7 Causes For Exercise or Weight Loss Plateau (& 5 Fixes)


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So that you’ve hit a exercise or weight reduction plateau the dimensions of a…effectively, an precise plateau, eh?

Haven’t any worry, our step-by-step information will get you again on observe! (Plus, essentially the most badass Bruce Lee quote you’ll ever learn).

Whether or not you’ve stalled in your weight reduction journey, power coaching, or another health benchmark, as we speak we’ll let you know precisely the best way to maintain progressing by sharing with you the precise instruments we use with our teaching shoppers.

Don’t lose morale. Collectively we bought this!

We’ll cowl:

Alright, let’s do that factor.

What’s a Plateau?

A picture of a LEGO Spider-man, who is interested in weight loss.

A plateau happens while you stall out on progress regardless of persevering with to do “all the proper issues,” normally together with:

And so forth.

Our our bodies go from shedding pounds persistently to getting caught at a sure quantity.

Or we go from constructing muscle and getting stronger, to having per week or two the place we are able to’t appear to carry something heavier.

We name this level in our coaching “The Plateau,” and we don’t like being caught on them.

A man hitting his head over and over.

As we discovered in a earlier article on happiness, people (nerds particularly) are happier once we make progress.

Once we work laborious for one thing and don’t see progress, we get sad.

How Do I Know If I’ve Hit a Plateau?

How do you bust through a plateau?

I get a number of emails from individuals who inform me they’re caught on a plateau.

They discuss how they’ve been consuming proper, exercising, and getting sufficient relaxation they usually can’t appear to make progress!

They throw their arms within the air, freak out, get discouraged, and quit or rapidly transfer on to the following plan that they hope will work.

When any individual involves me saying they’ve plateaued, my first response is at all times:

Are you really on a plateau?

“Have you ever REALLLLLLLLY plateaued? REALLY?”

In a powerful majority of the circumstances, plateaus are actually simply points with focus, monitoring, and self-discipline in disguise. Earlier than you assume you have plateaued, take into account the next:

1) HOW IS YOUR NUTRITION…REALLY? Oftentimes we expect we’re being diligent, till we notice that after a number of weeks of consuming nice we’ve began slacking. “Oh I’ve been good, simply this one time…” and “Hmmm, positive why not” change into extra commonplace as we begin to fall again into outdated habits. Monitor your energy for the following week and test your numbers.

And even if you’re consuming the suitable quantities of meals, there’s this: as you drop some pounds, your metabolism slows down. This isn’t sabotaging black magic, it’s science.

There’s merely LESS of you that your physique wants to keep up.

A gif of Beaker shrinking, who will for sure need fewer calories now.

Right here is the estimated each day resting calorie burn (“sit in your ass all day”) of a 35-year outdated male nerd at 3 very completely different weights:

  • 300 lbs: 2,600 energy.
  • 250 lbs: 2,300 energy.
  • 200 lbs: 2,000 energy.

You may need hit a plateau merely since you’ve reached an equilibrium of energy consumed to energy burned! This implies you could modify your calorie consumption to proceed shedding pounds.

In case you are making an attempt to bulk up, are you consuming ENOUGH energy to advertise muscle progress? Rededicate your self for 2 weeks, observe your meals, and see if progress picks again up!

2) HOW ARE YOUR WORKOUTS…REALLY? In case you are weeks or months right into a exercise plan, I wager the preliminary luster of “NEW! PROGRESS! WINNING!” has worn off.

Have you ever been skipping that final rep, chopping out an train right here or there, or losing interest and desirous to go dwelling?

I do know once I hit a plateau on the fitness center, it’s typically as a result of I haven’t been pushing myself as laborious as I had been beforehand. Monitor your exercises diligently for 2 weeks and see if these modifications kick you again on observe.

If you happen to want a device to trace your exercises, take a look at Nerd Health Journey. It’s designed so while you get up within the morning, you already know the precise subsequent step that can assist you attain your targets.

You’ll be able to strive it totally free proper right here:

3) HOW iS YOUR SLEEP?…REALLY? That is one which most individuals skip out on. They’re exercising, consuming proper, however for no matter purpose, they’ve been slacking on their sleep.

It’s is perhaps an excessive amount of tv…

Netflix can turn you into this.

