6 Ways to Power Through Your Weight Loss Plateau
17th OF May 2012
When you’re trying to lose weight, there’s nothing more frustrating than hitting the inevitable weight loss plateau. In fact, studies show that reaching a plateau can actually increase your levels of depression and your desire to eat while simultaneously decreasing your levels of fullness (how’s that for unfair?)
By Sally Symonds
But the key to overcoming a plateau is simple: shock your body. Weight loss stops when your body gets used to your new eating and exercising habits. Shocking your body gives it the wake-up call it needs to start losing weight again.
Try these simple exercise shock techniques to push through the plateau:
1. Frequency – whatever your current exercise routine is, try doubling your efforts for a week or two. If you walk once a day, then aim for twice a day. If you exercise twice a week, increase it to four times per week. Sure, it sounds extreme – but a week of two of drastic intervention can save a month or more of potential frustration.
2. Intensity – if you’re a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race exerciser, try interval training, Tabata or HIRT (high intensity resistance training) sessions. Again, the pain is short-lived but results are worth the effort.
3. Time – If your regular workout is 20 minutes, try increasing it by five to ten minutes every session, or aim for a “plus two” or “plus ten” or approach, ie: Monday: 10 squats Wednesday: 20 squats Friday: 30 squats, etc.
4. Type – Swap the cross trainer for a rowing machine, the leg press for squats, or the crunch for the plank. If you usually do 70% cardio and 30% strength training each week, alternate the ratios to keep your body guessing.
5. Technique – It doesn’t matter how many reps you do if you aren’t doing the exercise correctly in the first place! Work out in front of a mirror, video yourself or invest in a session with a reputable personal trainer to check your form.
6. Tempo – Most people’s movements while strength training operate at the same tempo – 2-1-2-1. This means that the initial (or eccentric) part of the movement - such as lowering your butt in a squat - takes two seconds.
Then there’s a small delay at the end of the movement (called an isometric pause). This is followed by another two seconds during the second (or concentric) part of the movement (such as raising your butt out of a squat back into standing). Finally, there’s a one second pause (again, referred to as an isometric pause) before you repeat the whole thing.
This is how most beginners are taught to exercise. However, more advanced exercisers usually incorporate a number of different tempos – 4-2-1-0, 4-2-1-3, 5-0-1-0 etc.
Incorporating such variety into your training not only helps increase your levels of fat burning enzymes (a plateau-buster in itself) it’s also a great way to help alleviate exercise boredom. Plateaus are one of the most common reasons people give up on their weight loss.
If you’re tempted to follow suit, think back to that moment in Sliding Doors when one Gwyneth Paltrow gets on the train (and consequently discovers her boyfriend is having an affair, so ditches him, goes blonde, gets a new bloke and lives happily ever after), and the other Gwyneth Paltrow misses the train (and consequently stays with her love rat boyfriend and wastes a big chunk of her life). It can be hard to keep going, but you don’t want to end up like Gwyneth number two and waste any more of your life with your “excess baggage”.
Your plateau is just a bump in the road, so put your foot on the accelerator and drive over it!
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