shop our products

How to Break Through Plateaus

how-to-break-through-plateaus
Do you sometimes feel like you’re putting in a ton of effort during your workouts, but you’ve hit a ceiling with your body transformation goals? Are you working your butt off but seeing little to no improvement in your strength, fitness, and weight? In the fitness world, this is what we call hitting a *plateau*-a point where you’ve pushed yourself hard, but you just can’t make any more progress from doing what you’re doing. Fortunately, this happens to even the best of us and, yes, there are changes you can make to break through your plateau and get back to seeing the results you want to see. We’re going to show you how in this article! <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9 w-md-75 my-5 mx-auto"> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/R-z7jkpIliM" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe> </div> First, let’s talk a little bit about why we hit plateaus. The main reason we hit plateaus is that we as human beings are really great at adapting to new stimuli and routines. That’s why when you first start working out and dieting, you’ll notice a big change right away. Once your body adapts to those new routines, though, things may start to level out. This is a challenge with both your diet and your exercise routines. The body initially responds very well to changes in your diet and your workouts, creating great results when you’re just getting started. But over time your body adjusts, meaning you need to make some routine changes in order to get back to meeting your goals. The great news is that even if it feels like you’re stuck in place forever, there are things you can to do get back on track. Keep reading to find out how to change your diet, exercise, and recovery routines to break through any plateau so you can return to your regularly scheduled gains! <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_1_1_40.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> First up, let’s talk about diet. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Diet</p></h4> You’ve meticulously calculated your macronutrients, upped your kale intake, and are nailing your calorie deficit like the boss you are, but your body just isn’t transforming the way it was when you started. What gives? One thing that happens is that over time, we adjust to our calorie intake, and our bodies respond by dropping our metabolism. When your metabolism decreases, your body burns calories at a much slower rate than it does when your metabolism is higher. You do need to stay in a calorie deficit to lose weight, meaning that you should burn more calories than you consume. But, if you go too low with your calorie intake, this might mean that you’re feeling hungry, but you’re still not losing weight. What a frustrating contradiction! Another challenge is what’s known as the *compensatory eating reaction*. The more you starve yourself and the more you deprive yourself of the calories and nutrients your body needs, the more likely you are to break your diet and binge eat. You might even feel like you’re not in control of your food intake in these moments as your body is simply so desperate for the calories it needs that you break down and indulge. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_2_2_10.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> In fact, research shows that exercise might actually worsen your compensatory eating reaction. A study<sup>1</sup> from *Physiology and Behavior* found that some people are more prone to this reaction than others. Those who are compensators showed an increase in calorie intake and an enhanced desire for food-particularly high-fat sweet foods-following a rigorous bout of exercise. Still, you can curb these effects, and the best way to do so is with a diet change that is currently sweeping the fitness community: intermittent fasting. *Intermittent fasting* is a method for reducing your calorie intake and jump-starting your metabolism by fasting for a portion of your day. In order to start, all you need to do is skip breakfast-it’s that simple. Over time, you can skip breakfast and lunch, opting to have a big meal for dinner. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_3_2_46.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> One of the most recent studies on intermittent fasting from researchers at the University of Chicago showed truly promising results. Participants who fasted for eight hours each day not only lost three percent<sup>2</sup> more weight than their non-fasting counterparts, but they also consumed 300 calories<sup>2</sup> less per day just from making this one simple change. But, wait! Didn’t we just say that reducing your calorie intake *causes* you to plateau? Yes, and that’s why each week you need to have a cheat day. If you take one day per week and eat a surplus of calories, you’ll trick your body back into increasing your metabolism to use all that extra energy. This means that you won’t have that drop in metabolism from decreasing your caloric intake *and* you get to spend one day each week indulging. It’s a win-win! <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_4_3_23.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> Still, with any fitness routine, you need a multilayered approach. Let’s see how our exercise routines can cause us to plateau and learn the steps to take to break through. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Exercise</p></h4> Our number one suggestion when it comes to powering through exercise plateaus is to add what we call a *finisher* to the end of your workout. A finisher is a five-minute block of high-intensity training that you can do when you’ve completed your regular workout. Low- to moderate-intensity exercise increases your metabolism, but that increase typically burns out shortly after your workout is done. High-intensity exercise skyrockets your metabolism with each added high-intensity interval boosting your metabolism a little bit more. Unlike less vigorous exercise, that massive increase in your body’s calorie-burning capacity lingers long after the workout is done. Plus, high-intensity training does a lot of work for you in a short period of time. That’s why you only need to commit to five minutes of this type of training after each workout to see some massive results. One of the best finishers in our book is jump squats. Here’s how you do them: 1. Start by standing with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. 