That's a good question. There's plenty of trial and error when it comes to losing weight, making steady progress and keeping it off. If you're at your wit's end......
Here are 12 tips to help you break that pesky weight loss plateau:
1. Keep burning fat, even if its at a slower pace than when you first started. A weekly .5% body fat decrease is good progress if you have been exercising for months. Your weigh scale number may decrease a little, stay the same or even increase a little. Why? Because muscle weighs more than fat. You will be leaner though and that's what you want.
You will need to fine tune your program to keep making progress toward your goals.
2. Food problems anyone? Yes, smart eating is always a huge part of your body-changing success. Get a meal plan that you can maintain over time. You will have to count calories until you know how much, what and when to eat. Do you have a journal?
Use food to fuel your healthy lifestyle and reach your fat loss and weight loss goals.
a. Eat breakfast. A good, healthy breakfast gets your metabolism kicked off for the day. Also, eat small meals every 3-4 hours to keep up your energy and to keep your metabolism active.
b. Plan and pack your meals for the day. This way, you are more likely to stay with your nutrition plan.
c. Carbs are not your enemy. They are your body's preferred source of energy during a tough workout. Just eat the right kind at the right time.
d. Eat protein with every meal. Protein helps you feel fuller for a longer period of time and repairs your muscles after a tough workout.
e. Fiber should compose 25%-35% of your daily calories. Fiber keeps you fuller for longer periods of time and helps you burn fat.
f. Drink water and unsweetened drinks (like tea) most of the time.
g. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, brown rice, fish, lean meats will work.
h. Try not to eat foods stored in a box or bag. These foods are usually loaded with unhealthy trans fats.
i. Stick to your meal plan at least 90% of the time and you should be just fine (provided you are sticking to your exercise plan).
j. Limit sugar consumption from drinks and junk foods.
3. Tired of working out harder and longer with little body-changing success? Increase your workout intensity to burn more fat and shape your body leaner and meaner. The more intense your workout, the more fat you will burn. Quality workouts, and not time spent, are the key to long-term fat loss and weight loss success.
You are exercising at high intensity, if you are sweating profusely, breathing heavily and can only say a few words before pausing to catch your breath.
High intensity workouts will give you maximum fat-burning and heart health benefits in minimum time. You will burn more calories and fat---during and after your workout. Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) causes your body to burn more calories and fat after a tough workout. Your body has to work harder to get back to its pre-exercise state.
So, here are some ways to increase your workout intensity and burn more fat:
4. Shorten the rest time between sets. For example, taking little or no rest between weight training exercises ramps up intensity. You could also vary the repetitions. Circuit training and superset training are good examples.
Your body will adapt and your progress will stall if you do the same basic workout all the time. Other ways to change up an exercise routine----do new exercises, adjust the amount of weight, add a balance component, workout on different surfaces, etc.
5. Do more strength exercises that work major muscle groups and burn more fat. Exercises like squats, deadlift, walking lunges, rows, medicine ball chops, combination exercises and planks will work well.
Strength train your body in all 3 planes of motion. Using strength exercises that require rotations, turning, twisting and side-to-side motions will fit the bill. This will definitely challenge your body more.
6. Shorten your long, boring cardio sessions. A 20-minute sprint interval cardio session will give you more fat-burning and heart-health benefits than a slower 60-minute cardio session.
Stay off the cardio machines. They do too much of the work for you. When you have a choice, do your cardio "on land"---either outside or on the floor. My number one preference for cardio is sprint intervals on grass.
7. Add more plyometric exercises (jump training) to your workouts. Plyometric exercises are very intense and effective. Examples would be squat jumps, box jumps and lateral cone hops.
Power exercises recruit more muscle fibers (mainly fast-twitch fibers) more frequently which helps the fat-burning process. Recruiting your fast-twitch muscle fibers during your workouts will give you a more lean, toned looking body. Competitive athletes in speed sports have hard bodies because they train fast most of the time. You are also an athlete who can train fast.
8. Do more bodyweight cardio workouts. These workouts give you a dual strength and cardio benefit. Bodyweight workouts are great fat burners.
9. Exercises that require high levels of balance and coordination will increase the intensity. Jumping rope comes to mind. Also, include exercises with your eyes closed to improve limb position sense (proprioception).
10. Unilateral exercises are more intense than bilateral exercises. So, Bulgarian split squats are more intense than two-legged squats. Pictured below are barbell step ups. And, one-armed exercises are more intense than similar two-armed exercises.
11. Do complex strength training. You would superset a power exercise with a biomechanically similar strength exercise. An example would be pairing repeating full-speed squat jumps with barbell squats. The barbell squats would be performed 1-2 minutes after the squat jumps.
This is an advanced training method and should not be performed by those who do not have adequate stabilization strength and muscular strength.
12. Do more full speed exercises. Medicine ball, dumbbell and kettlebell exercises are good choices. And, quickness and agility exercises, such as ladder drills, help you change up your workout intensity with short bursts to burn fat faster.
Before you know it, you will have broken through your weight loss plateau! Try these 12 fat-burning methods. They will work.
If you need bodyweight workouts that you can start at your own level, check out the Free download below (it has beginner, intermediate and advanced levels):
Get your FREE DOWNLOAD, "Fat Burning Foods, Spices and Meals," and start eating better, burning fat, losing weight and building the lean body you want and need!
Mark Dilworth, BA, PES