Beat the PLATEAU!

A PLATEAU is best described as things grinding to a halt; not showing any progress in your fitness and weight loss for at least four consecutive weeks. All your hard work that once produced great results, no longer meets your needs and goals and you experience NO WEIGHT LOSS, NO INCHES LOST and NO BODY FAT LOST.

The reason this happens is because the human body works hard to keep energy intake and output in balance. In other words, your body does not like to lose weight (not a surprise)! After your initial weight loss, your progress will slow down and eventually stop, even though your exercise and food intake is consistent. Change is the name of the game and the secret to breaking through a plateau. Something has got to be altered in order to get things to shift. 

Our bodies are brilliant at adapting and it’s important to resist getting disheartened; don't quit!  Knowing what to do to get past the cease-to-budge point is half the battle, while the other half is implementing it.  Yes, you may have to work harder but working smarter is just as important.

Many people will restrict their calories when they hit a sticking point which can actually cause the body to back-fire and do the exact opposite of what you want it to do; which is lose fat. The fact is that it takes calories to burn calories. When you decrease your food intake, your body simply lowers its metabolic rate in response to that change and perceives this as a survival threat and tries to preserves fat, as a result. 

Keep your calories slightly below your maintenance calories so that your energy and metabolism remain high. A deficit greater than 500 calories makes it much more difficult to maintain your lean body mass and can send your body into fat preservation mode. Weight loss is not as simple as not eating; not for long term success, that is. Slow and steady wins the race.

Some simple tips to break through a plateau include:

  • alter some exercise variables in how you perform your weight training workout
  • how much weight you lift
  • how many repetitions and sets you perform
  • the rest interval between sets  
  • the type of exercises that make up your program
  • performing some form of aerobics/cardio after weight training (at least 20 min. if possible)
  • perform your cardio to include higher intensity intervals
  • eat most of your carbohydrates (complex) in the first half of your day.

    Altering all, or any one or two of the variables, will provide variety and stimulate your body to adapt and change. Perform your exercise at a different time of day or add a mini workout in the late afternoon or early evening.  Even 10 minutes of activity boosts the metabolism! Try to eat a combination of low-glycemic carbohydrates with a lean source of protein and don’t ever resort to severely restricting or eliminating complete food groups from your diet - this will backfire, especially long-term. 

Try this workout circuit to help you break through your plateau:

Susan Arruda