Everyone knows sleep is essential – lack of sleep results in elevated ranges of stress, much less time for our our bodies to rebuild muscle, to recuperate from strenuous exercise, and extra.

I do know that if I didn’t get a very good night time’s sleep, then my efficiency within the fitness center the following day will endure.

Are you able to actually say you’ve spent two weeks with high quality sleep, vitamin, and train?

In lots of circumstances, we expect we’re caught, and in want of some type of drastic change or adjustment to kickstart progress once more. Now, there are positively cases the place we ARE caught or stalled, and that’s when issues want to vary.

Nonetheless, earlier than we cowl the dreaded plateau, let’s get a number of issues clear.

Why Am I Plateauing?

This lego wants to know how to overcome a plateau.

To begin, linear progress can’t proceed indefinitely: 

  1. In case you are studying to squat and also you begin with simply the bar, including 5 lbs per week (which is how you must be taught to squat!), you’ll ultimately attain some extent the place your physique can’t construct the power/muscle quick sufficient to repeatedly add 5 lbs per week. If it DID work that manner, in three years all people can be squatting 1,000 kilos.
  2. You’ll run into the identical points with weight reduction. For instance, it’s simpler so that you can lose 3 kilos per week when you’re at 300 lbs than it’s to lose 3 kilos per week when you’re 150 kilos….there’s extra of you to “lose” while you’re larger and thus progress shall be simpler. If you happen to may lose 2-3 kilos per week each week eternally, in some unspecified time in the future you’d disappear, and we don’t need that. Weight reduction may sluggish to 1 pound each different week.
  3. Your margin for error will get smaller. If you find yourself at a better physique fats proportion, or simply getting beginning with coaching, you may make a number of progress rapidly as a consequence of there being MORE of you to lose, or MORE good points to make rapidly. As you begin to make progress, you’ll be able to’t maintain making large progress with out making an increasing number of effort.
  4. Adaptive thermogensis. Our our bodies WANT to keep up the additional physique fats we have now (“I don’t know once I’ll want this, higher save”), and are actively working in unison to protect it – so even after a number of kilos, it’s going to be a persistent problem to maintain progressing. It’s a topic a dive in deep within the article “Why can’t I drop some pounds?” If you happen to’ve stalled in your weight reduction journey, this is perhaps the issue, as your physique is adapting to the physique fats being misplaced.

Your progress at a constant tempo will positively decelerate, which may FEEL like a plateau. 

If you happen to’ve been coaching for various months, you may have to barely modify your expectations. Possibly this week you’ll be able to solely add 2.5 lbs to the bar. Or 1lb. Possibly your muscle-building will crawl to 1 lb gained a month.

It occurs to all of us. Even Batman.

Batman giving you the thumbs up.

Now, in case your progress stalls out COMPLETELY otherwise you really regress, AND you’re doing all the proper issues, then congrats!

You MAY have plateaued.

Like in video games like World of Warcraft, in some unspecified time in the future you’ll cease gaining expertise from killing rats – you could possibly spend all day doing so however since you’ve hit a sure degree they now not give you worth.

It’s time to maneuver on to attacking spiders, then orcs, then dragons.

It’s one thing Coach Jim brings up on this video on progressive overload:

Whenever you began out, simply doing 5 push-ups may need felt like a full exercise. Now you are able to do 50 push-ups for a warm-up and never break a sweat.

Our our bodies are consistently adapting and studying to handle the stresses we placed on it, in search of the trail of least resistance.

Again to our gaming analogy:

If it’s one thing value doing, there’ll almost definitely be grinding concerned, and that’s why I would like to speak to you about The Dip.

No not a power coaching kind of ‘dip’, although these are good to assist bust via a plateau too!

You’ll be able to be taught extra about how we assist construct plateau-less exercises at Nerd Health by downloading our free Power Coaching 101 eBook while you enroll within the field under:

Is a Plateau Regular? (The Dip)

A LEGO going very fast on their mountain bike.

I wish to introduce you to Seth Godin, creator of The Dip.

All of us hit plateaus in our lives and quests for well being and happiness. As a way to achieve success on the activity at hand, we have to grind our manner via that low level (or flat level) till we are able to climb out and proceed progress.

Right here’s a visualization of the dip:

A picture of "The Dip"

Whenever you first begin one thing new, you may make fast progress, and every little thing rocks since you see large modifications.

