The truth is, losing weight can be challenging. And while most people will see noticeable changes shortly after starting a new workout program, at a certain point, they stop seeing results, and it can seem like that body fat just won’t budge. Well, don’t fret. Today we’re going to talk about the top 10 ways to break through a workout plateau.
What Is a Plateau and How Do I Know I’ve Hit One?
When it comes to health and fitness, the term “plateau” refers to a point where you can no longer see or feel the effects of your workouts or diet. It basically means that your body has adapted to the healthy changes that you’ve made.
Hitting a workout or weight loss plateau is fairly obvious and easy to detect. You can tell that you’ve hit a weight loss plateau when you are no longer losing weight, even though you’re sticking to a healthy diet.
Many of us exercise to lose weight. But at a certain point, you may find that your normal workout routine is no longer helping you shed the pounds. You can also tell that you’ve hit a workout plateau because your overall fitness isn’t improving. Maybe you can’t increase your strength or stamina any longer.
Well, we’re here to help.
Today we’re going to go through the top 10 ways to break through a weight loss plateau. Changing up your diet will help, but in this article, we’re going to focus on the workout aspect of your plateau.
Workout Plateaus Are Not Necessarily a Bad Thing
For some people, hitting a workout plateau happens once they’ve reached their fitness goals. If you’re one of those lucky few, then that plateau is exactly what you want. It means you can stick to your normal routine and maintain all of the gains you’ve made.
But for most of us, workout plateaus are more like a major source of angst. They shouldn’t be, though.
You may want to think that hitting a weight loss plateau is a really bad thing. I mean, if your fitness goal is to lose 50 pounds, but you get stuck after you’ve lost just 20, that can certainly be frustrating. However, whether getting stuck at a workout plateau is good or bad really depends on how you look at it.
Yes, it can be irritating when the scale stops giving you good news. But, if you really think about it, reaching a plateau is actually a time to celebrate. Seriously, give yourself a big pat on the back.
Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to reach a workout or weight loss plateau. It takes a lot of hard work to get there. Our bodies take time to adapt to a change in diet or exercise. So if you’ve hit a plateau, you know that you’ve put in a lot of effort to improve your health. And that’s awesome!
Instead of getting down on yourself because you’ve stopped losing weight, stop and appreciate how far you’ve come. I like to think about plateaus as the point between where you started and where you want to go.
And the best thing about plateaus?
You can break through them. They’re not a stopping point. They’re more of a pause and a chance to reevaluate and make some adjustments to continue on your health journey.
So let’s get to the top 10 ways to break through a workout plateau or a weight loss plateau.
Top 10 Ways to Break Through a Workout Plateau
Adding any one of these to your routine will help. Or you could really jump-start yourself by doing all of them.
1. Make some small changes to your routine
Once your body gets used to a workout, you have to change things up a bit if you want to continue to see progress. That doesn’t mean that you have to kill yourself. It means that you have to make some minor changes.
Let’s say you normally do 10 pushups per set. Try increasing to 12. Even a change that small can make a difference.
Besides increasing the number of reps you’re doing, you can also increase the number of exercises and the intensity.
If you usually workout on the treadmill, try adding 5 to 10 minutes to your run. If you like to walk, try adding a five-minute jog to your session. Or maybe you could increase the incline on the treadmill. Try adding some hills, even if that means you have to walk up the hills at first.
If you’ve been exercising 4 times a week, try adding a short 20 to 30-minute workout to one of your off days.
You can also mix it up by changing the type of exercises that you’re doing. If you normally do pushups to work your upper body, try using an exercise band or weights instead.
2. Drink more water
You’ve probably heard that drinking plenty of water can help with weight loss. It’s true. In fact, studies show that people who drink water can get up to a 30 percent boost in metabolism. Pretty great, right?
And that’s not all.
Drinking more water can also help you to break through a workout plateau. Research shows that when you drink water or green tea, you can up your metabolic rate and significantly increase fat burning during exercise.
3. Use a fitness tracker
To be sure that you’ve hit a plateau, it’s important to track your fitness over time. Some of the ways you can do that include:
- Keep a weekly record of your weight using a scale
- Get a good fitness tracker
- Take a timed fitness challenge every one to two months
- Track your weight-loss progress through photos
- Pay attention to how your clothes fit
- Keep a journal of everything you eat
4. Add strength training to your routine
If you’re not already doing some sort of resistance training, you should add it to your workout routine ASAP. Resistance training, also known as strength training, will not only help you break through a plateau, but it will also increase strength and endurance, improve skeletal muscles, protect your joints from injury, and strengthen your bones.
