Five Ways to Beat Fitness Plateaus

by Jen on January 26, 2014

Wow, it’s hard to believe it’s already Sunday evening. This weekend flew by in a haze of yoga, yoga and more yoga. Literally, I was either practicing, teaching or assisting teacher training 10 hours each day. Needless to say that’s pretty much my idea of perfection and I am overflowing with gratitude and happiness that I’m able to be a part of teacher training on the other side of things. It’s a pretty incredible experience.

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This was a strong yoga week for me overall. I practiced every day except for Friday and two of those were ashtanga practices. I haven’t felt this good and motivated about my yoga practice in a long time. This is a nice segue into talking about plateaus. I definitely feel like my yoga practice has plateaued over the last year. Every time I showed up to practice I took the same type of class and did the same thing. Yes, I can do handstands, arm balances and some more advanced stuff but I wasn’t growing.

I don’t necessarily think that plateaus are a bad thing. It can be overwhelming and take the fun out of fitness when you’re constantly trying to become faster, stronger and fitter and get new PRs. So sometimes it feels really right to do what feels good, especially when  you’re feeling a lot of life demands from other areas like your personal life, work and family. It happens to everyone and sometimes we need the space to just let things be what they are but you reach a point where you crave more. Well, I’m craving more now both in my own practice and in what I bring to my students.

I think the catalyst to breaking out of this plateau was coming back to my ashtanga practice and starting teacher training. I’m feeling so on fire about yoga and ready to bust out of my current state…both physically and spiritually.

Getting back to plateaus…here are some of my tips for breaking out of them (when you’re ready!).

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1. Mix it up.

Always run marathons? Sign up for a 5K and train speed instead. Always practice power yoga with the same teacher? Try a new studio or a completely different type of yoga with a new teacher.

2. Attend a workshop or training.

Sign up for a workshop or study with a “guru” in the CrossFit, fitness, yoga, running world. I always have a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm after workshops and trainings.

3. Try something new.

If running is your one and only but you’re not growing, try strength training to see new gains. Not making any CrossFit progress? Work on your mobility with yoga to improve your posture and movement patterns. Die hard yogi? Go for a run or try a circuit training class.

4. Hire a professional.

How many times have you heard me say…”I need a trainer.” When you’re in a rut, call a professional. Schedule a yoga private, work with a personal trainer…even if it’s just one session. You can always make it work by splitting it with a friend or making it a priority. You don’t have to commit long term but it can give you great new inspiration.

5. Rest more.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive but you might be overtraining which can cause lethargy and a general lack of motivation. Check out this post I wrote with two tests you can do to see if you’re overtrained.

Tell me how you beat plateaus? 

And now, here’s a look at this week’s workouts! I’m totally pleased with the mix I have going here. It was a really good week!

Monday

60 minute hot yoga + 30 minute spin class

Tuesday

Ashtanga practice + circuit training workout

Wednesday

60 minute hot yoga + CrossFit WOD

1,000 m row
THEN
21-15-9-6-3
Burpees
Kettlebell Swings
THEN
1,000 m row

Finished in right over 16 minutes. Great workout!

Thursday

60 minute hot yoga + circuit training class

Friday

2.5 mile run + CrossFit WOD

30 overhead squats
30 v-ups
20 power snatch
2o v-ups
10 squat snatch (I modified to power)
10 v-ups

Finished in a little over 8 minutes

Saturday

60 minute yoga class

Sunday

Ashtanga practice

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 She Rocks Fitness January 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I did a lot of yoga this past week and it felt AWESOME! I find some much comfort, inspiration, and gratitude on the mat, and the community with whom I practice. Great tips on plateaus! I need to change up some of my workouts this week, but still craving lots of yoga. :)

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2 Jen January 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

i couldn’t agree with you more about how i feel on the mat and the community. i am all about going with the workout you’re currently craving. best way to stay balanced and motivated!

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3 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 26, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Love the tips! I’ll be honest and say I really have done much yoga in quite a while. I have tried several classes around where I live but haven’t found an instructor that I’m really too happy with – there are only 2. I have however turned a new focus to strength training as that has been a weakness of mine! I am trying to get out of my plateau.