Nonetheless, after a number of months, the reward you get out of your effort decreases and it looks as if you’re quickly slowing down:

  1. Within the first few weeks of weight reduction, every little thing is GREAT! The dimensions is shifting, your garments are getting looser, progress is thrilling as a result of it’s coming so rapidly. Then, you may need a number of weeks the place you’re actually making an attempt laborious and but…the dimensions stalls or will increase.
  2. When constructing a brand new working behavior, every new run is exhilarating – you quickly progress from wheezing and coughing after two blocks to now having the ability to run an entire mile! A couple of months later, that progress slows, and you end up fighting the identical distances and speeds although you’re doing all the proper issues.
  3. When lifting weights, the primary few months might be life-changing. Squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups. Each session within the fitness center is a chance to see large progress in comparison with the time earlier than, apart from that week or two while you stroll in and it’s important to carry lower than earlier than! What offers!?

Once we hit that dip/plateau the place our laborious work looks as if it goes unrewarded, it’s simple to surrender and say, “I’m a failure.”

Not true.

We’ll all expertise a dip in terms of progress on issues which might be essential to us.

If we wish to TRULY achieve success, we have to anticipate the dip’s arrival and plan for it in order that it doesn’t fully derail us.

Very similar to grinding out expertise factors in an RPG, typically we have to grind out apply in life, exercises, vitamin, and extra…till we are able to hit that candy spot for progress once more.

So, how will we keep devoted, centered, and motivated via the dip?

How will we progress throughout the plateau once we really feel like our laborious work is a waste of time?

We concentrate on small wins, and discover a method to get a teeny tiny bit higher.

What Ought to I Do Once I Hit a Plateau? (Setting Private Data)

Success is setting a personal record.

To ensure that us to crawl out of a dip or off a plateau, we have to discover a method to make a small win daily.

Consider these small wins like “a light-weight to you in darkish locations, when all different lights exit.”

The longer we’ve been coaching, the older we get, and/or the extra superior we get in our coaching, the extra doubtless we’ll be to hit plateaus and the extra crucial it will likely be to grind out small victories, put together for dips, and energy via them.

Right here’s how one can grind out your individual small wins and show to your self that you’re nonetheless progressing when you’re within the dip:

1) TRACK EVERY SET, REP, AND WORKOUT. Discover a method to be higher as we speak in SOME WAY than you had been yesterday, and show to your self that you’re nonetheless making progress – even when it’s progress another way than you had been progressing earlier than.

In case you are caught at 3 units of 5 reps of 150 kilos on the bench press and haven’t been in a position to go as much as 155 lbs for a number of weeks, strive 3 units of 6 reps of 150 kilos.

Or 4 units of 5 reps of 150 kilos.

Then come again to three units of 5 reps of 155 a number of weeks from now, and see if you are able to do that.

If you happen to wait 60 seconds between units, strive ready 90 seconds as an alternative and carry a special quantity

So long as SOMETHING has progressed not directly – your whole quantity of weight lifted, decreased time between units, one additional rep, or yet another pound lifted – it proves to your self that you just made progress. Keep in mind, progress makes us comfortable.


2) COLLECT TINY WINS. Optimus Prime doesn’t remodel with one single motion; it’s a mix of a whole lot of hundreds of tiny actions that occur quickly.

We’re transformers (Joe particularly), and our small modifications add up too.

It’s these tiny, small victories that may push us over the sting. Sufficient small victories and we are able to attain that tipping level, that finish of the dip the place progress continues once more.

Discover a method to set a tiny win in SOME WAY every day that exhibits you that you’re getting higher/sooner/stronger.

Right here’s an instance: I’ve been engaged on handstand balancing. For the previous few months, my progress has stagnated and even gone in reverse on some days (helloooo Dip!).

I continued to work on constructing the behavior of handstands for 5 minutes a day (Exhausting Hat problem for the win!). Progress felt nonexistent, however I knew that my continued devoted apply was including up in ways in which didn’t make themselves readily obvious.

I had “stalled,” so I centered on getting tiny wins: rising flexibility in my wrists, staying towards the wall so long as I may, practising my kick-ups, tightening my core, and so on.

Regardless of not having the ability to stability for longer than 10 seconds at any level prior to now, I kicked up right into a handstand, with out even touching the wall (one thing else that had by no means occurred earlier than), and I held my handstand for twenty-four seconds!

