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How to avoid fitness plateaus


Karl Henry

Karl Henry

Karl Henry

To continue to improve your knowledge of health and fitness, this week I thought I would bring you some simple tips that will help to improve the results you are getting from your workouts.

No matter what type of exercise you are doing, you want to get the best results from your session. The body is an amazing machine that adapts to the type of workout you do, initially you will see results, but if you don't change your workout on a regular basis, then your results will plateau, you will get bored and eventually you will stop exercising altogether. This is simply because you want to see change, you want to see results and if you don't see results then your motivation levels will suffer.

It's something that can be quite simple to change, so I thought I would share some of my tips with you that I have learnt over the years:

1 Change your routine as often as possible

No matter what your sport is or even the type of workout you are doing, one of the most important tips I can give you is to change your programme as often as possible.

The body is brilliantly efficient at adapting to its environment, but it generally stops adapting after three to four weeks, where your progress and results begin to plateau, you stop seeing progress and you get bored with your training. Change up your workouts as often as possible. With our clients, we change their programme every single session for the best results.

2 Train with someone fitter than you

When you start training you aren't very fit and training with others improves your fitness very quickly. As you get fitter, all of a sudden the group sessions become a little easier, you recover quicker and begin to excel in the sessions.

A simple way to improve your workouts is to ensure you are training with someone fitter than you all the time. They will push you harder than you push yourself, you will learn from them and their sessions too.

Any new sport that I want to get into, I always use this tip as it helps me to learn so much more about the sport.

3 Time yourself

Timing yourself can be a crucial but important way to help you to workout harder. Especially with your weights workouts. Spending hours in the gym can be unproductive, aim to see how long it takes you to complete your workout and then try to get that time down.

Reducing your rest breaks and pushing yourself further will help you to radically improve your results. That five or 10-kilometre route that you run, aim to cut a few seconds off it every time you go out.

4 Aim to add in a new exercise every session

When it comes to weights workouts, there are hundreds of exercises to choose from. A great way to learn new exercises and also push the body a bit harder is to add a new exercise into your routine with every session you do.

Keep an eye on the magazines and newspapers, cut out new exercises that look good, or go on YouTube and take a look at what is out there at the moment. You will find some really good stuff and you are helping to improve your knowledge as well as your body.

5 Book a personal training session

If you find that you can't find the motivation to make those changes or just don't know where to start or what to measure, you can book a session with a personal trainer. You don't need to sign up for lots of sessions, just book one, get measured and get some professional advice on how to get the results that you are looking for from your sessions.

6 Look at your post-training recovery food

An often neglected aspect of training is post-training recovery. When you exercise, you put stress on the muscles. This stress causes minute tears in the muscle fibres. It is this stress that creates the changes in the body. What you eat post training will dramatically dictate your results, your level of soreness and how you recover too.

Post session, you have two windows. The first is within the first 20 minutes - here you need carbs/protein, so fruit, high-protein milk or flavoured milk are perfect. Ideally, then within an hour, post session, you need to get protein and coloured vegetables into you, as the protein is the best recovery fuel and vegetables are full of antioxidants, as well as minerals and vitamins.

7 Add some intervals into your workouts

Steady-state exercise is good for the body, but your body can adapt to doing it and stop gaining results. If this is the case, add some intervals into your sessions. They are fantastic for burning fat and achieving results for your body.

Intervals are simple: one fast speed and one recovery or slow speed. Pick a time, one minute for example and go flat out for that minute followed by one minute recovery. You can change the time of the intervals as often as you like, remember the more change the better.

No matter what your sport, for optimum results you need to keep changing as many aspects of the session as you can. The more you change, the better your results.

Irish Independent