By: Tatiana Britton
If you’ve been a part of the health and fitness world, you’ve probably heard or thrown around the word “plateau”. Perhaps you’ve experienced plateaus yourself or know someone else who has. The word is used very often as plateaus in weight loss or muscle gain are expected. However, many times people aren’t truly experiencing a plateau; rather they are just becoming impatient with the process.
A plateau is a stagnant point when no fitness progress is occurring– commonly experienced as no weight loss or no muscle gain is occurring.
This stagnant point stays for several weeks (at least 3 weeks) and beyond. When weight loss is stagnant, but it has only been a few days or MAYBE two weeks… this is NOT a plateau! Many times people think because their progress has slowed or has hit a stale point for a few days, that they are better off just quitting or this is when they decide they have to switch up all of their routine.
Quitting or constantly changing your routine (I’m talking changing every other few days because you think what you’re doing isn’t working) actually hinders progress! Of course quitting will never get anyone to where they desire to be and too much of a change too frequently never allows the body progressive overload and/or adaptation.
So, what is the appropriate response for fighting a plateau?
In a simpler answer, before diving into more specifics, sticking to the basics will take you far. You don’t need to jump into a million other diet trends nor do you need to try crazy exercises. You do need to go over a few biomarkers that can help jump start your journey.
1. Dial in your sleep.
Quantity and quality are both important. 7-9 hours of sleep is ideal for most adults and there are a few things you can do to ensure your quality is good, too. Set your room temperature at___, black out as much light as possible and avoid electronics 30-60 minutes before bed.
2. Get real with your nutrition. Is it really as good and consistent as you say it is?
Do you have any idea how many calories you’re consuming? How about your macros? Logging your food isn’t NECESSARY for results, but it can create a lot of awareness and accountability around your food choices. Plus, if you cannot walk someone through your entire day of eating, likelihood is you aren’t putting my thought into your food choices.
3. Your caloric expenditure matters, outside of the gym!
If you’re being mindful of your caloric intake (how much food you’re eating) it’s also important to be aware of your caloric expenditure. An hour inside the gym, even 5-7 days a week isn’t enough. If that is the only movement you are experiencing you are not moving enough! A great place to start is 10,000 steps a day or mindfulness around moving for 10 minutes every hour.
These are only a few of the basic factors that you can focus on adjusting. Although these seem small, they can make ALL of the difference. Many times it’s not HUGE and DRASTIC changes that are needed. Small factors do add up! Focus on nailing these down, then programming changes and larger changes may be needed to break down future plateaus.