Recently a friend hit me up asking why his progress had halted. He was consistently losing body fat for weeks and weeks, but he had plateaued. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for people after they’ve started a fitness program or lifestyle change. For whatever reason after some time they stop making progress toward their goals.
In order to get a full picture, I asked my friend a few questions: What are you eating? When are you eating? What are your workouts? How often are you working out? Do you feel fatigued after your workouts? How is your sleep? To get the right answers you gotta ask the right questions, people.
It turned out that although my friend’s daily diet was very clean with solid amounts of healthy fats, healthy animal protein sources, and a wide variety of organic veggies, they were not feeling truly fatigued post-workout, nor was there any true strength training.
Feeling fatigued post-workout is a necessity because it means you’ve most likely activated the hormones, cortisol and hormone sensitive lipase, to immediately burn body fat and you’ve probably kicked your metabolism into high gear to continue burning body fat post-workout.
Strength training is important because it builds muscle, and muscle is extremely metabolic active. In fact, you burn on average 30 calories more for every pound of muscle you have over an equivalent pound of fat. This means that your body requires a lot of energy to build muscle, and it requires a lot of energy to maintain muscle. When your body is building and maintaining muscle it is in a state of recovery, which is low intensity, and inherently burns body fat.
To remedy these two issues my friend had--not feeling fatigued post workout and not doing any strength training--I made one key recommendation: do high intensity strength training. This would solve both problems by making sure they were fatigued post-workout and making sure they were building muscle also. The added plus was that it wouldn’t require any additional hours in the gym. In fact, the specific high intensity strength training I recommended was less than 15 minutes per week.
So if you’ve been eating clean and working out hard but have stopped dropping body fat, take a look at what else is going on. It may be your sleep, it may be your workout frequency, or it may be the program you’re doing. Sometimes you need to LIFT OFF to reach your goals.