Rebel Leader Steve showing you how to kick up to a handstand.

I nonetheless have a methods to go earlier than I’m holding completely vertical handstands for 60+ seconds, however months spent grinding out apply within the dip have paid off.

I made it via the plateau, and my progress has continued quickly after struggling for months. These months of battle had been teeny tiny wins in numerous ways in which added up till I hit that tipping level the place progress exploded.

3) TRACK OTHER METRICS OTHER THAN THE SCALE. The scale can lie. The dimensions will DEFINITELY decelerate even if you’re making progress in more healthy methods, merely as a consequence of the truth that you may have much less weight to lose than you probably did earlier than! You may also be coping with additional water weight, or bloat, or menstruation, or something in between.

So, observe different issues! Right here’s what you’ll be able to observe to assist maintain you motivated whereas plateauing:

  1. Take biweekly images. Who cares if the dimensions isn’t shifting. Are you wanting higher? Are you FEELING higher? Do your garments match higher? That’s progress.
  2. Take measurements. Spend 5 bucks on a fabric tape measure (or one in all these), and measure the essential components of your physique. Possibly the dimensions isn’t shifting, however you took half an inch off of your waist. Or perhaps you added 1 / 4 of an inch to your arms.
  3. Monitor your physique fats proportion. A easy caliper is sufficient to present developments. Keep in mind Saint? His weight went UP however his physique fats proportion dropped. Had he solely been monitoring the dimensions, he may need panicked throughout his ‘dip.’ Thankfully, he was monitoring extra metrics and used that momentum to catapult himself to victory.

The aim is to persistently show to ourselves that we’re shifting one step nearer to our aim. 

That is precisely the system we used once we constructed Nerd Health Journey.

Whenever you’re working via the app, not solely are you doing enjoyable missions, however you’ll see how duties construct as much as your bigger aim. There’s no getting caught or pissed off, simply log in and work on the following journey.

If you would like, you’ll be able to sign-up for a free trial proper right here:

5 Suggestions and Methods for Overcoming a Plateau

These heroes don't worry about plateaus.

The above is just the start. This may even assist you make progress and get out of that dip:

1) Shock your exercise. Our our bodies crave effectivity, and like to be as lazy as doable, however we really thrive on chaos. So introduce some chaos into your system!

Notice: That is NOT the identical as “muscle confusion” (which is a made-up advertising and marketing time period to promote DVDs). We’re nonetheless progressing, lifting extra, and doing the identical workouts – we’re simply throwing in some variation often to assist stimulate progress. 

If you happen to do the very same factor again and again and over, your physique turns into extra environment friendly at that exercise.

The truth is, your physique can be taught and adapt after doing the identical factor sufficient occasions in order that it burns fewer energy to hold out the method. So combine it up!

  • In case you are making an attempt to run a sooner 5K? Combine in a day of sprints moderately than simply fundamental runs.
  • Attempting to extend your deadlift? Somewhat than simply doing a 1-rep max, do a day of upper quantity, or practice the deadlift twice per week.
  • Wish to squat higher? Squat with larger frequency. NF Senior Coach Staci adopted a sophisticated Smolov Squat program for 13 weeks (Warning: not for rookies). Your physique can adapt and overcompensate by getting stronger.
  • Wish to enhance your higher physique power/dimension? Strive doing a PLP program alongside together with your common exercises. Beginning with 10 whole reps of Pull-ups, Lunges, and Push-ups, and daily add a rep, for 50 days.

2) Regulate your weight loss program. Your physique also can change into fairly environment friendly with energy (to not point out the oft-mentioned however controversial “hunger mode” idea), and may typically battle to progress.

As we lay out in “Why can’t I drop some pounds?,” for those who’ve misplaced a good quantity of weight, your physique now burns considerably fewer energy every day (there’s much less of you to handle!) This implies you could modify your calorie consumption!

So, I’d begin by monitoring your consumption and figuring out what number of energy you ought to be consuming.

ONLY after that doesn’t work would I like to recommend the next:

Take into account throwing in someday per week of OVER consuming, together with days the place you’re intermittent fasting. Preserve your physique guessing and see if that shocks your system again into weight reduction mode.

