When you're trying to get fit, or lose that unwanted weight, nothing is quite as frustrating as seeing your results go flat. This is a common place where many people end up, usually after a few months on the same exercise routine. In the beginning your body responds well to your routine with lost pounds and gained muscle tone, then one day all your hard earned results screech to a sudden stop.
Why does this happen? And, more importantly, how can you prevent it from happening?
Is this you or someone you know? It's a common occurance. Let's see why this happens.
To start, your muscles adapt quickly to any repetitive routine. Remember that the definition of 'insanity' is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. This holds true for your workouts. When your results stop, it's time to change your routine.
Believe it or not your body is pretty smart, and what's happened is your muscles have adapted to your routine. So what do you do? Simple, it's time to change your routine and confuse your muscle so it starts from scratch and you start regain the results you want.
Let me offer 4 ways to move your workouts up a notch or two so you can start enjoying the results you've been accustomed to.
1: Use a Drop Set
Drop sets are often used to fight off exercise plateaus. This technique is great for increasing muscle strength, endurance and for adding to the cardiovascular benefit of your workout,which ultimately results in more fat burn.
This is how to do a drop set: When you perform an exercise to exhaustion, don't stop there. Drop the weight by 80% and do another set.
You could take it a step further by dropping the weight twice, making it a double drop. Or drop the weight three times for a descending drop set. Use this technique only once or twice per workout, on the final set of the exercise.
2: Focus on Negatives
Each time that you do a weight lifting repetition you are using three types of strength.
Most people completely miss the benefit of the negative in each repetition by allowing the weight to drop quickly with little control. It is understood that the negative portion of each repetition is just as important as the positive portion, possibly more important.
- Positive strength: lifting the weight.
- Static strength: holding weight in a contracted position.
- Negative strength: lowering the weight.
Focus on the negative portion of each repetition by lowering the weight very slowly. Concentrate on the negative contraction, and make each repetition count.
If you are advanced, then use a training partner to assist you in moving heavier-than-normal weight into a contracted position, then lower it very slowly.
Another way to utilize negative repetitions on a machine is to lift the weight using two limbs but then lower it with just one. For example, use both legs to lift the weight on a leg extension machine, but then lower it back down slowly using only one leg.
3: Use Active Rest
Every minute of your workout is an opportunity to increase intensity and to burn more fat. Don't waste precious minutes with long rest periods.
While it is important to catch your breath if you feel winded, most of the time you would benefit more from an active rest. Do one of the following activities for 30 seconds between exercises and turn your regular workout into High Intensity Interval Training.
High Knees with Alternating Punches: Alternately bring each knee high to your chest in a quick jumping movement while alternating forward punches at shoulder level.
Burpees: Start in a sanding position and bend at the waist. Once your hands hit the floor, push your entire body back, extending your legs until they're straight and you're in the push-up position. Go down for a push-up, and when you push yourself up, jump slightly to bring your feet back near your hands. Finally, jump in the air with your arms fully extended over your head.
Side-to-Side Jumps on Bench: Stand on one side of an exercise bench. Place the foot closest up onto the bench, jump up and switch feet, then land on the opposite side of the bench.
Mountain Climbers: Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.
Side-to-Side Ab Twists: With feet close together, jump and twist your legs left to right - holding your abs tight. Keep a bend in your knees and swing your upper arms with each twist.
Jump Lunges with Pop Squat: Start in a lunge position, lunge down then quickly jump up, switching your leg position in midair, land in an opposite leg lunge. Once you've done both legs, jump straight into a squat.
Sand Bag Squat Jumps: With feet wider than shoulder-width apart hold a sand bag at chest level. Squat down until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Explosively jump up, raising the sand bag straight over your head.
4: Modify your Exercise
There are certain exercises that are considered 'staples' in the gym. The squat. The lunge. The chest press. The shoulder press. The bicep curl. We all know how to do these exercises, and I'm sure you do them regularly in one form or another. While you shouldn't discard these exercises, find creative ways to modify the familiar motion in order to challenge your muscles. Try these exercise modifications:
- Squat on a Bosu ball or balance board.
- Place a weighted bar across your shoulders and do walking lunges.
- Use an exercise ball for chest presses instead of the bench.
- Do a full squat between each repetition of shoulder presses.
- Do a shoulder press between each repetition of bicep curls.
If you'd like some help with these programs or simply need help breaking through your fitness plateau, contact me and I'll be happy to help.
Here's another thought to help you as you go through your plateaus, remember to find your motivation to be fit. Motivation comes from having a goal. What is your goal? Why do you want to get into great shape?
Take a minute to really uncover the reason that you want to lose the weight. Don't say something vague like you want to 'Be thinner' or 'Look more attractive.' Dig deeper - there is a very specific motivator in your life, you simply need to uncover it. When you do it's like opening the "Pandora's Box" and all of the riches pour out.
Here are some possible motivators...
- I want to have more energy to keep up with the kids.
- I want to improve my health through weight loss to extend and improve my life.
- I want to lose 15 pounds before my vacation.
- I want to restore my confidence to wear sleeveless shirts.
- I want to regain my figure to impress and attract my significant other.
Whatever motivates you, find it and use it to be all you want to be. You can do it, and remember you're not alone. Thats why I'm here, don't be afraid to contact.
Until next time, remember "Stay Fit You'll Feel Better."
Wash, peel and pit the peach. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
Pre-heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spray lightly with coconut cooking spray.
Saute the peach pieces for about a minute, then add the agave nectar, salt and cinnamon. Continue to saute for another few minutes until it turns a deep golden color. Serve and enjoy immediately!