I get a lot of emails each day. I can often give you some feedback and even point you to a specific article on the topic you need. While I have quite extensive library of knowledge here in teamRIPPED, sometimes there are topics that come up that I don’t have a specific article on… yet. :-)
The topic I’ll be hitting today is plateaus. I have mentioned plateaus in many other articles, but never have I addressed it directly. So let’s get to it!
A good basic definition of a plateau is an extended period of stagnant weight loss or body composition. The scale isn’t moving and the calipers keep measuring the same body fat percentage.
WARNING – Don’t be offended if you email me about plateaus, or post a comment about plateaus, and I ask you questions like:
If you aren’t watching your diet very closely and taking these steps, I doubt you are actually plateauing. Your weight loss may have plateaued, but it is actually because you are overeating. How could you ever know how many calories you are eating if you aren’t tracking? You don’t know if you are going way over on carbs or sugar… you don’t know if your deficit is shot! Clean eating is not enough, exercise is not enough, you can out-eat your exercise even with a clean diet if you aren’t tracking it.
If you have been consistent with your deficit and hitting your protein, carbohydrate, and fat budgets, it might be time to consider what you can change to break through the plateau. As you lose weight, your metabolism will change and your caloric needs will change. Obviously you are getting smaller, so you need fewer calories. If you had needed 2000 calories to be at a 1000 calories deficit on day 1, you may need to be below 2000 if you’ve already lost 20 pounds and want to keep the pace up. Realize too that your metabolism will slow down, so be okay with the slower fat loss or drop a couple hundred calories to encourage more fat lose.
Another option worth looking at is a zig-zag diet. I have written pretty extensively on it HERE. The main idea is to switch from low calorie days with a high calorie day. If you are still working at losing fat, you want your low days to outnumber your high days (3 low, then 1 high). Then your overall weekly caloric intake will still be at a deficit.
The other common type of plateau is in your strength numbers. It should go without saying, but you only will know if this is happening if you writing everything down! Tony’s reminded you of that enough.
If your numbers for push ups or pull ups have not increased for a couple weeks, it might be time to consider some techniques to help change that. The first and easiest is to finish you sets with assisted moves. For push ups, drop to your knees and add as many reps as you can after your regular push ups. For pull ups, get out your chair or Chin Up Max and close the set with some assisted pull ups. Both will act like a drop set and further fatigue your muscles, much more than a normal set. Try adding assisted reps for two weeks of workouts and see what happens to your numbers.
The other strategy is to load up the weight! This will actually drop your reps even more, but your strength will improve. Doing push ups and pull ups with a vest or weighted backpack will test you. An extra 20 lbs is a good place to start. Don’t worry if you can only get 8-10 reps, that is the point. As you increase in reps with the added weight, your normal body-weight reps will increase too. The same thing can be done with dumbbells too. If you are stuck at a weight for curls, go up 5lbs and squeeze out fewer reps. Maybe you will only get 5-6 the first week, but it will improve and you can take that strength back to your normal rep ranges with more weight.
Plateaus are hard to get a perfect grasp on, but stick with it. The most important thing is to be recording all the information you can. Then you can start making small adjustments and check to see their effects on your progress. Most plateaus happen when people lose focus and small things have been slipping without their knowledge. Keep your nutrition on point and we can always work from there.
I have hit a wall with the fat loss. My strength is increasing but I can't loose any more weight. I just spiked my calories to try and get it going again but I just see my weight spike up three pounds from that! I am able to do more with the workouts and just today I was able to do the crane in yoga x for about 20 seconds. This is my first recovery week so I will try to do doubles with p90x and eliptical machine cardio. I am at 1900 calories tracked with MFP 50,30,20. I also dropped my calories to 1800 this week to see if that will get it going.
Angelo, that is a good call. Stick with it though! Weight loss definitely comes in phases. If you are doing the work with exercise and nutrition, it will pay off.
Coach, I really havnt been noticing any weightloss to speak of. I have gone down about 3-5 lbs in over a month of the program. I am VERY strict to my diet, and have only gone off once on day30 to celebrate someone's birthday. I am running a 900-700 cal deficit, 50/30/20 split. The only improvement i have noticed is tighting up of muscle groups and slight strength increases. Other thing is I have been doing what you recommended in the video for pullups and STILL cannot do 1. I can get about halfway up and then i conk out. me: 6'3. 300lbs. Day 34 of P90x Classic
Lazarus, keep it up. Think about increasing your deficit more (-1000 to -1200). This is a journey. We never gained our weight overnight, and it won't be gone overnight too. No more cheat meals or days. That can easily set you back 2-3 days of progress. Trust the system, it works. Keep bringing it!