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4 Jen January 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

sara – it’s ALL about finding a teacher and style that meshes with you! you know what a proponent i am of strength training and i’ve been so happy to see you dialing back a bit on the cardio and adding some of that in. it’s so important for healthy muscles and bones and longevity!

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5 Ava January 26, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Why not quit making references to your private and personal struggles if you are not going to say more. It’s getting old.

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6 Jen January 27, 2014 at 10:24 am

hi ava – i’m not really sure what about this post bothered you so much. in general, i find that my students and readers are happy to hear that i’m human and deal with work, family and personal stress on occasion and that i don’t pretend like everything is perfect all the time. how much detail i choose to share around that is my personal choice. i value and respect not only my privacy but the privacy of my co-workers, friends, family and loved ones and there is no point of me sharing a lot of personal details and stories on the internet. i’m a little surprised to hear that you feel so put out that i’m not sharing those details. if you find that it’s “getting old” for you then i invite you not to read on a daily basis. there are so many other great blogs out there.

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7 Shannon January 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

I love this post! You definitely hit on all the important tips for how to not get bored with workouts. I love trying new classes and seeing what new types of exercise I can experience! Thanks for the ideas!

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8 Amanda Bee January 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

Great tips! I definitely agree with switching it up and trying new things. I haven’t tried attending workshops or hiring a trainer but I might!

I also think that listening to your body and what it wants in a workout can help bust a workout rut. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a rut, but it’s really that I feel obligated to do certain workouts that my body just isn’t craving – I’ll feel like I should be doing intense weight training when what I really want is yoga. So I’ll drag myself to the weightroom and feel really mediocre about it. This year I’ve gotten better about listening to what my body wants, so if it really wants a hot yoga class then I’ll just go do that and I feel more enthusiastic about my workouts as a whole that way.

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9 Jen January 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

amanda – i totally agree! see my response to she rocks fitness above. that is the main way that i can stay motivated…i just do what i’m feeling that day/week/month and don’t force the stuff i’m not! i feel so much better in my body that way!

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10 Amanda Bee January 27, 2014 at 10:19 pm

It’s great to see fitness professionals promoting that kind of intuitive fitness – reading this blog and your perspective on food/workouts was definitely part of my inspiration for listening to my body more this year :)

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11 Callie January 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

This is a refreshing list of great tips! When I hit a fitness plateau it almost feels paralyzing like I am lacking motivation to do what I normally do and intimidated to try something new. Typically I need a new goal or challenge to get me out of my funk. I like to try new YouTube workouts for yoga, Pilates or barre when I went a good workout but don’t want to pay for a class. I love ur body weight tabata workouts – great for those days I don’t want to leave the house! I also love the idea of hiring a professional. Would love to take a personal yoga class or workshop to really expand on my current yoga fitness level.

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12 Jen January 27, 2014 at 11:33 am

callie – i’m glad you like the post! i hear you on the intimidation piece…it can be scary to break out of your box and try something totally new. being the newbie in class isn’t always the most comfortable thing but i always try to remind myself everyone was in my shoes once.

sounds like you do a great job with at-home workouts! those are hard for me!

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13 Angie January 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I love this post! I have been doing a lot more yoga the last couple of weeks as a nice change of pace to my usual weight/cardio workouts. Everything was feeling stiff and sore on me, and this is exactly what I needed. What Lulu pants are you wearing in the 2nd photo? I love them! (Oh, and I think Ava needs to get a life! – Seriously!)

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14 Jen January 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

glad you enjoyed and thanks for the encouraging words! happy to hear you’ve been doing more yoga! :)

those are the wunder unders. they’re my #1 favorite lulu pants. their speed shorts are my favorite shorts!

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15 heidi January 28, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Love these tips! My biggest go to’s would be off my yoga, trying a new instructor or one who maybe isn’t my favorite, but possibly will bring new light to a pose. Or even switching up the time of the class….or actually where I even position myself in the studio. For running, since I’ve been doing a lot of treadmill running versus being able to go outside for a run, I would definitely say finding a new running workout (thanks to your blog suggestions actually or Runners World mag), and for my strength training trying new exercise or ones I haven’t tried for some time, adding resistance bands if I haven’t used those for awhile, etc…. Thank you for this post! :)

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