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Fitness Plateaus

March 14, 2021 | Weight Loss

If you are reading this and have already had bariatric surgery, then hopefully you are engaging in some form of exercise that is appropriate for your age and degree of mobility. One thing people find after losing some weight is that they can do more…walk more (and further), spend more time on an exercise bike, or elliptical or rowing machine etc. One standard piece of advice I have for all my patients is…as you feel you can do more, you should. What is the reason for that advice?

As we get more fit there will be a tendency to hit what are known as fitness plateaus. Basically, this means that if we engage in the same exercise routine every day (with the same degree of intensity) there will be less and less benefit. Let me put this in concrete terms. Suppose you use a treadmill for your exercise routine, and you set it at 3 miles/hour and 4 degrees of incline, and you stay on it for 30 minutes and you’ve been doing the exact same thing for 3 months. I would bet that you are not getting as much benefit from that routine today as you were 3 months ago. You have probably hit a fitness plateau. How do you break through to the ‘next level’? You need to add to the intensity, duration, or both.

So, in the example above you would increase to 4 miles/hour or 5 degrees of incline (or both) or stay at the same level but do 45 minutes. One useful ‘hack’ to avoid fitness plateaus is to vary your routine as a matter of habit, in other words, your routine is to not have a routine!

For example, if you go to the gym 3 days a week, Day 1 you do 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes with weights (mostly focused on arms). Day 2 30 minutes on a rowing machine and 30 minutes with weights (mostly focused on your legs) and Day 3 30 minutes on a treadmill and maybe 30 minutes in a spin class (we’ll call that your aerobic work-out day).

There are an infinite number of variations but hopefully you get the idea. The best way to avoid fitness plateaus is to constantly vary the exercise regimen so that you are working different muscles and energy systems in your body….as a routine!

By Dr. Michael Bilof

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