Alright, thanks coach! I'll do just that. Oh! And coach Wayne, I'm praying for your family as y'all welcome Sasha to become a part of your family. God bless, and take care!
Hey coach, I've got a question. It's not really about plateaus though. I was wondering, have you ever talked about rep ranges and how that affects growth and the types of results you got. I would like to know what kind of rep ranges were you using to see the kind of changes you did through each round of your transformation. The two sides of the coin as I see them are 1. High reps / lower weight (15-20) means I will get more of a cardio workout because there is less time between sets when following the DVDs, and a high weight / low rep (6-10) means I may get more rest, but will build more muscle to burn fat even when I'm not working out. I was just wondering which way you went with reps ranges throughout your many rounds. Thanks. Ryan
Hey Ryan, I always went low reps. I focused on going as heavy as I could. I even added weights in a backpack to make pull ups and pushups harder.
Hey coach, my hands have been taking a huge beating from P90X. Blistered, calloused, and bruised. What kind of gloves would you recommend for pullups, as well as for the resistance training? What kind of gloves do you use? Thanks Coach Wayne, and I know it's a bit off topic of the article. God bless!
Hey Grant, everyone seems to like a different style. I would recommend just heading to a sporting goods store and trying some out. I like the wrist wrap variety, but a lot of people like the smaller half gloves. Find ones that find well, not too loose. They really range in price too. They make a huge difference though!
Hi everybody. New here, I was reading through the comments and I came across some terms I dont understand. One of them is "maintenance", is it a diet plan when not working out? Thanks!
JJ, no it is the amount of calories you would need to maintain your current weight. If you are working out, that would have to include the calories you burn from your workouts.
Great post Wayne! Lots of food for thought in this article and in the comments. I've been dialing in my nutrition tightly for about 10 months now, but likely still have some tuning to do. Alot of my carbs are still coming from fruits - in a typical day I'll have strawberries, a banana, and either grapes or pineapple. Admittedly small portions, but I am going to try to exchange one out for more complex carbs. A work in progress. I'd like to encourage Christina to give Classic P90X a chance - the more muscle you build the more efficiently your body will burn up the fat - plus it is empowering to do real push-ups and pull-ups with good form:) I did alot (several months) of cardio with Shaun T, but I didn't get the real muscle definition and toned look I was going for. Strength exercises and weight lifting have made all the difference for me. So much so that I'm now looking forward to Body Beast. Just shipped today - and am gifting it to Frank for his birthday next week. He's seen great strength gains with P90X2 also, and is excited to try a more "classic" weight lifting program. Dare I call Body Beast Classic?? :) I'm sure it will deliver exactly what we're looking for. Planning on joining the facebook group for sure! I do have a question about Body Beast for females though - I am not looking to lose much in the way of body fat. I've been staying around 10% for the past 4 months, and find it to be a good place for me. I'm hovering around 135-40 at 5'8, and have been on 1700 cal/day at 50/35/15 for about 5 months. Can you suggest a change in my nutrition plan that will promote muscle growth/gains with minimal fat gains as I start Body Beast. This may be addressed in the Body Beast Guide - which I'm itching to get my hands on, but any advice would be greatly appreciated as always. Best wishes getting Xander settled in when he arrives, and getting back into the grove as the new school year starts!
Hey Kimberly, gains are addressed in the Book of Beast. The big thing with lean gain is they are actually smaller gains. When you are eating at the surplus out lined in the guide, fat gain will happen. The great thing is that the last phase is a deficit, cutting phase. The few guys that have hit it are saying the the fat they gained is dropping off so quickly. So that is great news. I would encourage you to look at LEAN Beast (one of the calendars) and play with your surplus. If the extra 20% seems too much, try 15%, then 10%. Beast it up!!! The ladies in the group will love to have you join!
