One thing stands between you and the shredded physique of your dreams—your body fat. The more fit you become, the harder it is to get lean. The techniques that worked for you at the start of your fitness journey slowly become less effective. This isn’t because you’re slacking off; it’s quite the opposite. Your body has adjusted to its new normal. If you want to break through your fat loss plateau, you need to refine your strategy.
Why a fat loss plateau occurs
Before you can blast through your fat loss plateau, there’s a few things you must understand. These plateaus can occur for one of the following reasons:
- Inconsistency: If you skip a workout each week, that’s one less opportunity you have to burn calories. You must expend more calories than you consume. This is tough to do if you aren’t sticking to your routine.
- Lack of intensity: Don’t treat yourself with kid gloves. Going light on the weights or cutting back on HIIT sessions also reduces your chances to burn fat.
- Skipping recovery: Your recovery is just as important as your workout. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, stretching or foam rolling, or drinking enough water, you aren’t giving your body the fuel it needs to bounce back and keep burning.
- Diet missteps: Failing to track your caloric intake can lead to overeating. Also, having cheat meals too often can easily bump up your numbers. And, skipping out on pre- and post-workout nutrition could lead your body to burn muscle for fuel—instead of fat.
Inconsistencies in your diet, workout frequency, and workout intensity can lead to disappointment on the scale. But fear not, there are some easy ways to break through your plateau.
Stick to the program
If you miss one workout, you seriously increase your odds of missing another one. Consistency keeps you focused and helps you develop a routine. But sticking to your program also gives you a chance to master your form and technique for key exercises. As you become more proficient, you become stronger. You can add on more weight and try different variations—both of which can help you burn more fat.
Push yourself during every workout; don’t back off when things get tough. Go for that last rep or add on that extra plate. This is often the last little push you need to take things up a notch. Additionally, keep moving after your workout. Let’s say you work out in the morning and then sit at your desk all day. You’re missing out on opportunities to continue burning calories, and you’re slowing down your metabolism. Take every chance you have to walk to a destination or take the stairs. Keep moving.
Recovery is a two-pronged strategy. First, it’s essential that you drink enough water, get enough sleep (ideally 8 hours a night), and stretch or foam roll. These activities ensure your body can repair the micro tears in your muscles. Thus, you’ll have the energy and strength to head back for your next workout. Second, be sure to alternate muscle groups. If you want to work out 6 days a week, you can. But don’t spend 3 of those days working on your chest. Give each muscle group a chance to recover.
Your caloric intake matters. If you aren’t tracking your food, there’s no way to ensure you’re properly fueling your activity. To burn fat, you need to eat less than you expend. You can only guarantee this is happening if you track your calories using a fitness tracker like MyFitnessPal. Also, the timing of your nutrition is key. You should have some type of pre-workout nutrition, whether it’s a pre-workout formula or simple carbs like bananas. This gives your muscles an immediate boost to power through your workout. Afterward, you should load up on protein and complex carbs. And, go easy on the cheat meals. One treat each week will suffice but an entire cheat day can derail your efforts.
Breaking through a fat loss plateau shouldn’t require you to suffer and starve. But it does take consistency and commitment. Take the time to assess your program and your diet to ensure you’re making all the right moves.