Take into account adjusting your macronutrient breakdown. Preserve your protein consumption excessive, and modify your carbs and fat. Some folks really feel higher or worse with excessive fats or low fats, excessive carb or low carb.

And keep in mind, thermodynamics nonetheless rule all: weight reduction requires caloric deficits.

3) REST! I’ve heard it mentioned “there’s no such factor as “overtraining, simply under-recovering.” Are you getting sufficient sleep?

Maybe Cartmen here is jetlagged.

Possibly you’re a brand new mum or dad and making an attempt to keep up your outdated exercise routine on 2 hours of sleep an evening.

Or work has you burdened like loopy and it’s inflicting you to eat like crap.

Relaxation is such an essential a part of a wholesome way of life that it must be prioritized too. Within the e book Essentialism, that is known as “Defending the Asset.”

You are the asset.

In case you are making an attempt to do an excessive amount of, otherwise you’re caught in a plateau, take into account per week off, refocusing on sleep and restoration, and are available again refreshed.

4) Regulate your targets. Possibly your physique wants a new dragon to slay.

Once more, nature loves chaos. In case you are centered solely on weight reduction, you may really feel like you may have stalled out. So shift your focus. Work on handstands. Or working sooner.

Or doing all your first pull-up.

Here's a gif of a pull-up in perfect form.

Decide a brand new talent!

Strive one thing completely different. Give your physique an opportunity to recuperate after which come again to it.

If you happen to’re solely centered on the dimensions and it stalls out, it may be miserable. So put the dimensions away for a month, and as an alternative concentrate on the method of getting stronger and consuming higher. Cease stressing and keep in mind to benefit from the recreation you’re enjoying.

5) Settle for that we have now unhealthy weeks. We’re complicated items of equipment.

Generally shit occurs.

We simply have unhealthy weeks and may’t carry sufficient or we GAIN weight once we anticipated to drop some pounds. It doesn’t make you a nasty particular person, it doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you human.

So on days while you really feel nice, PUSH your self tougher. On days while you really feel like crap, reduce the heavy lifting and concentrate on extra reps or higher approach.

The biggest predictor of success in our lives is grit (which might be developed). Grit is what you could slog via these sluggish weeks. These dips are the place we discover out who’s really devoted. I do know you’re, and you already know you’re.

Keep in mind, search for any signal of progress in any method to reveal that “gentle” on the finish of the tunnel.

In case you are caught on a plateau in terms of power coaching, take into account working with one in all our Yodas within the 1-on-1 On-line Coaching Program at Nerd Health! No guilt, no disgrace. Simply any individual to maintain you accountable, skilled steerage from any individual that is aware of you, and peace of thoughts understanding you’re doing the suitable factor!

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How did you break via your plateau?

A picture of Bruce Lee

Right here’s that dope Bruce Much less quote I discussed earlier:

“If you happen to at all times put limits on every little thing you do, bodily or anything, it’s going to unfold into your work and into your life. There aren’t any limits. There are solely plateaus, and you need to not keep there. You have to transcend them.”

-Bruce Lee

Hopefully, I’ve coated every little thing you could find out about plateaus. What’s that? You had been anticipating some lame joke about plateaus someplace?

You understand me too effectively. Okay, how bout this one:

Do you know {that a} plateau is the best type of flattery?

Get it?

Thanks, I’ll be right here all week.

I wish to hear your story:

  • Have you ever efficiently busted via a plateau? Depart a remark with how you bought out of it.
  • Are you presently caught? In that case, what’s ONE SPECIFIC piece of recommendation you’re taking from as we speak’s article to use to what you’re going to do that afternoon?

Let’s hear it! I’m excited to listen to how I will help.


PS: We all know beginning with these things might be intimidating. If you happen to’re wanting  to take it to the following degree:

  • 1-on-1 On-line Teaching: A coach from Group NF will get to know you higher than you already know your self and builds a exercise program and dietary technique that matches your busy life, your physique kind, and your targets.
  • Nerd Health Journey: a enjoyable app that can present you the trail for overcoming any plateau. Join a free trial under:


Picture Sources: olegmit1 © 123RF.com, Nattapol Sritongcom © 123RF.com, seeveeaar: success, Stefan Baudy: query, clement127: Eurobasket 2015, 4 Bricks Tall: Mountain Biker, JD Hancock: Heroes, Anton Ivanov © 123RF.com


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