The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” While the speaker of these words may be lost to history — the quote has often been misattributed to Albert Einstein — its sentiment can be applied to many aspects of life, including fitness.
An exercise plateau, which occurs when the marginal benefits of a workout routine begin to flatten out, can be frustrating (though it might not drive you insane).
UAE residents attempting the Dubai Fitness Challenge — in which participants commit to completing at least 30 minutes of exercise for 30 consecutive days — may encounter plateaus of their own at various stages of #Dxb30x30. This may differ for everyone, but it’s important to remember that there is a way through it.
“There are many ways to measure a plateau in your training, depending on the goal,” explains Joe Watters, a Dubai-based personal trainer. “It’s a good sign of progress if you reach a state in which a workout that was previously a challenge is now significantly easier.”
At this stage, Watters recommends applying the FITT principle — an acronym that stands for frequency, intensity, time and type of workout you’re doing.
One way in which you can increase your limits is via an occasional progressive overload. “Progressive overload is basically challenging the body in a specific methodology in a linear or undulating way.” While the linear sees you gradually increase the weight each time, undulating refers to upping the load but coming down a lot after a couple of workouts.
“For example, if you leg press 100kg for ten reps, next do 110kg and the following 95kg. The the next session after, start on long, then 115kg and then 100kg.”
Of course, upping your lifting weight or dramatically increasing your sprint times can raise your risk of injury if you aren’t careful. “Always always maintain good form and posture, and move through the entire range where applicable,” advises Watters.
Listen to your body, he adds, because there’s no hard and fast rule that applies to everyone. “Every human has different limits. If you find you wake up tired, have an elevated heart rate at rest or are finding the workouts more difficult than normal, consider a rest.”
Timed fitness challenge
One way to conquer a plateau is through a timed fitness challenge, which you can do once every one to three months.
“This is a great way to see progress and overcome a plateau,” explains Watters. “It’s called a test retest measure.” What he likes best about it is that you can perform a test retest measure across virtually any kind of fitness. “Say you run a 5k in a 45-minute best time. After a month try again to beat this time.
“The same goes for strength work.” You can apply the same principals to increasing your weights every so often. The objective is to raise your ceiling and exercise efficiency.
Residents attempting the Dubai Fitness Challenge may encounter the plateau problem. If you’re careful with form and get adequate rest, follow these steps to increase your physical limits.
It’s a good sign of progress if you reach a state in which a workout that was previously a challenge is now significantly easier.