Hey coach, how is everything ? And is Xander in America yet ? Are you still on body beast ? I had a quick question, I have an 8am class everyday (which is very rare), should I keep it that way or should I go tomy advisor and try to change some of my classes ? And why ?
Hey Khaled, I am doing well! So close to having Xander home too! Your schedule is up to you man. If you are not a morning person and know that you won't get to bed at the right time, switch it. Or if you want the regularity and to get classes out of the way early in the day, go for it.
im on the fat shredder 1700 calories im only 5'6 currently aiming for a 180 pound goal thinking i should stick to a 180 grams of protein intake, n by the way just check my scale only moved one pound for this week but my bodyfat came down im guessing i build a little muscle so im not on the weight lost plateau :)
I also am surprised about the amount of protein recommended. At 1900 calories, Phase I calls for 237 grams and Phase II 190 grams if I have the percentages right.
Yes that is right Brett. You want the high protein to do a couple things while cutting. It keeps you full and satisfied and most importantly keeps you full of amino acids to keep protein synthesis going. Without it, and still on a deficit, it would be hard to maintain your muscle mass.
great post CW currently dealing with a fast lost plateau maybe cause im over doing it with the protein consuming over 200 grams of it n im 191 pounds
Josh, couscous is healthy. Just make sure you have the budgets for it. If you prepare it with butter, make sure you have fat.
Thanks Coach! That article was exactly what I needed. I have been browsing many of your articles on your site but somehow missed that one. I'm going to dial back my calories and concentrate first on just reducing the body fat %. Is it still ok to shoot for the 8-10 rep range in the workouts with this goal? Also, I emailed you a spreadsheet I put together based on info in the nutrition guide and your site. It helps calculate a personal calorie deficit and target. Let me know what you think.
About how much sugar do you consume a day. I eat lots of fruit and nut bars as well as drink a lot if milk. It seems like I am always too high on sugar. How should I avoid this or is sugar from those sources ok? Thanks
Sam, that is a tough one. Even from natural sources it is still sugar. I limited myself to an apple a day and maybe a banana when I was cutting. If you want to get really lean, you are going to need to cut some of those out.
Hey coach, i just finished day 90 of P90X2 (but i still have a 5 day recovery week) and I'm super pumped but next i want to do an ultimate hybrid. I just wanted your thoughts. Heres the link- http://getrippedathome.com/workouts-exercises/round-9-getting-ready-for-p90x2/ Since this was made before X2 i am going to add X2 to the choices along with Insanity. So what do you think? Will it keep up my fitness level from X2 or will it drop. Any suggestions/ideas would help?
Josh that is a great schedule with a lot of flexibility. Keep as many balance aspects of X2 and you will definitely retain your level of fitness.
Hey Coach, One thing I've done to absolutely BUST through a weight loss plateau is to use the intermittent fasting technique. Eat all your calories in an 8 hour window and then fast for 16 hours. The weight is just dropping off since I've been doing that. It's been proven to actually help GAIN muscle and LOSE more fat in the test groups.
I'm having the issue where I feel like I am too full and bloated on the days where I force myself to hit the calories/carb/fat/protein ratios dead on (I'm only on week 2 - fat shredder). According to the book I am Level 2 - 2400 calories. I need to lose body fat % but maintain or gain weight (I'm 20% fat, 6'1", 160lbs). The thing is I logged my diet for a week before starting and I was only eating around 2000 calories a day. It's too early to judge results but I really feel like I am over eating and stuffed when making the numbers. I am "bringing it" on every workout so I should be craving those calories, right? I am concerned that I won't get the reduction in body fat % I'm going for continuing like this. Any advice?
Brett, If 2400 is your maintenance, then try 1800 at Fat Shredder. It will be plenty to maintain your muscle mass. You can either be at a deficit or surplus, not both. Gaining weight and losing BF is next to impossible. Pick one or the other. Check out: http://teamripped.com/big-ripped-or-small-ripped
hhmm are you sure I won't get bulky? I want to look like dreya weber from p90x...she's my hero :) I'd like her lean look.
Christina, Dreya lifts! You won't get bulkly. Eating at a deficit and being a woman (no testosterone like a man) will full prohibit that!
I'm not moving now that's the problem it's been about 3 weeks that I've been at the same weight that's why I'm not sure If I should ad an extra cardio video on my stretch days
Christina have you thought about switching to Classic? Lifting and strengthening your muscles does a lot for burning fat. You could add an extra day of cardio too, I just think you'd benefit from Classic.
