Every gym-goer has felt the pain of the plateau.

You committed to a great routine, hit the gym without fail and the results were so promising. All of sudden, your progress slows.

“Everything was going great at first,” you say. “What happened?”

You’re not alone. This is a challenge that everyone eventually faces. The plateau effect occurs in many different areas of human development and it’s likely to be an inevitable part of your fitness plan.

But there is a way past the plateau: intensity.

Why intensity is the key
As you get comfortable with your regular workout routine, it’s easy to settle into that comfort. But too much comfort doesn’t drive results.

Upping the intensity will force you to push your body and challenge what you’re capable of, ultimately leading to more progress.

So how do you actually push through the plateau? Here’s a few tricks of the trade.

Track everything and up your game
Sometimes, plateaus can be more feeling than fact. Even if you feel like your workout isn’t working, it may just be that the results are naturally slowing rather than stopping altogether.

To find out, start tracking everything: track your reps or your lap times. Track them every day. Then, use them as a personal best.

Each day thereafter, use that data as a benchmark. Try to beat those personal bests. You’re truly plateauing if you find you’re consistently having issues beating those bests.

Make sure to pour everything you’ve got into your exercises. With the advent of smartphones, TVs and social gyms, there is no shortage of multi-tasking distractions to keep you from your peak performance when you’re working out.

Turn the TV off, leave your smartphone at home and take a break from the chatter. Focus can be just the trick to pushing forward.

Reduce the weight, up the reps
If you’re having trouble upping the weight, try to begin upping your reps by 10% for a week or two instead. The extra reps will push your body a little further than you’re used to.

After this becomes more routine, try to up the weight. Continue to alternate added reps and trying more weight week over week until you can push past your original plateau.

Drop-sets are a similar concept; when you exhaust yourself from reps at your max weight, lower the weight and continue your reps. Do this as many times as you can maintain proper form.

Introduce, or add more, intervals
Try switching up your cardio routine by adding intervals to your run or spin. Plan 1-3 minute bursts of a super high-intensity pace in between 5 minute segments of normal pace exercise.

For example, if you’re a runner looking to improve your best time, try to add intervals of 2 minute sprints followed by 3 minutes of a slower pace.

If all else fails, try to start a competition with a friend or family member. Competition can fuel your intensity and provide you with a focus to push your limits.