Best Exercises For Dealing With A Weight Loss Plateau

October 23, 2023

Weight loss plateaus happen to everyone. Weight fluctuates daily; things like water weight can increase or decrease an individual's weight by quite a few pounds overnight. But if you’ve been stepping on the scale week after week only to see the same numbers, it can be disheartening, especially if you’ve double- and triple-checked your diet to make sure you are maintaining your calorie defect. One of the best ways to break that plateau is to change up your exercise routine. Cardio is the best way to burn calories in the short term, but building muscle will help increase your resting metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn more calories while you’re working or sleeping. We’ve pulled together a list of exercises especially suited to breaking out of your plateau and getting back on track with your weight loss.

High-Intensity Interval Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has seen a huge boom this year for a good reason: it combines the benefits of going as hard as you can with carefully timed rests so you don’t burn out. There are myriad varieties of HIIT, from straight cardiovascular exercises to rowing to full-body strength workouts. If you are already doing HIIT and are still plateauing, try changing up your routine and make sure you’re going as hard as you can. As your body adjusts to your exercises, you will need to up your intensity; what was your eighty percent before may only be your fifty percent now. If you’re just starting out, remember that you will get the most out of your workout by doing shorter, more intense intervals. It’s harder to sustain a good burn for a full minute, but doing an interval for twenty seconds means you can push yourself well out of your comfort zone. The further out of that comfort zone you go, the more your body will have to work, and the more likely it is you’ll break the weight loss plateau.

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Changing things up from your usual routine is one of the best ways to get your body back to burning fat. The human body is a marvel built to adjust to even the most strenuous of conditions; keeping it guessing by switching from a running or strength routine to the combination exercises of kickboxing might be just what you need to kick a plateau to the curb. While it's primarily cardio, the complex routines also give a great full-body toning session with your body weight for resistance. Keeping your posture solid and your core tight also works for the big muscle groups in your torso and abdomen, which means you are burning more calories. If you’re someone who cannot stand the repetition and mindlessness of something like HIIT, kickboxing offers a moderate to high-intensity alternative that makes it feel like you’re accomplishing something worthwhile. After all, the more you enjoy a workout, the more likely it is you will keep at it. Keeping at an exercise regimen is one of the biggest factors in ending a weight loss plateau.

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Strength Training

Cardio is one of the most common methods used to burn weight. It burns the most calories, after all, and is a go-to for easy and effective health improvement. However, if you’re hitting the track five days a week and still find yourself plateauing, swapping some of your cardio days for strength training days can be just what your body needs to start losing again. Straight cardio is great for losing weight, but it doesn’t help maintain lean muscle mass, and you’re just as likely to lose lean muscle as well as fat when you’re losing weight. While muscle weighs as much as fat, focusing on building it ensures your entire body stays healthy and lean while keeping your metabolism from slowing down too much. Muscles need energy to function, after all, so having more means you will be burning more even while you’re doing mundane, day-to-day tasks. The great part? While you might worry building muscle will increase your numbers on the scale again, muscle burns more calories than fat. Any short-term increase in weight will lead into your numbers dropping again. Promise.

It's time to reveal the next exercise for beating a weight loss plateau.

Jump Rope

What may seem like a cheap and childish way to entertain yourself with some friends is actually an effective plateau-breaking tool. As a relatively cheap and extremely portable piece of exercise equipment, a jump rope session can give you the burn of an eight-minute mile in just fifteen or twenty minutes. Why? The motions needed to manage this exercise are surprisingly complex, especially if you haven’t done it since childhood. Jumping isn’t something most adults do, and it requires more muscle work than running a step. It also helps tone both the upper and lower body, improves balance, and forces you to work on your coordination. Make sure you’re fit before you start, though, as repeated jumping can put a lot of stress on the knees and ankles. Don’t be afraid to work in other exercises, either; it’s hard to do it more than a few minutes at a time. Alternating jump rope with marching in place, jogging, or calisthenics will keep your heart rate up and your muscles engaged.

Keep reading for more ways to beat a weight loss plateau quickly.


While the most common exercise thought of when weight loss and exercise are brought up, losing weight or breaking a plateau through running requires a good deal of planning. Any change, whether you’re just starting out or trying to up your game, needs to be done slowly to avoid injury. New runners or runners getting back into it should do intervals until their stamina and joints are up to the task. Once you can run consistently, however, there are two routes you can take: run longer or run harder. Marathons are a great way to burn more calories, while alternating sprints can give you a higher burn in less time. If you’re still plateauing, try working some weights in, add extra walking into your daily routines, or adjusting your diet to suit your body’s changing needs.

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