There is nothing more frustrating than a weight loss plateau, but if you’re experiencing one, know you aren’t alone. Eventually everyone will reach a point in their weight loss journey where their results stall.
Your body is very smart and it hates physical change – it sees it as a threat to its survival – and will do anything it can to avoid it. In terms of weight loss, your body will figure out what you’re doing to get it to change, and once it does, it will then figure out how to do it without using as much energy. What that means is, even though you are doing the same amount of work, you will burn fewer calories. If what was once working for you is no longer getting results, you need to break through that plateau.
1. Increase Your Resistance
If you aren’t seeing results chances are you aren’t working out hard enough. The goal of working out is to become stronger, so the stronger you become the more your workout needs to adapt with you to continue to challenge you enough to produce results. Try upping your weights or resistance during your strength training workouts to build more fat-blasting muscle mass.
2. Take a Break
If you aren’t seeing any changes despite still hitting the gym hard, you might be over-training. If your body rebels and refuses respond to your workouts, it may be telling you to stop. Take a week off of training to let your body rest and heal itself so you can come back to your workouts stronger and more motivated than ever.
3. Try Drop Sets
Muscle confusion is the key to continued growth, and drop sets are the perfect way to confuse them. Drop sets are simple: pick 3 or 4 sets of weights of descending resistance. Start with the heaviest (your typical weight for that exercise) and max out. Pick the next lighter weight and do a few more reps to failure. Then, pick the even lighter weight and do more reps to failure. Working past failure will stimulate new growth.
4. Use Negative Training
Another way to work past failure is to use negative, or eccentric training. Negative training overloads the muscle during the eccentric portion of your lift, allowing you to lift 30 percent more weight than you normally could, while you are assisted by a partner during the concentric portion.
5. Choose a New Rep Range
If you follow the 3-sets-of-15-reps rule, or something close to it, your body is going to figure you out. Try a new rep range to create muscle confusion. Just remember, if you do fewer reps, you will need to up your weight accordingly to ensure the last rep of each set is the last one you can do with good form.
6. Eat Less
Consuming too many calories will always lead to weight gain, so if the scale isn’t moving, take a hard look at your intake. As you lose weight, you require fewer calories, so your calories will need to be adjusted along with your progress. Keep a food journal for a few days to really be sure of each bite you put in your mouth- those extra calories add up fast.
7. Eat More
But, if you’re cutting calories too quickly or drastically, you can enter starvation mode, where your body hangs on to every calorie you eat for survival. Striking the right calorie balance for your age, gender and fitness level is key to continued progress.
8. Try Something New!
Try a new piece of equipment, a new exercise, a group fitness class – anything to put some variety into your routine and throw something new at your body it;s not expecting (it’s more fun to mix it up, anyway!)
9. HIIT It!
If you normally do slow, steady state cardio, try high intensity interval training (HIIT). Not only does alternating bursts of all out intensity with lower intensity recovery intervals burn the most calories out of any type of workout, but burns more calories long after your workout is over. Up the intensity, up the results.
10. Sleep On It
A night of restful sleep resets your hormones, making everything run at maximum efficiency. Even missing out on a little bit of sleep can cause you to produce more cortisol, the stress hormone, which signals to your body to store fat around your midsection, no matter how hard you are dieting and exercising.