2. Hinge at the hips and drop as low to the ground as you can. 3. Press through your heels and jump up as high as you can. 4. Once you land, immediately drop into your next squat. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_5_3-58.jpg" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> If you can’t do jump squats just yet, that’s totally fine! Just do normal body squats, dropping as low to the ground as you can, then pressing back up to the starting position without jumping. In order to make these exercises into the perfect finisher, you’re going to do ten sets of ten repetitions of jump squats or body squats. Set a timer for thirty seconds, then start doing your squats. When you’re done with a set, rest until the timer goes off, then move on to your next set. This move is going to get blood pumping to your muscles while setting your metabolism on fire. A 2018 study<sup>3</sup> even found that, in mice, the combination of intermittent fasting with high-intensity training has a *synergistic* effect. This means that when you intermittent fast and do a finisher like jump squats after your workout, your body does a better job of *oxidizing*-or burning-fat than it does if you just intermittent fast or just perform a finisher alone. The combination of these two adjustments will help you to blast through your plateau, but there’s one last crucial piece to the puzzle we need to discuss: recovery. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Recovery</p></h4> Our normal reaction to hitting a plateau is to work out harder and cut back on our calories even more. That response seems completely logical, but there’s a factor at play that many of us haven’t considered: stress. When we overtrain and undereat, we tax our bodies and cause stress. Stress, in turn, spikes our *cortisol* levels which sends a message to the body to hold onto fat and to burn muscle instead. This means that as our cortisol levels rise, we’re much more likely to decrease our performance level while holding onto and even gaining extra weight. Again, this contradiction can be incredibly frustrating. After all, you’re putting in the time and doing everything right only to achieve the exact opposite of your desired results. Fortunately, there is one simple thing you can do to get adequate recovery and prevent this contradiction from happening in the first place: <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Sleep</p></h4> Sleep is the time when our muscles recover and when new muscle builds. Research has also begun to show that there is a significant correlation<sup>4</sup> between short sleep durations and weight gain. Sleep is truly the thing that ties it all together. When we don’t get enough sleep, our cortisol levels rise which, as we mentioned earlier, leads to breaking down muscle and holding onto stubborn fat. Rising cortisol means an increase in stress which often negatively impacts both the quality and duration of our sleep. Sleep deprivation can then cause an increase in our appetite, setting off a feedback loop of poor recovery, high stress, and bad eating. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_6_5_05.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> That’s why we recommend you try to get a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep each night with up to nine hours providing the greatest benefit. But, sleep duration isn’t enough in and of itself. You want to make sure that you’re getting quality sleep by using blinds to block out light and making sure that there isn’t anything loud or bright that might disrupt your sleep. It’s also a good idea to set down your screens long before you go to bed and choose something relaxing to do like reading to get yourself into the sleeping mood. When you’re well-rested and fully recovered, your body is going to release fat, helping you to break through that plateau even faster. <h4><p style="color: rgba(187, 52, 47, 1)">Adding It All Up</p></h4> The most crucial piece of this puzzle is that you need to focus on all three of these elements-diet, exercise, and recovery-in order to break through a plateau. If you’ve found yourself stuck and at a loss for how to move forward, ask yourself these questions: am I getting the right amount of calories to maintain a good metabolism? Am I incorporating high-intensity training into my workout routine? And, am I getting the right quality and duration of sleep each night? If you’ve answered *no* to any of these questions, it’s time to put our plateau-breaking plan to work. To recap, here’s what to do: * Try *intermittent fasting*. Simply skip breakfast tomorrow, then over time, swap your two meals per day for one big, nutrient-dense dinner. * Add a five-minute high-intensity *finisher* to the end of each of your workouts. Ten sets of ten repetitions of jump squats with a brief rest between sets should do the trick! * Get between seven and a half and nine hours of quality *sleep* every single night. <div class="text-left my-5"> <img class="img-fluid w-md-75 image-center" src="https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/wm-wmade-static-media/media/public/Assets/images/BreakPlateaus_7_5_53.png" alt="Break-Plateaus"> </div> It’s just as simple as that. This incredibly effective plan will have you shattering your plateaus without having to adhere to crazy diet and exercise plans that might actually be causing you to plateau in the first place. So make the commitment and get started on these habits today. Your body will thank you for it! <h5><p style="color: #000000">Resources</p></h5> 1. [Acute compensatory eating following exercise](https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031938409000456?via%3Dihub) 2. [Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding](https://content.iospress.com/articles/nutrition-and-healthy-aging/nha170036#ref018%20ref019.) 3. [Combining intermittent fasting with high intensity interval training](https://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/items/b5233712-24d3-4b03-baf0-248172ff522c/1/) 4. [Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain](https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2007.118)

Previous Post

Back to Exercise

Next Post