On Plateaus and Progress

Mar 16, 2017

Have you ever hit a plateau—that place where your progress seems to stagnate? You’re not getting faster or fitter—in fact, it feels more like the opposite.

Sometimes this can mean that you’ve been doing too much for too long and without making sure to get enough recovery time. Recovery is a necessary part of improving fitness, so be sure to give your body some time to rest and prepare to go harder again soon.

However, a plateau may also mean that you’re not doing the right kinds of workouts for you. Recent research is pointing out several things:

  • Not everyone responds to workouts in the same way.
  • What works for one person will not work for everyone.
  • If you’re not seeing progress, change up your workouts.
  • Specifically, it may help to add intensity.

The two key workout variables are volume (how long you go) and intensity (how hard you go). And the general takeaway from the research is that if doing more volume is not helping your progress, you might want to switch to doing more intensity. As one of the studies discovered, increasing volume seemed to help about 50% of people, while increasing intensity seemed to help everyone. In addition, another study proved that high intensity exercise was effective at reversing some age-related changes in muscle cells.

How to Add Intensity

Rowing with greater intensity doesn’t mean just increasing your strokes per minute. To understand the relationship between power and stroke rate, review our Rowing with Greater Intensity video. Adding intensity can also mean shorter workouts—they are easier to fit in your day than long slogs. No excuses! Below we offer a few sample workouts to add to your training program.

Warm Up

A good warm-up is even more important before a higher intensity workout. We suggest at least ten minutes of easy rowing or skiing, with some harder 10 or 15 stroke bursts toward the end.

Sample Workouts

  • 1 minute hard/1 minute easy, alternating between the two for a total of 15–20 minutes
  • 40 seconds hard/20 seconds easy—for a total of 10–15 minutes
  • 250 meters hard/30 seconds easy x 10
  • Tabata intervals: 20 seconds hard/10 seconds easy x 8

These past blogs and Update stories also offer some high intensity workout suggestions:

References

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