Ask our expert: What do you do when you’ve reached a plateau? More cardio or more weights?

Brian Haycock tells you how to bust through your plateau and get back to scorching up calories

February 6, 2013
Ask our expert: What do you do when you’ve reached a plateau? More cardio or more weights?

Q. What do you do when you’ve reached a plateau? More cardio or more weights?

A. Both, but it’s really more about total calories burned than workout type. A good rule of thumb is that if you aren’t burning at least 600 calories per workout, whether it be cardio, weights, or both, you should bump it up until you do hit that 600 mark. If you’re already burning that many calories per workout, then you may have reached the dreaded plateau—and you’re not alone. Anyone who attempts to get relatively lean eventually hits one, so you may need to adjust your diet by 250 to 500 fewer calories a day to get the results you want.

Another key factor in terms of exercise is how high your adrenaline gets while you’re doing your workout; this determines whether you will burn off subcutaneous fat (i.e., the fat under your skin) or not. When you begin to exercise intensely, your brain sends a signal to your adrenal glands to release adrenaline. This helps direct blood flow to working muscles and mobilizes stored fat, which can be used as fuel in working muscles. Try to incorporate interval training every time you do cardio. This boosts your adrenaline levels and increases the release of subcutaneous fat.