It’s finally happened. You’ve been training and dieting for some time now and making progress, but now, all of a sudden, the scale isn’t budging. What happened? You’ve hit a plateau. Our bodies are very good at adapting to change. It’s one of the reasons that we are able to survive stressful conditions on Earth. Unfortunately our bodies are really good at adapting to resistance training and dieting as well. What was working so great is no longer getting you the results it once was. Ultimately everyone will face this situation in their fitness journey. So instead of spinning your wheels, getting nowhere fast, here are 6 ways to break though a weight loss plateau.
Increase Workout Intensity
If you’ve been doing the same old routine for some time now it might be a good time to mix things up. Increasing your workout intensity can help you keep your heart rate elevated longer leading to more calories burned in a single session. Here are a few strategies to help you really crank it up a notch in the gym.
Dropsets are a great way to get a really good pump as well as burn more calories per working set. You perform dropsets by simply performing the exercise as you normally would but instead of resting at the end of the set, you drop the weight by 20% – 30% and keep going until failure. If you’re feeling good you can drop the weight again by another 20% – 30% and keep going until failure. Do this for 3 to 4 sets per exercise and you’re guaranteed to shock your body into not only burning more calories but building more muscle as well.
Supersets are when you perform two different exercises for the same body part back to back without rest. For example if you’re doing chest you could perform 10 reps on the bench press followed by push ups to failure. This is another great way to get an intense pump and burn more calories per working set. You might not be able to go as heavy as you normally would but this is another great way to add a lot of volume to your workouts which will increase your overall calorie burn.
Shorter Rest Periods
If you find yourself resting 60+ seconds in between sets you can try shortening the rest periods down to 45 seconds or less. By decreasing the rest periods between sets, you’re increasing your intensity, which will ultimately lead to more calories burned. This is a great way to keep your heart rate elevated for longer periods of time which will leaving you breathing heavy, sweating hard, and burning maximum calories.
Do Heavy Compound Movements
Sometimes all the body needs is a really good shock to help break through a plateau. This can be accomplished by lifting some heavy ass weight. Try using this method with your compound movements earlier in your workouts but after you’re nice and warmed up. Squats, deadlifts, and bench press are all great candidates to help push some serious weight. Try going for 1-3 reps for a few sets and it will surely shock your system. Lifting heavy puts a tremendous amount of stress on your CNS (central nervous system) which can help you bust through a plateau. This should be done sparingly though because lifting this heavy is very taxing and takes your body some time to recover fully.
Everybody’s favorite 6 letter word, cardio. Doing cardio is the really only proven way to help burn fat by keeping your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time. Anything that will keep your heart rate elevated will work so it doesn’t have to be your typical walk on a treadmill for a half hour.
Low Intensity Cardio
If you’re new to doing cardio adding in a little bit to start can really go a long way. Try adding in 3 30 minute sessions of low intensity cardio to start. Do this for a couple of weeks and monitor your progress. If you’re making progress, great! If not, you can either try to increase the intensity, the duration, or the number of times a week performed. There are a lot of variables when it comes to cardio so it will take some experimenting to find out what really works best for you. But a rule of thumb is to start with at least 30 minutes because it takes at least 20 minutes for your body to start burning fat. That’s just the nature of low intensity cardio. The lower the intensity the longer the duration needs to be to see results.
High Intensity Cardio (HIIT)
If you’re looking for a really great way to burn fat fast then performing high intensity interval training might be right for you. This type of cardio is performed in rounds. Each round consists of a high intensity portion followed by a lower intensity portion and then repeated. For example. Do an all out sprint on the treadmill for 20 seconds followed by walking for 40 seconds. Repeat this 10-20 times depending on your fitness level. Performing HIIT has another added benefit of giving you an after burn effect. This means that your metabolism stays elevated for an extending period of time after you’ve completed your workout. The rule of thumb here is to try and perform a minimum of 10 minutes or 10 rounds but try not to exceed 20 minutes. HIIT is also very taxing on the body and you will need some time to recover from it. Usually this type of cardio can be performed every other day depending on your fitness level and goals.
Try Carb Cycling
Carb cycling is a diet strategy where you go 2-3 days low carb (50g or less) followed by a higher carb day and then repeated. You keep your protein consistent on all days and on lower carb days you increase your fat intake and on high carb days you decrease your fat intake. This strategy has been proven to help burn fat at an accelerated rate as well as providing other health benefits. It has been shown to help regulate blood glucose levels and make you more sensitive to insulin which is needed to help burn fat. There are plenty of success stories from people who live by this method. If you’re interested in this approach check out our carb cycling calculator to help you take the guesswork out of how to break down your macros.
Lower Your Daily Calories
At the end of the day if you burn more calories than you consume you will ultimately lose weight. So if you’re struggling to lose those extra pounds you can start by cutting back 200-300 calories a day for a few weeks and monitor your progress. The key here is to not make dramatic cuts too fast. You might initially lose weight but this is hardly a sustainable way of life and often leads to binges and gaining back more weight than you lost. So if this is the approach you decided to take just take it slow and make small adjustments. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint.
Try A Thermogenic Fat Burner
Thermogenic fat burners are supplements that are usually stimulant based that help increase your body’s metabolic activity. Your body’s temperature will be slightly elevated and your resting heart rate will be elevated. This helps you to burn more calories while at rest throughout the day. If this is something you are considering just be sure to do your research on the product that you’re buying and be sure to look at all of the ingredients in detail. If you have any type of pre existing heart condition, or are sensitive to stimulants, you should probably avoid these supplements, for they might lead to unwanted side effects. But if you’re in good health, you can couple these with a solid nutrition plan to help you burn extra fat.
I think it’s safe to say that hitting any kind of plateau sucks. It sucks even more if you get stuck there for a while. In this article we talked about 6 ways to break through a weight loss plateau. So the next time you find yourself slowing down or getting stuck give some of these methods a try and you should be able to quickly break through. I hope you found this information useful and as always, stay swell and swole my friends!