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3 Tricks to Avoid a Fitness Plateau

Your body is a creature of habit. It's constantly seeking ruts to settle into, and once it recognizes one, it reduces its own effort in order to "coast." This isn't always bad. If you eat healthy for a period, your body will "coast” by turning off cravings for fast food. However, if you do the same fitness regimen for too long, your body learns what to expect and "coasts” by burning fewer calories -- sometimes to a point at which you'll stop losing weight. This is what's known as a plateau. Here, three ways to get out of it.

1. Make a Power Play
If you've stopped seeing results from your fitness training, first try reassessing your exercise time and intensity. Try bumping your training up an extra 10 minutes and add or increase the weights you use (I promise you won't bulk up).

2. Take a Surprise Detour
Plateaus can occur when you engage in the same activity for too long. If you haven't lost a pound after two months of kickboxing, it's time to reassess. Your body needs a shock. Change your routine to something completely different. Try a yoga class.

3. Bring in a Ringer
Your body may think it knows you, but it doesn't know who else has your back. Bring in a friend or, if you can, hire a trainer. A workout buddy can push you harder, get you to try new things and make you accountable -- and consistent.

The Bottom Line
Remember, plateaus don't mean you've done something wrong -- they're just natural, temporary ruts into which our bodies purposely settle. Avoiding a plateau is a matter of changing your routine and retraining your body to lose weight and build muscle.

-- Doug Rice