Getting Off the Training Plateau

Getting Off the Training Plateau

This email comes from a young man seeking to enlist in the Navy after losing weight and getting into shape. He has made significant progress, but is now stuck on a plateau and not seeing any more progress.

Here is his email:

"I weighed over 240 pounds and now after doing my own exercise program of walking /running and eating right, I am down to 195! My exercise routine has mainly consisted of a cardio routine, e.g., running (3-5mi./daily), and walking every once in a while (about 2-3x/wk.) I am stuck now. What are my options?"

"I know part of the problem is that I become easily overwhelmed with all the info that is out there. I actually didn't want to hit the weights yet, because I was afraid of my weight increasing, which I don't want to happen, because I'm trying to move in the other direction sir. What do you think? What do you recommend?"

First of all, congratulations on your goal to serve your country and your determination, over the past four months, to get within fitness and weight standards of the Navy. So far, you have done everything correct. The first phase to achieving a fitness and health goal is to start moving more and eating better foods that fuel your energy needs not fatten you.

For more ideas on these types of foods check out my "Lean Down Plan" article.

It is very common to reach a sticking point when it comes to any training plan. Our bodies can get used to the same routine day after day - week after week until the routines have an ineffective result on weight loss. That is why it is best to vary your training routine from time to time to "shock the system" into burning more calories. What you need is to now add a solid calisthenics plan that will include major muscle groups as arms, legs, and stomach / back (core).

Adding a weight routine or resistance training program has many benefits such as increasing your metabolism, increased bone density, reduced body fat, muscular strength and endurance, and many more health and wellness benefits. The good news is that your body weight counts as resistance just as a weight machine or dumbbell does, so you do not even have to join a gym or purchase expensive equipment to gain the benefits of a resistance training plan.

By adding the following exercises every other day to your workout routine, you will start to lose weight again at the same time as building muscle and losing inches. See the corresponding link for an article with expanded exercise routines to the listed exercises:

Pushups for Chest, Shoulders and Triceps  - Pull-ups for Back, Biceps and Grip MusclesCrunches for Stomach and Lower-back  - Squats and Lunges for Thighs and Hamstrings  - Put it all Together With a Pyramid Workout

Also, start adding speed workouts to your runs to get used to running at a faster pace. Read the "Improving Your PFT Run Time" article for more information or the "Take 2:00 off your Running Pace" article.

From now on, expect to see more inches lost as you remove fatty deposits but build muscle mass. But if you keep the weight light and perform repetitions of 15 or more each set, you will build more muscle endurance than size - thus keeping the weight gain to a minimum. You will still get the benefit of the extra caloric burn which has been studied to be up to 500% greater than cardio alone over a 72 hour period.

Add many of the above ideas to your fitness routines and I promise you will see and feel a difference within 1-2 weeks.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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