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Avoiding Plateau in Your Fitness Journey, Part 1

Understanding how our bodies react and respond to different training stimuli is helpful in avoiding the dreaded plateau.

We have all experienced the “stuck” phase of fitness. These are the times that no matter how hard you work or how closely you track, nothing seems to budge on the scale. Some hit the plateau early and others can go 6-9 months before getting stuck.

What gives?

How can we avoid this?

Lastly, how do we break free from a fitness plateau?

To understand what is causing our fitness plateaus and plan an attack for breaking free from them, we first must discuss GAS.

No, not flatulence. Save your bottom burps for home! We are talking about general adaptation syndrome.

General adaptation syndrome, or GAS, is a founding principle of fitness programming and something that all veteran trainers are aware of in helping guide their clients.

First proposed in 1936 by Hans Selye, GAS consists of three phases of adaptation:

alarm (1-3 weeks),

resistance (4-16 weeks),

exhaustion (16 weeks +)

For the first one to three weeks of a new bodily stressor or stimuli, our flight or flight response works overtime. This is why we are initially so sore and fatigued when starting something new.

By week four the body starts to adapt, giving way to improved performance. This is the resistance phase and it’s the sweet spot of fitness enhancement and muscular development. In phase two, workouts no longer require days and weeks in recovery. This means we can increase frequency, time, intensity, and weight giving way to the required progressive overload that necessitates growth.

This, however, doesn’t last!

At some point, usually after roughly 3 months, the body can no longer tolerate additional increases which lead us to our dreaded plateau.

How can you break free? {You can!) We'll discuss that in the next post.

In the meantime, if you're looking for a fun way to break up exercise monotony, join us for Frigid Fit on Saturday, February 25 at Veteran's Park! Tickets are available here.

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