stay away from processed foods, and instead make your own power bars with mixed nuts and dried fruit. No hydrogenated fats required, as nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats and protein. Other excellent food choices to eat as snacks include hummus and wholemeal pitas and peanut butter on rice or oatcakes.

Change the Frequency, Intensity and Time (FIT)

Staying FIT is an excellent way to burn through a plateau. The frequency of training needs to either increase or decrease, dependent on how often you train. Intensity also needs to increase, as this shocks the body into change. Aim to cut down the time it takes for you to perform your workout, which will mean upping the intensity. It is a fact that muscle can break down during longer workouts, so aim to keep the workout within the 30-minute range, as this is when the body releases growth hormones.

Get Sufficient Sleep

Intensive training is challenging for the muscles, which require time to heal and repair, so make sure that you get sufficient sleep. The peak time when the body is better able to regenerate and repair muscle tissue is between the hours of 11.00 PM to 1.00 AM.

Concentrate on Building Muscle

It is impossible to notice lean muscle mass if it is hiding underneath fat tissue, and it is common to want to burn fat at the same time as building muscle mass. It is better to have set days for weight and cardio training. Too much cardio can inhibit the body’s ability to burn through a plateau, as production of testosterone is reduced. Aim to perform cardio for no longer than 30-minutes, so that muscle tissue is not affected.

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