The thing that’s so great about resistance training is that it increases your lean muscle. And muscle burns more calories than fat. That means the more muscle you have, the more you will increase your metabolic rate.
I can’t stress this enough. The most effective type of exercise for weight loss is resistance training. Doing cardio is great for your heart health, and it will undoubtedly help you burn body fat. But nothing compares to strength training when it comes to losing weight and breaking through plateaus.
Resistance training can also improve your cardiovascular health, especially if you do HIIT workouts. We’ll talk more about that in a second.
Strength training isn’t just about lifting heavy weights either. You can also get the benefits of resistance training using machines at the gym or resistance bands. You can even increase your lean muscle by picking up things around the house, like your kids.
5. Do a HIIT workout
As we just discussed, resistance training is where it’s at when it comes to breaking through plateaus. And one of the most effective ways you can do that is with HIIT workouts.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It involves short bursts of very intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or low-intensity exercises.
One of the best things about HIIT is that it is extremely time-efficient. A typical HIIT workout takes only 10 to 30 minutes. But don’t let the short time fool you. This workout is no joke. It can actually produce health benefits equal to more than twice the amount you get from moderate exercise.
Some of the incredible benefits you get from HIIT include:
- You can burn twice the calories in half the time
- Your metabolic rate will get a boost that will last for hours
- It burns body fat
- It increases lean muscle
- Improved oxygen consumption
- Reduction in blood pressure and resting heart rate
- It can reduce blood sugar
6. Get plenty of rest
Believe it or not, resting is just as important as exercising when it comes to losing weight and breaking through plateaus.
In fact, not getting enough sleep is one of the leading contributors to weight loss stall. One study found that people who slept for only four hours a night decreased their metabolic rates by nearly three percent in just five days.
The same study also found that metabolism returned to its baseline in all participants after 12 hours of sleep.
One of the best things you can do to break through a plateau is to get enough rest. Experts suggest getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night for the best results.
7. Manage your stress
Stress can be a real saboteur when it comes to weight loss. Not only does it often lead to stress eating, which could make you gain weight, but it’s also a major contributor to workout plateaus.
The reason for this is that when we’re under stress, our bodies produce a “stress hormone” called cortisol. Too much cortisol leads to increased storage of belly fat. It will also prevent you from losing weight, regardless of how much time you spend in the gym.
Let’s face it. We all have stress in our lives. But learning how to better manage that stress can help you break through a plateau.
In one two-month study, researchers found that obese women who participated in a stress management program, including muscle relaxation and deep breathing, lost nearly 10 pounds on average.
8. Take a break
Workout plateaus can be both physical and mental. Sometimes they can make you feel bored or unmotivated. If you’re feeling that way, it’s a good time to take a break from your workout routine.
That could mean taking a week off from the gym. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be sedentary. It’s better if you keep moving. Don’t think so much about dragging yourself through another agonizing workout. Instead, try turning on some music and dancing in your living room. Or give your house a good thorough cleaning. Maybe jump on a trampoline with the kids. Do something fun.
A break like this will give you time to recharge your batteries. It will also give your body a reset so that your regular workouts will be more effective.
9. Try periodization
Periodization is a technique used by athletes. It reduces the risk of injury and prevents overtraining while allowing you to peak at the right time. This system of training lets you progress from one phase to the next slowly.
It’s different than just lifting weights. Instead, with periodization, you will start by using just your body weight. You do more reps at this starting point. And then you gradually move to heavier weight and fewer reps.
10. Cross train
Last, but certainly not least, is cross-training. If you really want to break through your weight loss plateau the best advice I can give you is to cross-train.
As we’ve discussed, plateaus occur because our bodies adapt to the workload. Well, when you cross-train, you basically trick your body. It can’t easily adapt when you’re always keeping it guessing and changing things up.
If you normally exercise four times per week, make all four of those workouts different. There are so many options out there. Try spinning or yoga or HIIT or running or dancing or weight lifting or any number of the other countless workouts available. The key is to mix it up.
The more variety you add to your routine, the better results you’ll have. You’ll also decrease your risk of injury and boredom.
Break Through a Workout Plateau: The Bottom Line
Weight-loss plateaus can be very demoralizing and frustrating. But they’re actually a very normal part of the journey to better health. As annoying as they are, we all experience them at some point.
The good news is there’s help. The top 10 ways to break through a workout plateau that we went through today will help you to get the scale going in the right direction again safely. Here’s to your health!Find Mobility Guardian on Google+