If you were someone who pledged on New Years Eve to start a fitness regime, then well done. You’ve proved that you can stick the course and should have some great results to show for it. But whether you’ve been aiming for weight loss, a better level of fitness or to build mass, you might find that you’re beginning to see progress slow. You’re still sticking to your diet and workouts but your progress has stopped ascending and has slowed or even stopped. Not only do you not know why, but it’s making you lose your passion.
You’ve reached what is called a plateau, and you’ll find that upon reaching it your morale has hit an all time low. We all like to see progress and are much happier and more motivated when we can see the fruits of our labour. It’s the same with anything – imagine spending all day at work doing a great job only to not get paid – there’s no incentive for you to do the same the next day.
You might have been working out for longer than six months – you might have been striving to achieve your fitness goal for the last couple of years. You could even be just a couple of months away from glory when you find that those last couple of kgs won’t seem to budge, those biceps curls just aren’t paying off or smashing that PB seems unachievable.
But have you really reached a plateau in your training? If your progress has ground to a halt, despite your best efforts, then it definitely sounds like you have. Although you aren’t losing muscles or gaining weight, you’re not making the progression that you once were.
In time (and the amount of time varies for each individual) our body adjusts to the stresses we put it under whilst training. When you very first start lifting you may see muscle growth at a high rate as your body reacts to new exercises and weights. Then as your body adapts, these exercises become second nature. You may feel like your body stopped growing from the same exercises that once saw quick results – this is because your body now understands those exercises. If you want to progress then you need to give your body a reason to grow. Another reason for a plateau can be overtraining, which kicks in after you have trained either too often or for too long.
What is the plateau?
A weight loss plateau can be explained by the basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the energy required by your body to keep it functioning – decreasing alongside your body mass. As you body weight shrinks, the calories needed to keep you working become less as it becomes easier for your body to cope with the job it needs to do. As BMR accounts for roughly 60 – 70% of the calories you expel in a day, a decrease can have quite an effect when you step onto the scales.
Our top 5 tips for overcoming the plateau
We have pulled together five useful tips for anyone stuck in a plateau. Whether you’re currently struggling or you’ve just moved past one, we’d love to hear what tips and tricks you have to get past a plateau. Get in touch via Facebook or Twitter and let us know!
Regardless of how low you feel about being stuck – hang in there. Even if you continue to only gain or lose weight at a third of the rate you had previously been working to, this is still progress and although slow, is better than if you were heading in the opposite direction.
Don’t throw it all away
Don’t let a lull in progress cause a fall from your programme. If you are on a weight loss regime, don’t get into the mindset of ‘what’s the worst it can do?’ when it comes to bad foods. If you had a crack in the windscreen of your car, however much effort it took to do, you would replace the window. No one ever thinks ‘oh well’ and smashes it in with a hammer…. Apply the same principles to your body.
Remind yourself just how far you’ve come. Look at your progress pictures and feel proud of what you’ve achieved so far. Remind yourself of your goal, how hard you’ve worked to get to this point and how good it will feel when you have achieved what you set out to do. Instant morale booster!
Variety is the spice of life!
If you are following a weight loss diet then you have probably been concentrating on cardio, so changing your routine to include resistance training can really help boost both your interest in your workout and the amount of weight coming off – plus if you gain muscle then your BMR will also increase.
If training for strength or to add mass switching focus can often improve results and you might be surprised to find that the body part you were originally losing the battle with suddenly catches up. For example, if your arms aren’t progressing then try focusing on exercises for your chest and back. These exercises will stimulate different muscle fibres and you should see improvement in most areas of your upper body, including your arms. Adding in a different exercise to your routine every four weeks or so should see your mind reinvigorated and your body showing results.
Look at your protein intake
For both the dieter and the mass builder, protein is immensely helpful. There is some evidence that suggests dieters burning fat and carbohydrate calories from a high protein diet may be preserving their BMR, whilst we all know about the muscle building benefits of high protein intake. Taking a brutally honest look at your diet and nutrition can be a wake up call for some, whilst for others it provides an opportunity to surprise your body with a change in fuel. BULK POWDERS™ offer a range of protein products from whey protein and egg white protein to beef protein, giving you the opportunity to change up your protein sources whilst still keeping a high level in your diet.