I don't know for me I feel like my metabolism is on fire...even when I'm not working out just little things like putting the dishes away I start to get flush...and when I do my workouts my calves and forearms even sweat...but I've been at the same weight for about 3 weeks now and I'm getting discouraged...I've lost 60lbs so far but I have alot to go....and as far as eating I'm on the fat shredder diet and I measure everything..the food used to be enough but I find that when I get to dinner I'm HUNGRY I thought my stomach would have shrunk some by now..I'm on the lean routine my husband thinks that on my stretch days I should ad cardio x....what do you think coach...
I'd say keep it rockin' Christina! You are still losing weight right? If you are still moving down, keep going! That is great that you are burning everything up.
when on a mountain bike ride this weekend it was my first time we went 28 miles ! I don't think I would have made it if I hadn't been doing p 90 x I'm on the second time around.
hey coach, have you ever had an injury that has prevented you from working out? last monday while doing body best bulk chest, the stability popped while doing chest press and i landed on my back with the 45 pound dumbbells in my hands and broke my right radius by my wrist. after spending a week being mad i am ready to get moving again. since i cant work my upper body with weights for obvious reasons, what exercises do you suggest? i was thinking doing plyox, p90x legs without the back, and maybe some insanity skipping the stuff on the ground. does sound good for the next six weeks while staying on my 1900 calorie diet? sorry for the long post. thanks for all of your posts and support. they are a big help to all of us. Chad
Hey Chad, sorry man! That is rough. I think your plan sounds really good. Change those goals to cardio. Keeping your diet dialed in will be huge. I have fortunately not been injured like that! I think it may be time to look around craigslist for bench or get the Beast's bench from TBB. Heal up soon!
JR, If you're like me, you'll gain a little weight when you go back on maintenance. Don't let this freak you out, like I said, after a few weeks of eating at maintenance, the first week I went back to 1900 calories I lost 3.5 lbs. Obviously not all of that is fat but it will come back off pretty quickly. Hope that helps, I was really stuck for months, I kept thinking I needed to go lower but 1800 calories/day didn't move it, 1600 calories/day didn't move it, and at that point I just wasn't feeling all that great. I'm going to schedulate diet breaks every 12 weeks or so from now on.
coach wayne quick q..on my salmon fillets the total fat is 15 g.now i heard that this is good fat.should i eat it or try to remove the skin.tnjks
Jonathan, on salmon you can grill it skin on. Put down some aluminium foil and it should pull away from the skin when you take it off the grill. You can also cut the filet away from the skin before cooking. This will leave behind some meat, but also the fishier tasting of the meat.
Lassie01, Thanks, I'm currently going through the same issue. I thought diet was different and didn't know that just like exercise you have to change it up a bit. Great to know I'm not alone and now I can change calorie amounts from time to time.
Good point...it was kind of a late night last night...about 6 hrs of sleep which isnt normal. I will work on getting to bed earlier. With 4 kids in the summer time it's tough to think about bed time before 9, lol. I felt good when I woke up but once I started lifting...man I felt drained. I think it must be the sleep cause it wasn't normal. About the PWO, I took Nano this morning (2 scoops). Thanks man!
You mention our metabolism slows. Is it normal if I feel like mine is in overdrive? I have gone past my origanl goal weight and want to build some serious muscle. Guessing I need to switch the energy booster phase.
Dawn, I'm not sure but use that mental power for good! I am pretty nonstop all day, every day. So that seems like the normal way of life for me!
Hi doc, As you know I have been doing a P90X/Insanity Hybrid for a while now. However, in the Insanity workouts I do not replace any of the resistance exercises with more cardio. I follow all the way through and have made no modifications. Given the fact that I do so many pushups on, for example, Chest and Back am i doing a disservice if I continue with more pushups on the days that I do my Insanity workouts? I'm more focused on athletic prowess as opposed to big muscles. I don't want to find out the hard way that I am going backwards thinking I'm going forward with my goals. I've kept my supplement intake and nutrition values in check. Thank you sir...
JR, you just want to make sure you giving your chest, shoulders, and arms enough recovery time. So many push ups will likely be hard on your shoulders over time. Just keep watch on how you feel.