Overcoming a Fitness Plateau

Group of multi-ethnic young adults starting a race on the beach

Hitting a fitness plateau can be frustrating, but it’s a positive sign that you are making progress in your program. Now it’s time to take it to the next level.

Get F.I.T.T.

You can overcome a plateau and change up your workouts by following the F.I.T.T. principle of exercise.

F.I.T.T. stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type. The following chart outlines general guidelines for following F.I.T.T. for healthy adults. Look for the target heart-rate range for your age and be sure you are in this range most of the time during your workouts. As you get into better shape, you’ll have to continue increasing your intensity to get into the appropriate target heart-rate range.

  • Frequency (how often) 3-5 days a week
  • Intensity (how hard) 65-90% of heart rate max, or within the target heart rate range for your age.
  • Time (how long) 20-60 min/session; 150 min/week
  • Type (what exercises) walking, jogging, running, biking, swimming, etc.

Change It Up

Beyond F.I.T.T., simply adding variety to your workout will help you overcome a plateau. If you’ve been walking for weeks or months on end, why not try jogging?

Aerobic activities should always make up the biggest chunk of your workout, but you should also include muscle-strengthening activities, such as working out with weights or resistance bands.

Cross training, which means doing a variety of different exercises or activities, is another good way to keep exercise boredom at bay. For example, you may want to alternate between walking, swimming and strength training. Cross training also reduces the risk of injuring or overusing one specific muscle or joint.