Types of Plateaus
A body plateau is often called a weight loss plateau because it most commonly refers to a sudden stop of weight loss after beginning a diet or workout plan.
Muscular body plateaus are more common in people who are looking to strength train rather than lose weight, like bodybuilders or professional fighters.
Body plateaus are similar to weight loss plateaus in the sense that they are the result of your body’s successful adaptation to your fitness regime.
Strength training tends to increase basal metabolic rates because body mass increases rather than decreases.
So the management of a body plateau is different than the management of a weight loss plateau.
Overcoming a Weight Loss Plateau
As your weight decreases along with your basal metabolic rate, your body will require fewer calories per day for sustenance.
In order to continue losing weight, you have to reduce the number of calories your body accesses either by reducing caloric intake or increasing caloric output through exercise.
Reduce your caloric intake by 200 calories per day if you are currently taking in 1,400 or more calories; do not reduce your caloric intake below 1,200 calories per day unless you are under the guidance of a doctor.
Adding 15 to 30 minutes of additional cardiovascular exercise into your routine will also increase your caloric output and recharge weight loss efforts.
Yale University professor Dr. David Katz suggests that replacing calories ingested through carbohydrates or fats with calories from protein may also spur weight loss.
Another option is to increase your basal metabolic rate by increasing your muscle mass rather than your fat mass.
Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine will build lean muscle that contributes to higher resting metabolic rates.
Overcoming a Strength Training Plateau
Strength training plateaus indicate two different types of adaptations. If you’ve increased your body mass, you’ve also increased your basal metabolic rate.
Failing to provide enough calories means that your body lacks the components necessary to build muscle.
Increasing your caloric intake with protein-rich foods ensures that your body has the building blocks for muscle.
Your body has also adapted individual muscle groups to accommodate the stress of strength training. Increasing repetitions, sets or the weight or resistance used in your workout will challenge your muscles to work harder.
A trainer can help you tailor your routine to overcome a plateau with specific strategies; drop sets, a technique in which you perform a move until you are unable to and then repeat the move after rest with a lower resistance, and super sets, in which two exercises are performed back to back with no rest.
Are successful strategies for overcoming plateaus but should only be undertaken with the guidance of a professional.
8 Tips to Recharge Your Routine
Evaluate What’s Going on in Your Life
Are you stressed? Busy at work? Do you have too many commitments?
Make a list of everything you have going on and prioritize your daily tasks.
If you have too many things to do in a day, you’ll over exert your body and won’t have energy to work out.
By prioritizing your daily tasks, you’ll know what to do each day and save energy to get you through a work out.
Do you find yourself struggling to lift the same weight you lifted the week before? This is a sign that your muscles are fatigued.
Allow your body some time to rest. Go for a light swim instead of hitting the weight room.
Perfect Your Technique
Ask a personal trainer to look at your form and give you feedback. A good trainer will be happy to help even if you aren’t paying them.
This will help you lift properly and avoid injuries. You may discover you were doing the exercise completely wrong.
Periodize Your Work Out
Periodize training means you change your training program at regular intervals or “periods”. The idea is to challenge your muscles.
Change the amount of reps or sets you do per exercise. Switch the order of exercises, try cardio after a weight-lifting session or test out speed drills.
Eat more protein
Protein has the highest thermic effect of food, meaning eating protein burns more calories during digestion.
Protein also contains an amino acid, leucine, that numerous research studies have identified as a potent catalyst for burning body fat.
Rotate your routine
Slugging away on the treadmill for the past four months?
It’s time to change up your workouts.
The muscles become familiar with the same old workout, making your regular routine less effective. To see a change in body fat, you have to get outside of your fitness comfort zone.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to burn body fat effectively.
Try doing speed work at the track, a boot camp class at the gym, or alternate walking and running intervals.
Note: Just progress slowly and deliberately when incorporating high-intensity exercise into your routine. Doing too much too fast can leave you too sore, tired or even injured.
A full night’s sleep is vital to losing body fat because it resets your hormones. Even a little sleep deprivation can lead to increased cortisol, a stress hormone.
Elevated cortisol levels can lead to body fat accumulation around the midsection.
Increase muscle mass
Want to burn more calories at rest? Lift (heavier) weights and follow a strength-training program to build muscle.
The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, and the more body fat you’ll shed.
Put these tried and true tips into action.