Fitness Plateau: A Personal Trainer’s Dirty Little Secret

January 9, 2014
vegan spinning cycling cardio exercise weight loss

Are you a spinning devotee? You might still want to switch it up, once in a while.

I am a Personal Trainer. I teach weekly Spin classes, genuinely love to work out, and consider myself a fit, healthy, and active person. So experiencing a fitness plateau was never something I thought I would have to deal with! I mean, I teach people how to avoid these predicaments.

What is a fitness plateau? Just like a weight-loss plateau, which is when you stop seeing results and flat line, you can also stop reaping the maximum benefits of exercise.  Remember when you did your first workout, how sore and tired you were, and how your body began to change? Well, with a fitness plateau all of that stops!

So how does one know they have hit a plateau? Well, you find out when you step out of your comfort zone, like I did! One day after teaching Spin class, I had an hour to kill, and I decided to take a Functionally Fit class taught by a fellow trainer. My thoughts before going in to class: Easy! I work out, I am strong, and I am fit! My thoughts after class: OH.MY. WORD. I am an out-of-shape personal trainer, lol!

My exact words as the class started were “oh man! THIS is the warm up?” I was sweating, huffing and puffing, my legs were burning, and the hour long class had just begun!! How could this be? I exercise all the time; I am in the best shape of my life! Had I hit a plateau and not even know it?

Well, I had been in denial. I had not been sore after a workout in a while, I had certain workouts I enjoyed and only did those, and I had definitely not been pushing myself.  I had conditioned my body to only do very specific movements, and this class was a major wake-up call! It happens to all of us, even Personal Trainers! What I learned that day was, even as a fitness professional, it is easy to get comfortable and  to do what we enjoy versus what we need to be doing. Here are some tips to avoid fitness plateaus:

Rotate your cardio workouts. If you are a runner, take Spin classes. If you always use the elliptical, switch to a treadmill. Don’t be ‘just’ a runner, or ‘just’ a spinner. Switching it up will get new muscles activated and you’ll avoid ‘sport specific’ injuries!
-If you do mostly body weight exercises, hit the weight room! Give your muscles a boost with some serious weight training. Building lean muscle also will increase fat burn!!
Meet with a Personal Trainer. Even if you are a serious fitness enthusiast, it is very easy to get comfortable in a routine. A Personal Trainer can design a fresh new workout for you, using exercises you might not be familiar with.
-Yoga much?  Try swapping one yoga class a week with a strength- based class, like Boot Camp or Body Sculpt! Remember what I said about building lean muscles? Yup, it will increase your fat burn and improve your overall strength!
-And…be honest with yourself: if you are no longer sore and no longer feel fatigued, it is time to switch up your routine! This is a HUGE indictor of a fitness plateau!

Related: Choose the Cardio for the Body You Want 


Photo: 123rf

Ewa Johnson is the founder of the Naturally Fit & Healthy Blog. She is a Personal Trainer, a Vegan Health Educator, and a mom to a wonderful little boy! She can be found blogging, hiking, getting creative in the kitchen, or working at the local gym!


always stay inspired!