Break the plateau: Fitness tips to lose those last few pounds

Your diet is clean. You make it to the gym five days a week. But you can't seem to get those last few pounds off.

There is nothing worse than hitting a plateau, but there are ways to break it, and here's a hint: you'll probably have to work a little harder!

It's something Empower Fitness Lab Co-Owner Hakeem Akbar hears often.
"When people come in and say they've reached a plateau, that tells me they've gotten monotonous in their workout, doing the same thing over and over again," explains Akbar.

Akbar says we need to test our bodies.

"Think of it like a challenge. You take a tough test, you get smarter. So, here, we need to challenge your body to make sure you keep getting those improvements," he says.

First, he recommends changing your rep count.

"You might have your reps one week at 10, then 11 the next week, then the next week at 12, so your body is getting confused because you're not doing the same thing every week," he explains.

Next, switch up your rest intervals.
"If I'm a power lifter, and my goal is to lift heavy, heavy weight, then I'm going to take long breaks so my energy levels can recover to give me the power to go through. But, let's say I want to lean up, then my breaks will be a little shorter, so my body has to use another source of energy, which is body fat and stored energy," says Akbar.

For people who work out regularly, cut your rest breaks down to 15 to 30 seconds. For newer exercisers, start with 45 to 60 second breaks, and decrease them when you're ready.

"A lot of times we do things in a sagittal plane. Right in front of you, extensions in that plane. Well, your body gets used to doing exercises in that plane, so multi-plane is a rotation. So, if you normally do a bicep curl here, do a lateral step with a bicep curl," shows Akbar.

Also add unilateral movements into your workout. That's when you work one arm or leg at a time. It's harder because you can't use momentum!

Finally, Akbar says when your body hits a plateau, remember, "It's like a relationship. You've got to work on it. You can't do the same thing all the time."

The last important part of breaking that results slump is resting. Akbar recommends working out two days and then taking one day off. Our body and muscles need to recover in order to break down and see results.

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