It just doesn’t make sense. You’ve been doing the same workout that helped you lose the first 15 pounds, but now the scale refuse to budge. The problem with this common scenario might surprise you. You might think hitting a plateau means your body’s getting less efficient at burning calories, when, in fact, it’s getting too efficient!
When we challenge our bodies with a new workout at the fitness center, we tend to burn a lot of calories. As we continue to do the same workout or lift the same weights in the same way, our body adapts to the challenge and becomes more efficient at burning fuel in the process. The key, then, is to keep challenging yourself in slightly different ways.
Although this might mean working out harder, it definitely means workout out smarter so you can outsmart your body’s efficiency system and continue to get leaner. Here are four tips for how to do that in your daily fitness gym workouts.
Tip #1: Up the Intensity
Slow, methodical cardio workouts don’t burn as many calories as fast bursts of exertion. If you can’t sustain high-intensity for very long, it’s okay – that’s the point of interval training! Try to work speed bursts and higher intensity intervals into your cardio training and faster, combination movements into your weight training to increase your heart rate and burn more calories. You don’t have to work out like this all the time – adding just a few high-intensity sets into your program can make an impact on that plateau!
Tip #2: Vary the Order of Your Workout or Change Up Your Route
Even the order in which we do things can become predictable enough to our muscles that we become more efficient and burn fewer calories. Try switching up your routine. For instance, don’t always do squats first or run 3 miles in the same direction around the block.
Tip #3: Up the Resistance and Try New Moves
When you get used to lifting a certain weight, you’ll notice your muscles aren’t as sore the day after. It may feel great to get past DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), but this is one sign your body might be getting a little too efficient and your results may start to plateau.
The most obvious solution when it comes to weights and resistance tools is to increase the weight load or resistance level you use. At some point, however, you’re going to reach a limit, and that’s where the second strategy can be helpful – choosing different workout moves.
There’s more than one way to work your triceps, abdominals or pecs. Finding new or different ways to work the same muscle groups – even slight variations – will recruit different sets of supporting muscles and burn more calories as you challenge your body in new ways. Watch what other fit people at the gym are doing, talk to the staff, or watch YouTube fitness channels for some inspiration.
Tip #4: Move More the Rest of the Day
A strange thing tends to happen after a hard workout day: we tend to be lazy the rest of it. A study from 2013 showed this was especially the case among older adults. Sure, you’re burning more calories all at once, but are you still walking around and staying active when you leave the gym? If you’re not mindful of this, you might be surprised to find that your calorie burn or total steps on hard workout days dips below your rest days!
Wearing an activity tracker is a great way to keep track of your activity all day long and remind yourself to get up off the couch or step away from the desk and move around.
There are many reasons and ways we can plateau, but these tips can help you continue to challenge your body in ways that lead to results.