When it comes to training regularly, there are a lot of things that can really get in the way of your progress. Inconviniences, excuses, demotivation... it all takes a serious toll. Even worse however, is when you face a dreaded training plateau. Getting into a rut can put a serious dampner on things. When the progress stops, it's not rare for your motivation to stop too. Luckily, there's something you can do about it.

Annoyingly, it's not a quick fix. Training plateaus are really complicted. It doesn’t matter if you're training at home, the gym, with weight training, for weight loss...  pretty much everything can be affected by plateaus and put a huge halt on your progress. But, don't give up hope.

When these training plateaus do occur, you need to spring into action, ASAP. Step one is to find out why they're happening in the first place. You need to have a long hard look at your training, diet and lifestyle and see if you can spot the problem areas. Once you've done that, you can decide which of these remedies fit the bill to get you back on the road to progress.


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.


Method 1. Rest

Woman sat on a bed writing and gazing out of the window

One of the most common reasons for stunting your fitness progress is because you are not giving yourself enough time to rest around your training. This can lead straight into other issues such as overtraining, or the opposite which is just not giving yourself enough time to recover.

Your rest time is absolutely essential. There's no argument. It's when you have the most time to allow your muscles to repair and your body to heal. If you don’t let yourself have this time, you’ll soon see a stop in your progress no matter how well you're trianing.

Rest isn't just a physical benefit to training plateau busting, either. If you don't give yourself enough rest time over a longer duration, you may see reductions in your attitude and energy levels which is going to make things even worse than the lack of recovery. It's just generally a recipe for disaster. Rest is crucial, get more!

Method 2. Exercise Variation

Many people find that as time goes on and they are confident in what it is they are doing in their workouts, they get a little too comfy. We're all guilty of wanting an easy ride where we can. We do the same things over and over again without changing anything. It makes sense, too. Why change what works?

Well, we need to nip that in the bud here and now if you want to escape the training plateau it's landed you in. The body is designed for efficiency. The more used to your routine your body gets, the less work it will have to do to adapt. Your muscles will be used to what it is you're demanding of them, and that all-important shock factor demanding change is weakened.

One of the best things you can use to get out of your plateau is to change up your workouts completely. Add or remove exercises, try new training styles that do the same thing, or even try changing up the equipment that you're using to do them so that you're keeping things fresh. Whatever you do, just spice it up! You'll soon see your results carrying on from a similar place to where you stopped!

Method 3. Nutrition Boost

man and a woman preparing food in the kitchen

Let's put this one into context, as a lot of people just don't realise it. If you plateau but are going to the gym to try and build more muscle five times a week, and then coming home to a starvation diet or just eating fast food on your way home because you feel like you've earned it, you're probably not going to see the results you're looking for.

Bulking is the most common excuse for this, with ‘I've earned it after working hard' being the second. If you eat right, your results will be massively better than if you don't

It's essential that you have a balanced diet with the right amount of different macronutrients if you are wanting to see the results you're working so hard for! Carbs when you're training, healthy fats when you're not, and protein for muscle growth. You need all of them!

Method 4. Train harder

This may seem more obvious than the others but stick with us. another incredibly training plateau busting tip is to simply crank things up a notch. Training harder doesn't have to just be going to the gym more often, but train harder than you are doing.

If you're training for endurance and your stamina is not getting any better, try changing to a different cardio machine after you hit the wall. The same goes for strength training. If you are finding that you are failing at specific times with specific exercises, try changing the order of your workouts so that you are fatiguing different muscles at different times. Is weight loss slowing down? Try out a HIIT class instead of walking 7 hours a week, or the other way around!

Weight training is one of the best ways to do this, as it has so many different benefits for every single goal there is. You use more muscles, increases resting energy expenditure, shock your system... it all helps massively!

Method 5. Set variation

Man weight lifting

One final point about getting out of the dreaded training plateau is to begin changing your set variation. Your sets determine a lot more than you may first think about the progress that you will make from carrying out your workouts. Using set styles let drop sets or, for example, can be a great way to push yourself further than you would typically be able to push yourself.

These tactics as well as adding variation in your workouts mean that you can do more reps than you usually could and overload your muscles in massively different ways!

If things get more extreme, you can even begin to include set styles like negative reps or assisted reps. They aren't quite the same as a standard set pattern where you do all the work, but can still be the difference between your progress and failure. They give you that extra push in muscle overload to provide you with the boost to be able to do it on your own the next time you try.

Take a step back

After you’ve done all of these to try and get yourself back on track with the progress you want, it can also be wise to take a reflective look at what you’re doing to get in and out of your training plateau.

Reflection and monitoring are hugely important parts of any long-term plan, and exercising isn’t an exception to this. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you need to really think about it.

When you take this reflective approach, it's important to look at the goals you started with. Most of the time, it's wise to reset your goal and make a new one, as you aren't the same person that you were when you first started.

You might have had more weight to lose when you first made the goal or more muscle to gain than you do now. Progress has to slow down eventually, or there would be nothing left to train for but maintenance, and that's not how the human body is designed.

Your goals should be as flexible as you are.

Remember

All of these methods are important to consider when you find yourself getting stuck in a training plateau, but the key is to vary your training where you can. You also need to do what's right outside of your training, like rest well, eat right, and generally work as smart as you do hard. Stay motivated and keep pushing, and you should get there eventually.

Just remember that it happens to everyone.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.