Tips For Overcoming Workout Plateaus

By Athlete's Care on December 05, 2022

Our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors and other sports medicine specialists field a lot of questions on the subject of exercise and fitness.

When—or before—they start out, many people assume that fitness is a kind of straightforward path leading to a specific place. In reality, as all fitness and sports medicine professionals know, fitness and conditioning are lifelong pursuits.

And, the path can have its ups and downs.

The workout plateau

Many people are frustrated by what are called fitness or workout plateaus. When you begin, you'll start to feel improvements in endurance or muscle building, according to what you are targeting.

Then, at a certain point, your gains seem to end. What gives?

  • Your body was once challenged by your workout routine;
  • It developed new muscles/endurance capacity/speed to adjust;
  • Now that it has adjusted, progress has stalled.

First, what you need to remember is: a plateau means you've made solid progress. It may feel frustrating, but it's a sign your body has made positive changes.

The problem is the key to your solution.

Most of the time, training plateaus are caused by the fact you are using the same workout routine over an extended period of time. Over-training may also be at work, meaning that you aren't giving your body enough recovery time between workouts to rebuild muscle and increase capacity.

What can you do?

In short: change it up. Keep the challenge in your workouts by switching up your routine.

  • Switch between quick/high intensity and slow/low intensity activities;
  • Use progressively heavier weights, or add repetitions;
  • Interval training can be a good way to snap out of a flat plateau.

Add something new. The same activities use the same muscles. Trying something new, or simply adding a new type of exercise to an existing routine, can help.

  • New equipment can boost your results;
  • Classes can give you new ideas;
  • Try new devices such as wrist or ankle weights to add difficulty.

There are simple ways to increase the intensity of your workouts:

  • Use heavier weights;
  • Add more reps;
  • Increase the level of difficulty of exercises.

When bodybuilding, alternating more intense workouts with less intense regimens can help.  Sometimes, just rearranging your reps can do the job. If you've been doing five sets of four, try eight sets of three instead.

Get professional help; the advice of a professional trainer can be invaluable in helping you achieve your fitness goals, as well as adapting to plateaus along the way. Your Toronto physiotherapist and other sports medicine specialists can provide advice about the right kinds of exercises for your fitness level and condition.


Allowing your body enough time to rest and recover between workouts is essential. That's when muscle tissue is repaired and rebuilt. If you don't allow yourself enough time, you'll continue to tear down without letting your body build itself back up—stronger.

  • Be sure to get the right nutrition from your diet;
  • Don't forget about getting enough sleep.

Fitness has mental as well as physical dimensions.

  • Reconsider your goals, and the plan you've set to get there. Perhaps there are alternative ways and means that can give your workout the boost it needs.
  • Recognize that small gains are still gains. Once you've reached a certain level of fitness, the improvements you'll experience will necessarily seem lesser—simply because of how far you've come.

Remember, too, that your results are highly individual, and that what works for you won't necessarily work for the next person, and vice versa.

If you design your workouts with variables and change built into the program, you may never reach another plateau.

If you have any questions or issues with your sports or workout regimen, our Toronto sports medicine specialists are ready with answers and advice. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics for a consultation.