Fitness Pitfalls and Plateaus by Canice Barbone

September 30, 2009
Share this story:

Canice and her mom enjoying the Trevi Fountain this summer in Rome. When you're fit, you can travel the world.

Canice and her mom enjoying the Trevi Fountain this summer in Rome. When you're fit, you can travel the world.

Have you hit a wall with your current exercise routine?   You have been working out hard most days of the week, and yet you find your results are limited or have come to a complete stop?  A plateau is a fitness rut that no one is immune to.  It happens to the best of us.  The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to the stresses placed upon it.  In a nutshell, what you are currently doing is now the “normal” stress that the body can handle, and unless you are making some changes in your routine, why should your body make any?   Yes, it is that simple.  The problem with that simplicity, is not everyone knows how to identify a plateau, or when and how to make the necessary changes.  The best way to get over and through any plateau is to look for the signs.



There are several ways to identify, prevent and get through a plateau and back on track with effective fitness and results:


1)                  CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE – Doing the same things over and over again will absolutely put you into a plateau in a matter of no time.  The body has adapted to the same workout week after week.  BORING!  Changing a routine does not mean starting completely over with new movements.  It can be a simple as changing up the order of the movements, eliminating one with something new, adding weight, lowering weight and adding reps, working opposing muscle groups, super setting, etc….  Just change it up!  Changing up your workout will keep it fun, challenging and anything but routine.

2)                  REST – REST – REST- If you feel you have reached a plateau, maybe your body is trying to tell you something.  It needs a break.  There is such a thing as overtraining.  Often times a few days off may be just the thing you need to overcome the pitfalls and plateaus that hard exercise can bring on.  One of the most important, yet overlooked components of fitness is the need for rest.  Overtraining can also affect your level of interest and motivation.  Do some passive exercise such as yoga, walking or swimming.  It will keep you in motion without burn out.  You will come back more energized to your workouts!

3)                  EATING HABITS – Are you cutting too many calories?  The more you increase your physical activity, the more calories you will need in order to meet the physical demands that exercise places on the body.  If your calories are too low, the body will burn out quickly.  It is critical that your nutritional choices are those that provide energy and fuel to the body.  You can’t run a car on empty, and you can’t expend calories that aren’t there.   Eat for fuel!  Three square meals won’t cut it.   An active body needs fuel all day long.  Your metabolism will run more efficiently and calorie burning will be optimum.  Rule of thumb is 5 – 6 small meals per day.  Your individual caloric intake can be calculated for you by a trained professional.

4)                  FITT TRAINING – Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.  This tried and true method of training will help you break free of pitfalls and plateaus and keep you accountable in changing things up.  They help you modify your workouts with cardio and resistance training.   Frequency – increase or decrease how often you are working out, Intensity – Increase or decrease the level in which you are working out, Time – Increase or decrease the amount of time for each workout, Type – Change the type of exercise that you are doing.

5)                  60 MINUTE RULE:  Keep all workouts under 1 hour.  The goal of lifting weights is to train your muscles to stimulate growth.  Prolonged exercise can place our bodies into a state of catabolism (muscle breakdown).  Be sensible.  Hit the weights with a plan, don’t dilly-dally around.  Then get home and feed them protein within 30 minutes.  Working out longer than 60 minutes can lead to muscle breakdown and overtraining.  Don’t do all that work in vain.

6)                  GET YOUR Z’SSSSS- Your body regenerates and repairs muscle tissue the fastest when you are sleeping.  The average active adult should get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night.  Easier said than done?  We all have active and busy lives and getting too bed early is a difficult thing to do.  But when you can, turn on your DVR and watch your favorite show another day.   Your workouts are suffering…..right?   Prioritize!

7)                  WORKOUT BUT DON’T OVERDO IT – Your body does need rest.  Especially from heavy lifting.  If you have worked out a particular muscle group today, give it some rest before you work it again.  If your muscles are not well rested, they will become overworked and you will become weaker as a result. 


Keep your workouts exciting and fun.  Nothing burns people out more than the “same old routine”.  Fitness is something that you commit to for your LIFE; it is not just a hobby.  If you follow the simple rules stated above, you should be able to avoid the pitfalls and plateaus.  Should you fall into a plateau you will be able to recognize it and change it before it affects your goals and objectives.   Train smart and effectively, and the results will follow.


Canice Barbone is Co-owner and Director of Ultimate Fitness Boot Camps, SCBSA Fitness Center and Club Spinnergy in La Verne.

Canice is committed to bringing her knowledge and passion for fitness training to the community.  She provides one-on-one, group fitness training, boot camp fitness training and spinning instruction in her state of the art training facility.  Canice is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and Madd Dog Athletics.   Her expertise in fitness, strength and cardiovascular training has given her the opportunity to serve as Athletic Director in youth sports and fitness instructor for the David & Margaret Home in La Verne.



Leave a Reply