One of the top questions I get from clients is how to get over the “final hurdle” – whether it’s those last ten pounds or it’s the extra definition or size of a certain muscle group. Check out these top 5 ways to breakthrough the plateau!
1. Get off the machines
Many people use machines as an introduction to a resistance-training program. However, they do not provide the same benefits as free and body weight exercises when trying to build lean muscle, strengthen your core, and feeling a cardiovascular benefit.
Body weight and free weight exercises challenge not only your primary muscles, but activate joint stabilizers and the infamous core muscles (abs, glutes, and lower back) that are not utilized at all when using machines. You even build strength from holding up your dumbbells! Choose a few basic exercises to get started (e.g. burpees, squats, overhead press, rows) and ensure you have your technique down before increasing your weight to avoid injury.
2. Change it up!
Your body will get accustomed to whatever you put it through and lots of people experience plateaus because they do the same thing day in and day out. Sometimes your body needs a bit of “shock” to move forward. This can come in the form of new exercises, different amounts of weight/resistance, an increased tempo, or different style reps. Try paused-reps, partial-reps or bottom-half-reps to maximize your gains in the full range of motion version and try picking up your pace to eliminate rest between sets.
3. Getting the most from your cardio
Lots of people think longer is better when it comes to cardio. This is NOT true! Your body adapts to this style of training, so your results plateau, which in turn means you have to do longer cardio workouts.
Instead, try high intensity interval training (HIIT) which consists of intense bursts of exercise followed by less intense ‘recovery’ periods of exercise that are continually repeated in the same training session. This could be sprints interspersed with jogging, for example.The ‘rest’ or less intense phase allows you to recover from more intense exercise while still moving.
The goal is to burn fat and not muscle. Long sessions of cardio burn both! So instead of completing long training sessions, cut your training time down by incorporating HIIT and reap the rewards of burning more body fat while maintaining your lean muscle.
With HIIT, you can get tons of results in a short period of time – and it’s more fun!
4. Don’t forget to eat!
By not eating enough calories or eating too infrequently, your body goes into “starvation” mode where it thinks it needs to store fat. This is NOT good! In order to keep your metabolism up and prevent yourself from overeating at any given meal, it’s important to fuel your body consistently throughout the day. pack snacks (raw almonds, single serving greek yogurt,berries, cut up veggies) to make sure you can snack on the right things. You should aim to eat something every three hours.
5. Clean it up
Nutrition is 80% of the weight loss battle. You absolutely MUST clean up your diet to see the results you want. Watching calories is important, but you need to make sure the calories you’re consuming are the ones that will keep you satisfied and give you the fuel you need for effective workouts! There are certain things that you need to get rid of: alcohol, processed foods, refined sugars/flours, and fried foods have NO place in your body.
Instead, try to focus on lots of veggies, lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey), low sugar fruits, some high-fiber whole grains, and good fats like avocado, olive oil, and almonds. High protein, low-fat dairy like greek yogurt can also work as well.
With these 5 steps you should be able to break through that plateau and reach the next big goal!