Have you noticed that despite exercising regularly you don’t seem to increasing your strength or fitness? Or maybe your weight loss has slowed down to the point where the scales refuse to budge? Don’t panic, it’s very common and, when you know how, easy to overcome.
Personal trainer Kristoph Thompson has helped many people successfully break fitness and weight plateaus, we asked him to share his secrets.
Help, the scales are stuck!
The closer you get to your target weight, the harder it is to shed those pounds and unfortunately, the workout programme that has got you this far may not be enough to get you to your goal weight. Your body gets used to exercise you do regularly, adapting and improving so each time you do the same workout it takes less effort. That’s when you reach a fitness or weight loss plateau. Whilst this means you’re getting fitter, the downside is that you burn fewer calories.
You need to continually raise the bar to keep your body burning lots of calories. Exercising more often, for longer, or working harder during your sessions (for example by using heavier weights or moving faster) is an easy way to increase the intensity. But what works really well is shocking the body with a new type of activity. Full body exercises, like swimming, are great for maximum calorie burn.
I keep running but I don’t seem to be getting any better at it, what’s going on?
If you’re running outside you may well have got faster without realising it as we tend to run at the pace that feels most natural and as your fitness improves, a speedier pace will feel more comfortable. That’s why it’s a good to time your runs to keep track of progress.
If you’re running on a treadmill, when are you doing it? If it’s at the end of a gym session your body could be too fatigued to show any real improvements. To make a fair assessment of your fitness, go for your run when you’re fresh.
Interval training is one of the best ways to improve your fitness and stamina and adding intervals into any run is easy. Interval training involves switching between periods of higher and lower intensity exercise. If you’re on a treadmill try varying the speed or incline of the belt every two minutes or 500m.
The higher intensity period should be hard enough to push you but not so hard you need to stop and rest at the end as it’s important to keep moving throughout the lower intensity interval (recovery phase). If you’re running outside use landmarks such as lampposts and bus stops to mark the start and finish of intervals as well as any steps or hills that you come across on route. Interval training is great for breaking a weight loss plateau as well, so give it a go!
I train with weights but I’m not getting any stronger and my muscles aren’t growing, why?
It’s easy to slack off during resistance training and this has a knock on effect on results. Ensure you’re doing no more than 15 repetitions per set – you should be using a weight heavy enough so that you work to the point where you couldn’t do another rep. If you can manage more than 15 reps it’s a sign that you’re not working hard enough. Keep rests between sets no longer than 45 seconds.
No matter how toned and strong your muscles are, however, if they’re covered by a layer of fat then they won’t be seen. Keep up the good work with the weights, but also increase your cardio activity aiming for at least 30 minutes five times a week. You can also reduce body fat through diet. Cut back on sugar, processed food and alcohol and stick to low GI foods that give you a steady release of energy throughout the day to prevent snacking.
With Kristoph Thompson.
What now...?diet, fitness, How to Break a Fitness Plateau, How to Break a Weight loss Plateau, lose weight, plateau, running, slimming, strength, Weight Loss