How frustrating is it to finally commit to a long-term relationship with working out (so dedicated you’re on a first name basis with all the trainers at your gym), but still feel like you’re at a fitness stand-still? Answer: very.
The fitness plateau struggle is real, so to gain some intel on how to break through it, we tapped Ariane Hundt, fitness expert and clinical nutritionist, who has worked to develop plateau-busting workout plans that specifically cater to her always-evolving fitness goals.
Her first bit of fitness wisdom? Less is more. “Too much of a good thing will backfire and you’ll compensate, not just with more carbs, but metabolically because the metabolism and thyroid smarten up in a matter of two weeks of being pushed,” Hundt says.
In simpler terms, your metabolism will adjust to whatever you throw at it, so resorting to two-a-days in hopes of seeing continued results is probably not the way to go. Here’s what to try instead.
Keep reading for 5 trainer-approved fitness tips that’ll take your workout routine to the next level.
1. Follow your interests
While your best friend might be hitting up the local barre studio every morning and your Instagram is full of CrossFit queens, those workouts might not be for you—and that’s totally okay.
“Too many women choose to push themselves into workouts that make them feel more exhausted or don’t get them results instead of tuning in and listening to their bodies when they feel tired, worn out, or don’t see the changes they should be seeing.” Sound familiar?
Rather than forcing yourself to bang out burpees if you literally hate them, do something you actually want to do—whether that’s breaking out in a random dance party in your bedroom, taking a yoga class, or tackling that CrossFit workout.
2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate.
No matter what kind of workout you choose, you need to be hydrated in order to perform at your peak. “The basic aspects of hydration help deliver oxygen to working muscles, essentially helping them breath and work properly,” explains Vishal Patel, director of product development at Nuun Hydration.
Using a drink mix like Nuun Sport—a hydrating blend of electrolytes, minerals, and caffeine—about an hour before your gym sesh can help you hit your hydration goals more easily, encourage your muscles to work more efficiently with less cramping, and help the body better regulate its core temperature, all of which will contribute to your feeling like you kicked your workout’s butt (and not the other way around).
Plus, Hundt notes that hydration is also crucial for proper post-workout recovery because fluids transport the nutrients that help repair and rebuild muscles. And the better your recovery, the better your next workout will be, and the more easily you’ll overcome that plateau. See the pattern?
3. Don’t underestimate sleep
Every workout requires recovery to get your body ready for the next one. The best way to do that? Nope, not foam rolling. Getting enough sleep is Hundt’s top piece of advice for amping up your workouts.
“Adequate recovery to allow the body to recover from the stress placed on it during an intense workout is [so] important,” Hundt says. “A workout should be skipped in favor of sleep when various signs signal the body is in stress mode, such as a significant increase in appetite, cravings and drop in energy.”
For Hundt, adequate recovery equals at least eight hours of sleep per night, but if you’re having trouble clocking those eight hours (no matter how tired you feel), Nuun Rest can help you find those zzz’s.
Made with tart cherry extract to reduce inflammation, and magnesium to send you to a state of Zen, think of restful sleep as your new WBFF (workout best friend forever). “And since there aren’t any sleep-inducing ingredients, only some that work naturally with your body to calm down and relax, it can be consumed a couple hours after a workout instead of right before bed,” Patel adds.
4. Adjust your workouts to your mood
You nixed the workouts you don’t actually enjoy from your routine, but if you like spin and yoga, how do you choose? Don’t be too rigid with your workout schedule, Hundt advises. Instead, pair the intensity of your workout with what your body feels up for that day.
“My workouts match my metabolic needs,” she says. “If I’m stressed or sleep-deprived I will not make the stress more intense by doing HIIT sessions or spin workouts, but rather focus on a short lift, followed by a calming recovery session,” Hundt adds. You have permission to take a break from the bike.
5. Don’t forget about active recovery
Sometimes you’re just going to need a rest day, and those are key to a fitness routine, too—so important, Hundt considers recovery (and sleep!) equally as important as hours logged in the gym.
“I regularly practice calming techniques, such as deep breathing, hypnosis, visualization and meditation to reduce stress hormone activity after intense workout sessions and I also walk several miles a day to stay out of fight-or-flight mode,” Hundt says of her recovery routine.
The main takeaway? Many of the things that’ll take your workouts up a notch don’t even involve stepping into a gym or studio—it’s just about listening to what your body needs, which is all the rest, recovery, and hydration possible. Plateau, busted.
In partnership with Nuun
Top photo: Studio Firma/ Stocksy
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