Written by Victoria Scott, Fitness Expert, Founder Sixpack Chick Fitness, Certified Trainer and Nutrition Coach, Fitness World Champion 35+

Hitting a plateau feels like running into an unexpected speed bump on your fitness journey, especially in midlife. It’s a time when our bodies are changing more than ever and our personal lives are jam-packed with commitments and responsibilities. It can throw a wrench in your progress, making it all the more challenging to push forward.

Whether your goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or improving overall fitness, it’s common to reach a point where progress seems to stall (and who has time for that, right?).

Identifying a True Plateau

First, before we turn everything upside down trying to figure what’s “wrong” with you (most likely nothing)… let’s understand how to identify a true plateau and what you can do to overcome one.

If you’ve been maintaining your training program and nutrition plan but see no change in your weight, measurements, photos, or performance for several weeks, you might be at a plateau. If you are seeing improvement in any one of those areas, then you are NOT in a plateau. 

It’s important to note that the ideal pace for fat loss is about 0.4 to 0.8% of your body weight per week. Minor fluctuations within this range don’t necessarily indicate a plateau but are a normal part of the fat loss process.

Five Strategies to Overcome Plateaus

1. Evaluate Your Training Intensity

It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone with our workouts, especially when we’re cutting calories. You might not even notice you’re taking it a bit easier during your sessions. But here’s the thing—keeping that intensity high is key, even when your calorie intake is on the lower side. Think about it: Can you push for one more set, or a couple more reps? Maybe incorporate intensity techniques like dropsets to keep intensity up even if you can’t lift heavier. Pay attention to how hard you’re pushing yourself—your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) will tell you if you’re really giving it your all, or just going through the motions.

2. Enhance Food Quality and Digestion

The quality of the food you eat is just as important as the quantity when it comes to breaking through a plateau. Opt for whole, single-ingredient foods over packaged and processed items. Whole foods not only provide higher nutritional value but also improve digestion, which is crucial for optimal metabolism. Consider swapping out one or two processed items for whole foods each week to gradually improve your diet without overwhelming yourself. 


Additionally, ensure you’re accurately tracking everything you consume, including small bites, condiments, and beverages, as these can add up to 200-500 extra calories per day and knock you out of a deficit. 

3. Emphasize Recovery and Sleep

Adequate rest and recovery are often overlooked aspects of fitness. Poor sleep and stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which can impede weight loss and recovery from workouts. Nothing blunts fat loss faster than chronically getting subpar sleep. If you’re feeling stuck, ensure that you get enough quality sleep, and incorporating activities like yoga or meditation can enhance recovery before slashing calories or adding more cardio.

A good coach spots what you might miss, pushes you when you’re holding back, and crafts a game plan tailored just for you.


4. Track Progress Beyond the Scale

Remember, the scale doesn’t tell you everything. Muscle is denser than fat, meaning you could be losing fat and gaining muscle, and the scale might not budge much. This is something I see a lot, especially with women just starting out or those focusing on recomposition rather than just dropping pounds.

Taking those first progress photos might feel awkward—I’ve been there. I used to skip photos myself and now wish I hadn’t. Those early shots are gold for seeing how far you’ve come. So, take those pics and keep an eye on how your strength and stamina are improving. Often, these changes give you a real sense of your progress, way beyond what the scale shows.

5. Lean on a Pro

Hitting a plateau is like getting stuck in quicksand—the harder you struggle, the deeper you sink. That’s where a coach comes in, not just as a guide, but as a lifeline. They’re not cheerleaders; they bring a toolbox full of strategies, insights, and experience that you might not have on your own. A good coach spots what you might miss, pushes you when you’re holding back, and crafts a game plan tailored just for you — they figure out the why behind the plateau and the how to get results. Trust me, investing in a coach isn’t just getting experience and knowledge, it’s buying your time back. 

Overcoming a plateau requires patience, attention to details, and sometimes a shift in focus. Remember, progress in fitness is not always linear, especially during midlife. I encourage my clients to celebrate the small victories along the way, and remember that every step forward, no matter how small, is progress. You got this!

STRONG Fitness
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