You’re working word, eating clean and reaping the benefits, then it all suddenly grinds to a halt, you’ve hit a plateau – so what next?
The dreaded plateau can mean your weight loss is stalled, muscle gain seems to have stopped dead in its tracks and then your motivation starts to dwindle. But just a few simple changes can help get things moving again?
Table of Contents
Why does weight loss plateau?
According to experts, hitting a plateau is nothing unusual. As your weight drops and your body composition changes, so do your nutritional needs.
There are several reasons why your weight loss can stall. One of these could be that you’ve lost muscle as you’ve lost weight and to keep your metabolism going you need muscle, keep strength training to build muscle and keep your metabolism going. Track your calories or macros, your weight could be stalled because you’re paying as close attention to the foods you’re eating when you started to lose weight, just a few extra additions a day can really mount up by the end of the week.
Other factors that can influence weight loss include thyroid or adrenal gland problems, speak to your doctor, but these are less likely, so take our advice below first.
Schedule and stick to rest days
When you get the exercise bug and enjoy working out and seeing results, it's easy to want to increase your workouts to everyday. But it's important for recovery of the body that you make time to rest your body and muscles and give them time to recover from the workouts.
If you're not taking rest days there's every chance you could hit a plateau. You're more likely to tire yourself out and not perform to the best of your ability. If you're only working to half the exertion you actually can, you'll never see the changes you want to make.
Build in more protein to your diet
Experts are always hailing protein as a key part of a healthy diet, and for good reason explains Mark Wood, Training and Education Manager at British Military Fitness. For sporty individuals, the recommended amount is 1g of protein for every 1kg of body weight, everyday.
As well as having numerous benefits including helping muscle repair and fuelling fat burning, protein helps to keep you fuller for longer, which will stop you reaching for an unhealthy snack when 11am hits. Try a protein based breakfast, such as scrambled eggs, and lunch to curb cravings and keep you going without the need for sugary or fatty snacks. Other protein-rich food includes chicken, turkey, fish and seafood, as well as soya.
Vary your workouts
You could very well be hitting a workout plateau because you're sticking to the same routines and exercises all of the time. It's important to vary things up, not only is this important for your body but your mind too. If you're doing the same things all of the time, you're going to feel less motivated to keep going and you'll get bored with what you're doing.
If you perform the same exercises, for the same amount of time your body will get used to the effects of it, so it'll stop burning as many calories, this is the plateau we really don't want to hit.
Instead of sticking to the same thing, it's important that you make changes, just small ones. It can be something as simple as increasing reps, changing rest times, performing exerises in a varied order. All of these small changes can still make a difference to how it effects your body.
Build in HIIT to your workouts
Love it or loath it, High-Intensity Interval Training is the fastest way to blast fat and boost your metabolism. If you’ve not built this into your workout routine, a couple of sessions a week will help kick start your weight loss and the best part is a HIIT workout can be completed in as little as 15 minutes – perfect if you’re short on time. Try running as fast as you can for one minute and then walking for two minutes, repeating ten times as a starter.
Get expert advice
If you really are stuck in an exercise rut and can't make the changes you need, it might be time to consider a personal trainer. Just a couple of sessions could reinvigorate your workouts and get you some new exercises to add into your routines.
They'll have the expert knowledge to share with you to ensure that you're workoing to the best of your abilities and performing them with the correct form too.
Booking personal training sessions are a great way to motivate yourself too. Your PT is likely to push yourself even further than you would do alone, and it's those last few reps that really make a difference in making changes to your body.
When you break your comfort zone, you're going to see and feel the changes you want.
Track your food intake
Once you’ve become used to a new way of eating, it can be easy to stop keeping track of what you’re consuming and assume you are doing a good job. However, when we stop tracking our food intake, it can be very easy to fall back into old habits. Continue to track calories and keep a food diary to ensure your nutrition isn’t slipping. And try not to eat really unhealthily after a workout, however tempting it may be – don’t lose out on all the good work you have put in.
Look at your lifestyle
You might be putting in all that effort in the gym, and working your body to the best of your ability, but if you don't lead a healthy lifestyle, it could all very well be a waste of time.
You don't need to be a saint 100% of the time, but if you're not aware of what you're doing it could be detrimental to your goals.
It's important to keep your life outside your exercise routines balanced too, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep and eating the right foods can all help ensure your body functions healthily and happily.
Change your weights
Weight training is excellent for building muscle mass which can help you burn more calories in the long term. And to keep your body working to the best of its ability you'll need to change your weights regularly.
It could be as simple as adding more repitions of the exercise, increasing the weight, or switching to a different method, like drop sets.
These will encourage your body to work differently which will help stop you from falling into an exercise plateau.
Be aware of weaknesses
There's going to be parts of working out that you love and hate, whether that's cardio, strength training, stretching etc. If you don't address these weaknesses you could find yourself focusing on one aspect too much, which can lead to a plateau as you've created a muscle imbalance.
Ensure you have a balanced workout that doesn't focus too much on particular type of exercise, or target just one muscle group. Ensure you encorporate isolation exercises that focus on really specific areas of the body too. It's important that you take the time to stretch after your workout and invest in a foam roller too. They're imperative for muscle repair and can help with soft tissue issues as well.