How to Bust Through Weight Loss Plateaus

01.17.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

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By Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer, Gold's Gym

The frustrating reality is that even well planned weight loss efforts can become stalled and being stuck at a certain weight can happen to anyone. Weight loss plateaus occur when you no longer lose weight despite continuing to exercise and eating healthy. Before you get too discouraged, you should know that it’s normal for weight loss to slow and even stall. At this point, you need to ask yourself if you’re satisfied with your current weight or if you want to lose more, in which case you’ll need to adjust your weight loss program.

Below are some tips to break through those weight loss plateaus!

Reassess Your Habits

Look back at food and exercise journals (because you are doing that, right?) and make sure you haven’t eased up on your standards, letting yourself get by with larger portions or are exercising less. You may need to go back to measuring your food. Take a look at your weekly schedule and see where you can fit in one more workout.

Rev Up Your Workout

When trying to drop those last few pounds, it is often an issue of intensity that is causing your weight loss plateau. Exercising a little harder can give you that extra boost. It seems that the best stimulus for breaking through plateaus is to make the muscles work harder, so high intensity training might be the edge you need. Additional exercise intensity will cause you to burn more calories. Also, increasing the amount of time you workout by an additional 15-30 minutes can help.

Pack More Activity Into Your Day

Think outside the gym. Increase your general physical activity throughout the day by walking more, taking the stairs, parking further away at the mall, pace while talking on the phone. These little changes can add up.

Change Your Exercise Routine

The way you exercise can play a vital role in how you burn fat. Doing the same routine for too long allows your body to adapt and work efficiently. The human body is an amazing piece of machinery, capable of adapting to just about any circumstance or stimulus. By shaking things up a bit and varying your program by introducing new elements, you’ll likely find yourself off the plateau and back on the road to progress. If you have been doing the same routine for 4-6 weeks, it’s time for a change. You can change the exercises, increase reps and/or sets, or change how many days a week you workout.


Just like not eating enough can lower the amount of calories you burn, so can overtraining. When you increase your exercise intensity, your body responds by decreasing the amount of calories you burn during the rest of the day. Take time to recover. Listen to your body. If your heart rate remains elevated after a night’s rest, if your legs feel heavy and your motivation fades, you may need to rest. After you’ve rested, get back to exercise but lighten up your original routine and increase your intensity only as necessary.

I hope these tips help those of you who may be stuck at a weight loss plateau! Remember it is only temporary. Don’t get discouraged because there is a solution. I’ve only discussed plateaus from an exercise point of view. There are many way to attack a plateau from the nutrition side. That would be a good question for our nutrition blogger and Redskin team nutritionist, Jane Jakubczak.

As Always,
Be fit and Healthy,

Do you have your own way you've overcome a weight loss plateau? Leave it in the comments section below!

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