Tackling a Weight Loss Plateau With Exercise
As you start to get your nutrition and exercise right, your body will become more efficient and therefore you will need to change something to keep the calorie deficit occurring on a daily basis.
As you reach a good level of endurance fitness, the amount of calories you burn when say running or rowing, will essentially be far less then when you first started. As we improve, we develop an energy saving technique, which is great for our running or rowing performance but not so great in terms of burning calories.
So, just keep your nutrition healthy and consistent and try one or more of the following suggestions to kick start your fat-burning potential!
1) Weight training - The most successful way to achieve long-term weight loss/control is to increase the lean muscle tissue on our bodies and this is achieved through weight training. Whether you do a program in the gym or at home, use bodyweight, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells or machines, it doesn't matter, as long as you fatigue the muscles so they respond and strengthen.
The toning effect you achieve is great but more importantly, muscle tissue is alive and requires energy (calories!) 24/7 just to be on our body. It is because of this demand that muscle tissue increases the amount of calories you burn every minute, making it much easier to achieve a calorie deficit and subsequent body fat loss! So get yourself a resistance program, you could look to do a 30-minute workout at home prior to a run or alternate weight training days and running days.
2) Variety - With the way you train. Quite simply, make your body do things it's not accustomed to and it has to work hard and use lots of calories. Vary the type of exercise you do, exercise DVD's, classes, cardiovascular, weight training, circuit training combinations etc. If you give your body the same type of training you will only achieve the same result and the training becomes less effective, so spice things up!
3) Physical activity - Capitalise on the small things. Often we think the weight loss is achieved through exercise and nutrition and often we overlook what we actually do with our bodies for the entirety of a given day. Look at your daily routines and see what tiny changes you could make that would easily allow you to burn more calories through general activities. i.e. park further away from work/gym (why do people always try to park outside the door of a health club?!), cycle or walk to work if possible. Try an evening stroll after dinner 1-2 times a week if you don't already. Pump up the volume on your favourite music while you do the dishes, housework etc and get dancing; take the stars instead of a lift/escalator. These small things really DO make the difference because generally people's lifestyles don't encourage a lot of movement and we spend too great a time in a car, at a desk or on a couch.
4) Train more - If you train 3 times a week then consider 4 sessions. Whatever frequency of sessions you do a week, consider upping it, even by a mini session, a 30 min express workout!
5) Intensity - If you are enjoying your running or rowing, you could vary the intensities of your training sessions as this too will force the body to work harder and kick start your fat-burning potential.
You could work at an intensity of 70-90% (or 8-9 out of 10 on a scale of your personal effort) for a lesser time 15-35 mins (you simply won't be able to train for as long at this intensity). The higher the intensity, the more calories that are burned in the session and the longer the metabolic rate remains elevated therefore using up more fat cells! Even though your duration is shorter you can still burn as many calories and actually burn more body fat in the following days.
6) Interval training - Alternatively, you could combine the above with a comfortable pace in a technique called interval training. Research suggests that females achieve the best cardiovascular improvements and body fat reduction through interval training. An simple example of this for running would be:
In basic terms, you alternate between two different work rates which allows you to achieve calorie burning through intensity AND calorie burning through duration because the lower work rate allows you to partially recover and so train for longer.
Ideally try to incorporate all of the above into your exercise plan and you are absolutely going to be maximising your fat burning potential. It will allow you to get more consistency and continue with your great fat-loss success!