I always try to pull people away from the cosmetic benefits of exercise. Remind them that their blood pressure has dropped, they can now defeat a stair case without their knees hurting or stopping to gasp for air. The physiological benefits should always outweight the physical. Your body will change, but it takes time. The saying is cliche, but true… “Your body didn’t get to this point in 4 weeks, and it will not change in 4 weeks”. The body is designed to find it’s balance – and function within an equilibrium. If you are at this point just think of it as your body found a comfort zone and you may have to work a little harder and introduce them to a new comfort zone.
I have found that through using detailed documentation of various different abilities and statistics based on the client, there are always improvements somewhere (ex. flexibility, strength, posture, RHR etc.) and we just focus on the good of that until next time. Agian and again until the plateau breaks if necessary.
With regards to the workouts, I try to never have a client reach a plateau. There are simply so many variables and variations of such that reaching and being stuck at a plateau seems impossible.
Now, a weight loss plateau is a different story. I have a client that has lost 25-30 pounds while working with me (over a year or so). Sure, she gets frustrated, but she knows how far she has come. We continue to focus on the positive aspects of her health and body, while encouraging change in the areas she wants to focus on. The best we can do is be diligent with diet (as she has), and keep changing things up exercise-wise so that her mind and muscles never get bored or complacent.