So, you’ve been working out everyday for months and your weight isn’t changing. What are you doing wrong, and how can you fix it? I have one word for you: change. If your progress is starting to plateau you have to change what you are doing.
The human body is very adaptable, which can be a great thing. But, when it comes to exercise you never want your body to get too comfortable. You have to challenge your body to change. Once you get comfortable with something, you will stop improving. Today I am going to share with you how to overcome a weight loss plateau and some ways to switch up your workout routine.
Think back to when you were younger and learning how to type. You likely reached a certain skill level and stopped trying to improve. Now you just keep typing as you always have: no better, no worse. Exercise works the same way. If you feel like your squats are good enough and you don’t need to work on them anymore, they’ll stay the same forever and stop challenging you. If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, you may want to go back to the basics and see if you can improve on any exercises. This attention to detail will probably force you to work harder. You don’t want to get lazy with your workouts. So, focus on your form as you exercise and build from there. This is small thing you can try to refocus your workouts and beat your weight loss plateau.
Another great way to push past a weight loss drought is to add variation to your workout. Try something new and switch up your workout structure. Variety is important no matter what your fitness goals are because it keeps your muscles confused. And when your muscles are confused, they are working double time.
Try doing one of these workouts this week, to add variety to your routine –
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and it is exactly what it sounds like: intense. If you are used to steady state cardio or slow-paced weight lifting workouts, you should throw some HIIT into your routine. Don’t do HIIT everyday, but try it a few times a week, and you will see it’s fat-burning effects. Tabata is a certain type of HIIT that is composed of 20-second intervals of intense movement followed by 10-second intervals of active recovery. If you repeat this pattern for 4-minutes you should be exhausted afterwards. The catch is, you have to work really hard for that 4-minutes. If you only give 80% during the 20-second intervals, you won’t get as much out of the workout. You have to give 100% the whole time.
Pyramid training is something you can do with both cardio and resistance training, but I will give you an example of how it can intensify your resistance training sessions. Imagine a pyramid right now – it starts low and reaches a peak before declining. If you are lifting weights, start with a lighter weight for a higher number of repetitions. Each set after that, you increase the weight and decrease the repetitions. You can also reverse this by starting heavy and dropping the weight each time (this is known as a reverse pyramid). Once you reach the top of your pyramid, you need to come back down by reversing what you just did. Pyramid training is a great way to keep your muscles confused and working hard. I love using the pyramid method when doing squats or leg presses because it’s more exciting than doing 5 sets with the same heavy weight.
A ladder is similar to pyramid training but you only move in one direction, not both. Let me give you an example of how this can work with time instead of repetitions. Start by doing an exercise for 60 seconds, and then drop 10 seconds each time you do the exercise. I like to use the ladder structure when doing plyometrics. I’ll do squat jumps, line hops, and box jumps all for 60 seconds and drop down to 50 seconds the next round. This way of training can burn a lot of fat.
A superset is a great way to work during your resistance training sessions. It’s also a smart way to work multiple muscle groups in one workout. If you are used to training one muscle a day, you need to change that. By attacking multiple muscles in one workout you can increase your fat burn and muscle gains. In a superset you pair two exercises together that work opposing muscle groups. For instance, try doing a back exercise followed by a chest one. You can reduce your rest time by working this way because the opposite muscle can rest as you do the other exercise.
One of my favorite ways to workout is circuit training. Circuit workouts can make resistance training sessions feel like cardio. Create a circuit of 4-8 exercises. These exercises can be a mix of body weight, plyometric, or classic weight lifting moves. Do the exercises one after another, not allowing yourself more than 20-40 seconds of rest in between each. The minimal rest will help promote fat loss.
The main idea here is to do workouts that you’re not entirely comfortable with. If you are a sprinter and find that you aren’t progressing anymore, try going for a longer run. Some people call this cross training. If you’ve always been a cyclist, try swimming a couple days a week. This change will challenge your body in a completely new way and will have positive effects in both your skill and weight loss.
Whether you’re trying to overcome a weight loss plateau or get stronger as an athlete, get out of your comfort zone and challenge your body.
** Previously published on www.watchfit.com