So, I had a friend of mine ask me for some advice. This friend was training regularly and trying to lose some weight but his efforts had stalled somewhat and he asked me what he could do to carry on losing the weight. Now, This is a common issue amongst a lot of people. you may have yourself experienced hitting a plateau which you just couldn't break through.
The typical answer an average trainer gives their client at this point is to up their cardio and decrease their calories but screw that, I am not your average trainer 😉
And the answer to this question needs consideration that is different from individual to individual but let's take a look at a few points that may help you break through your training and fitness plateaus.
The General Adaptation Syndrome
The general adaptation syndrome was devised to discuss how humans adapt to stress placed upon them both mental and emotional stress and physical stress. Let's look at the physical element because this is what we're addressing here. When you start an exercise program that is new to what you're used to doing, your body goes into an initial alarm stage where your performance actually drops. This is why when you first start exercising, you may feel weak initially or sick. It's your body literally saying, "what the hell man!". Given an adequate amount of rest, reintroducing that stress again will force the body to adapt to the stress by saying, "Okay, I've had enough of this crap, I am going to get better and stronger". The body literally adapts to the stimulus which then means you hit a plateau phase. If the stimulus isn't changed in time, the body just doesn't change because it has no real stress to adapt to and to combat this, a new stress, be it a new exercise or weight or intensity or even training system needs to be applied at the right time. This may be one reason why our friend stopped making progress.
Biological set points
Experts have suggested that we have an ideal weight. Initially this was thought to be a genetically set in stone however, further research and theorizing has lead to the thought that we have set points but they're not set in stone and through our habits and environment, we can change these set points and they can adapt. Sometimes when you have hit a plateau, you have just found this set point and your body will try to conserve this set point. This is what's known in biology as homeostasis, which as you may know from secondary school (or high school) science, is nature's mechanism to maintain equilibrium or a status quo. What can be done with hitting a set point? Again, a new, often drastic, stimulus needs to be implemented to literally shock your body into changing. This may be a totally new training regime or dietary approach.
You may just need more time
My friend told me that most of the fat he had was around his lower belly that he couldn't shift. The truth is, depending on our gender and body style, we have pockets of stubborn fat on our bodies that are harder to shift than other areas. For men this is usually on the lower belly and love handles whilst women find it harder usually to lose that last bit of weight around their thighs and butt. Without going into too much detail, one of the reasons for this is because of receptors we have in these areas. Receptors basically work along side with hormones and in areas of stubborn fat we have more A2 (Alpha 2) receptors compared to A1 (Alpha 1) Receptors. A1 receptors promote fat breakdown whilst A2 inhibit the fat breakdown hence why we call this stubborn fat. One tactic to combat this is intake of caffeine. Caffeine has an effect on the central nervous system and on hormones that allow you to delay fatigue and enhance concentration and to keep things basic, one of the effects is to ask the body to release free fatty acids and decrease A2 activity. Of course, this doesn't mean drink copious amounts of coffee but it does go to show that caffeine in moderate quantities can help with stubborn fat (put it this way, have you noticed how ALL fat burners have caffeine in it in some form or another?) – As a result, Stubborn fat just needs more time to burn but with the right dietary and training interventions, you can speed this process up
You may just be kidding yourself
Has your progress really halted or have you subconsciously made bad habits? Allowed yourself to eat too much of the wrong types of foods or decrease the accelerator on your training? You may need to keep a training and diet diary/journal and if you're honest with yourself when you fill these in, you can check to see if it really is a plateau you're experiencing or if it's something a bit more sinister which a bit of personal responsibility can help.
Those are just a few ideas but it does help to get more specific and of course, there's no one size fits all answer. Therefore, If you would like to discuss your training goals and strategies to reach them, please contact me!
looking forward to hearing from you!
Your fitness expert