We’ve all been there. The dreaded training plateau. You’ve been making progress, seeing changes and then….nothing. Crickets.
Here are a few things you need to consider when you think you’ve hit a plateau:
How long have you been dieting for? If you’ve been dieting for an extended period of time then you may have hit a plateau due to prolonged calorie restriction. If you’ve only been at it for a couple weeks then chances are you simply need to give your body more time to adapt, adjust and change.
Are you using various methods to measure your progress? The scale will only reveal so much, therefore I usually suggest taking some measurements and using progress pictures too. Plus, if you’re putting on lean muscle mass AND losing fat the scale may not change much.
I actually weigh more in the photo on the right.
I also don’t recommend weighing yourself all the time – you’ll drive yourself crazy. If I were to weigh myself multiple times a day my weight would vary 3-7lbs…in a day! That’s because your weight fluctuates throughout the day as you eat, drink water, etc. Weighing yourself isn’t a bad idea but it shouldn’t be the ‘be all end all’ of how you measure your progress.
Have you been doing the same exercise routine? When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important to implement certain changes so you can avoid the dreaded plateau. This applies not only to your eating habits but to your exercise as well. You need to be changing things up to keep your body making progress.
Now, I’m not saying you need to change your workouts every week, but every 6 to 12 weeks (depending on the style of training you’re doing) it’s a good idea to assess your workouts. This doesn’t mean you have to switch from lifting weights to barre class, it can be much simpler than that. When it comes to weight training there are so many different ways to mix things up including your rep schemes, rest periods, time under tension, etc that there is always something you can do to spice things up. It’s why I recommend weight training to my nutrition clients – it’s one of the fastest ways to dramatically transform your body, build a killer metabolism and feel really empowered doing it.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to plateaus:
1. Weight loss plateaus are common
2. The more weight you lose, the more likely it is you will hit a plateau eventually
3. If you’re close to your ideal weight, those last 5-10 pounds are going to be difficult to get rid of without a solid plan
So, let’s say you have hit a plateau. What can you do about it?
Take a good hard look at your calorie intake. It’s no secret that calories matter when it comes to weight loss. People typically start out their weight loss journey eating very ‘clean’ and then re-introduce foods as they go along. The problem is, people seem to think that certain healthy sounding foods can be eaten in large quantities without repercussions. Things like coconut oil, almond butter, dark chocolate, nuts, agave syrup and gluten free items.
*side note* when did people start assuming that gluten free means healthy? Gluten free foods normally contain more fat because you need extra fat to make foods without gluten taste good
If you’re still over consuming calories – even if they’re seemingly healthy calories – you’re not going to lose weight. It’s important to be mindful of your calories and your portion sizes.
Be mindful of discretionary calories. How many little bites, tastes and samples of things do you consume on a daily basis? When you’re cooking dinner, do you sample the food as you eat? Do you mindlessly snack at night? Are you heavy handed with the butter and olive oil? Do you drink a lot of your calories? These are things most people don’t think about but if you’re on a quest to lose stubborn fat they are things that need to be considered.
Are you doing things with intensity or just going through the motions? While you likely aren’t losing weight because of your diet, exercise obviously plays a factor as well. Are you just coasting through your workouts?
When you go to the gym, do you arrive with a plan or do you simply do whatever you feel like? I can tell you that people who have a solid plan in place do much better than those who simply wing it. Are you pushing yourself? Trying to beat your previous time? Adding more weight? Upping the reps? These are all important things that could be holding you back.
Yes, it’s great that you made it to the gym but simply showing up isn’t enough. You need a plan and you need to execute that plan with some serious effort. And yes, I acknowledge that we all have bad training days but if you’re feeling out of your groove more often than not it’s time to get some help.
If you’ve been struggling and you feel stuck, considering consulting a professional. Whether that means hiring a personal trainer or using a fitness and nutrition professional, find someone that jives with you and understands your struggles.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive plan designed to help you bust through plateaus using smart nutrition, effective workouts and no food restrictions, my program Eat Carbs, Kick Ass + Get Lean may be just what you’re looking for. It combines macro cycling to keep your body guessing (and no crazy low carb days because that sucks) and utilizes flexible dieting, meaning that no food is off limits.
It also includes 8 weeks of workouts that will challenge and change you as well as access to tons of HIIT workouts so you can really get that metabolism fired up. Once you purchase the program it’s yours forever and I’ve had a ton of people successfully use it to break through plateaus they never thought they could.
If you want to learn more about carb cycling and how it can help you break through plateaus, grab my free mini guide to get familiar with the concepts and get started carb cycling for yourself.
Don’t throw in the towel when things get tough with weight loss. It’s usually right when things get tough that people are almost at a breakthrough point.
What separates the successful people from those who fail to reach their goals is that successful people stick with it, even when it feels like nothing is happening