mix it up: ln order to keep losing weight you need to alternate your regimen – try new exercises
So, you are one month in and you've hit the wall, you've reached that dreaded point where you are just simply stuck, and the scales are too! The weight has been coming off steadily, your fitness levels increasing but all of a sudden everything is at a standstill, your body has reached what we call the "plateau" phase.
Why does this happen?
Unfortunately, it is not known exactly what causes the plateau. What we do know is that there is no need to panic or console yourself in a tin of biscuits! Everybody reaches this stage at some point. We all experience times in our training/nutrition programmes when we feel stale and quite frankly, bored. There are many ways to re-energise your programme. Here are some tips to help you burst through that plateau.
Rest is vital in avoiding a plateau. Your body needs to recover after exercise. If you don't have adequate recovery time your muscles will in fact become weaker. When strength training, always allow 1-2 days of rest between muscle groups e.g. if you train biceps on Monday you shouldn't train them again on Tuesday, wait until at least Wednesday or Thursday.
If you like being active daily you can try active recovery. This involves doing lower intensity exercise rather than none at all. So instead of taking a high intensity spin class, you can go for a walk or cycle. We all know how important those zzzs are, try to get seven to eight hours' sleep per night; this is the time when your muscles will be repairing and rebuilding.
Learn to listen to your body. Push yourself out of your comfort zone always, but know when to stop and relax.
Oftentimes, when we try to eat healthily, our diet becomes quite boring and monotonous.
We stick to what we know won't cause our bodies carnage, but we should still try new things!
Being more adventurous will not only make meal times more fun for you, it will also challenge your metabolism, forcing it to deal with different foods and quantities, thus helping to bust that plateau!
• Keep a food diary
This will help you identify where your diet pitfalls are and allows you to overcome them.
Remember also to stay hydrated so that your body can function correctly.
• Variety is the spice of life
Our bodies are amazingly intelligent so we need to be one step ahead all the time.
I believe in having a weekly exercise plan where you know at the beginning of the week what days and times you will train, but the body still needs to be regularly confused in order to see improvement.
ways to crank up your cardio
• Try a new form of exercise
Instead of walking, try running or cycling. If you usually take an aerobics class, give spinning a go or try new classes like TRX or Boot Camp.
• Take a different instructor's class
You will experience new ways of teaching which will force you out of your comfort zone.
• Change your work environment
Move from the gym to the park. If you usually run on a treadmill, try road running instead.
• Join a club
This will give you motivation and that extra push during your workouts.
• Change the length of your workout
Add an extra 5-10 minutes to your usual routine or why not try a shorter session with more intensity? Train at a different time of the day, even one day a week.
• Interval training
This is one of my favourite ways of getting results, improving fitness and endurance. During your workout alternate between short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phase eg one minute fast, two minutes slow for 30 minutes.
• Pump up your programme
As I mentioned last week, there are many approaches to resistance training.
You must change your programme regularly to see results. Here are some ways to vary your routine:
• Try dumbbells
If you usually use machine weights try dumbbells, if you stick to body weight exercises, try using resistance bands. Mix it up!
• Change your exercises
Change the actual exercises you perform. There are so many exercises for each muscle group, change your regular bicep curl to a bicep hammer curl, or perform your shoulder press on a Swiss ball to challenge balance, core.
• Change your reps and sets
If you are used to doing high weights, low reps do the opposite.
Ask a trainer for tips on Pyramid Training, Super Setting, and Circuit Training because there are many ways to challenge the muscles and get them working even harder.
Challenge your body and in time, you will see positive results.
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