Plateaus – Stuck in a Rut

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Plateau - Stuck in a  RutStuck in a rut with no progress?


Plateau is a phenomenon of the human body’s adaptation process. A plateau is a period where the body is matched with it’s current conditions and no major changes are seen. No change in body weight or body fat, no changes in muscle mass, no changes in performance. When there are no changes at all, this means the body has fully adapted to the person’s current lifestyle routines and ┬áis actually in equilibrium, a state of balance. Our bodies naturally attempt to adapt to whatever circumstances and demands are put on them and reach this balanced state. For example if we begin a new resistance exercise routine that’s challenging and requires more strength than we currently have, our body will adapt by building more muscle. If we begin to change our eating habits in order to lose weight and reduce our calorie intake, our body will adapt to this too by beginning to burn body fat. Once the progress stops, our body has reached an equilibrium with our current routine.

Whatever it is that you are working to achieve as far as changes to your body go, is of course ultimately limited by our genetics, but we can always alter our routine in some way to continue to work toward the progress we are wanting. When the progress stops, this is actually a positive sign that your body has fully adapted to your current routines and is ready for something new and different to adapt to. Weight loss plateaus occur when the calories you are eating match the calories you are burning, hence no weight loss. To continue to see progress, it will likely be necessary to either increase activity in order to burn more calories, or further reduce calorie intake. For muscle building or other performance improvements, when we no longer see progress it is again a sign that the body has fully adapted to all of your past training and it may be necessary to make changes to your program to continue to see further results.


Tips to Avoid Plateau:

  • Expect plateaus to happen (because they will) and proactively adjust your routines
  • Find your motivation to challenge yourself and keep going!
  • Imagine your success to stay positive
  • Keep food and exercise logs to keep track and make necessary adjustments
  • Be aware of creeping changes in routines. Eating more than you think? Not working as hard at exercise?
  • Making changes can be challenging, push through, it will get easier just like past changes did
  • Try something new, a new exercise, a new food, shake things up!
  • Adjust workout routines often, try new equipment, different number of sets or reps


Can’t bust the plateau? Try searching our Merchant Directory for a professional personal trainer, nutrition specialist, or fitness service.


Author: Tony Montijo, BS Kinesiology, CPT, CES