During your journey of improving your body shape and health, you are likely to experience a plateau at some point. This is a period when you do not see or notice any progress with your fat loss goals.
Plateaus can be very frustrating. You keep showing up to train and you perceive to be on track with your nutrition but you just don’t get rewarded for your consistent efforts. As a result, it can be very easy to lose motivation and give up on your goal altogether. Progress stimulates consistency, and it is vital that you are improving each week during your journey.
So, how can you break through these plateaus? And how can you make sure that you are moving in the right direction.
Analyse Your Nutrition
Are you on the right nutrition plan? And are you consistent with it? These are questions that you need to look at and be honest about with yourself. Firstly, you may be on the wrong number of daily calories – too high meaning you are not in a calorie deficit, and too low meaning your metabolism has grinded to a halt, which prevents further fat burning.
So, you need to look at your physical details (height, weight, muscle mass), current energy output and lifestyle (eg. active or sedentary job) to determine whether you are on the right plan or not. You must also look at your protein intake (1g per pound of bodyweight) and identify if there are any liquids, oils, dressings that you are not tracking which are taing your calorie intake overboard.
Progress Your Training
Is your training moving forward? This is a key area to focus on. Your sessions should be challenging and encouraging you to work hard. If they are not, then it is unlikely that your energy output will be high enough for your body to change. As the weeks go by, you should be getting stronger and more confident with certain exercises, meaning that the weight you lift and the intensity of your sessions should be increasing.
Furthermore, you must aim to make each exercise as challenging as possible. This means performing each rep in a full range of motion, with a slow, controlled tempo that allows more tension to be placed on the target muscle. The harder you work, the more calories you will burn in your session and therefore the higher chance of you continuing to burn more body fat efficiently.
Improve Lifestyle Habits
When trying to get in shape, many people often complicate what is necessary. It can be easy to go deep into training and nutritional issues and make drastic changes, yet often it can be simple lifestyle habits that are making the difference. If you are out of shape, the likelihood is that you have certain lifestyle habits that are holding you back. However, until you do more research or reach out to someone, you may not realise that your lifestyle is your biggest problem when it comes to achieving your goals.
So, look at areas such as poor sleep, all-or-nothing mindset, limited movement, weekend binging and intolerant food groups and see how you can improve them. These are simple but important changes that you can implement to make your journey more manageable and give you a better chance of being consistent.
Be More Active
Although training and diet are both vital, they are not the only things that will help you create that crucial calorie deficit to help you lose fat and change your body shape. Adding in a sustainable form of cardio to your routine is going to help you burn those extra calories that will place you in a deficit of 400-500 calories.
This does not mean you have to jump on the treadmill every day. It means finding a form of cardio that is low intensity, enjoyable and easy on your body. The most popular form is walking a minimum of 9-10k steps per day, which can burn anywhere between 300-400 calories, depending on the individual. Aside from the fat loss benefits, going out for a walk is great for your mental health and allows you time to de-stress from certain situations. Make this part of your daily routine and it will hugely benefit your progress.
Work On Your Recovery
Recovery is going to be one of the most important areas to master during your fitness journey. For you to be consistent with the tasks required to reach your goals, you have to be in an optimum position, both physically and mentally. Many people make the mistake of burning themselves out when trying to get in shape through high-intensity workouts, demanding exercise routines, and ultra-restrictive diets. Not only is this detrimental to your performance and progress, but it can also be harmful to your overall health.
Sleep is crucial, not only to your fat loss progress but also to your overall health. A high-quality night’s sleep of seven to nine hours gives your body much-needed rest and recovery from your daily exercise and tasks, which is also vital to recovery and progression. Furthermore, you produce a large portion of your growth hormone when you sleep, particularly in the first two hours. To build lean muscle tissue, increase strength and burn fat efficiently, we need growth hormones, and as your growth hormone levels decrease gradually in your late twenties, the importance of sleep then increases.
So, if you are staying consistent but have hit a brick wall, there are areas in which you can break through and keep moving forward. These include analysing your nutrition, progressing your training, improving lifestyle habits, being more active, and working on your recovery. Make sure you look at these areas in great depth and aim to improve them. Once you do, you should find that you break through your current plateau and continue to progress.