Updated: Jul 18, 2019
We all get there at some point in later in our exercise journeys.
We feel like we're no longer making progress, not seeing the changes we want or just can't seem to get any stronger.
Progression in exercise is based on the FITT principle - that is, frequency, intensity, type and time. If one of those isn't changing, then you're going to hit a bit of a wall. So you could either exercise more often (up the number of sessions), increase the speed or intensity that you're working at, change the type of exercise you are doing or exercise for longer. Try and only change one variable at a time or you may be asking for injury!
This FITT principle applies to any type of exercise. Want to run marathons - then gradually up your distance (time). Want to run faster - then work on gradually increasing the speed of your intervals (intensity). Want to keep losing weight - then throw in an extra exercise your body isn't used to (and hasn't adapted to) to keep the calories burning (and of course be in a calorie deficit!!).
An example of this for me is with chin ups. I have been doing them for about a year now, and once I'd got through the rapid improvement you show when you start doing something for the first time, my max. number of reps has stayed fairly constant at about 10. So… now I increase the total number of reps I do in a workout (workout volume) and throw in some weighted chin ups too (increase the intensity).
The other most important thing to do when you feel you've reached a plateau is: trust the process. It's training consistently over time that has the biggest effect and every now and again you'll surprise yourself with the next thing you're 'suddenly’ able to do - but you've actually been working towards for the last few months!
Of course, the other most effective thing is to ask a professional for some advice, as they will be able to give you a clearer idea of how to move forwards, apply the FITT principle and start seeing those gains once more. So, anyone reached a plateau?