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Workouts Not Working?
Overcoming plateaus in your exercise routine


By Penny Wardlaw
/www.TranquilityCoaching.com


When someone first starts an exercise program, they will probably see some pretty good results for the first three to eight weeks. After that it is very common that every six to eight weeks you will need to change your program slightly to keep seeing progress on a regular basis. This is because the human body has the wonderful ability to adjust itself to the stress and load of your current workout program. This is called adaptation, and that simply means that the body has done just that, adjusted and adapted to the stress youíre putting on it, and the body is now considering that as normal. This means that you have to change your program or add something new every several weeks. This can be as simple as adding more weight to your sets, changing the speed of the reps, changing the rest time between reps, doing a few supersets, changing the amount of sets you do, or you can change the actual exercise you do for a particular muscle group. Another great way of overcoming the adaptation is to change the way you do particular exercise. For instance, if you usually do a particular exercise with a barbell, try doing it with dumbbells or on a machine for a change of pace, this can add a lot of variety and keep you from getting complacent with the work out as well as overcoming the plateau. There is a simple formula to use when needing to adapt your fitness program its called Frequency / Intensity /Time/Type or F.I.T.T. which stands for: frequency- increase or decrease how often you work out, Intensity- increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you work-out, Time- increase or decrease how long you work out, Type- change the type of exercise you perform. You can also adapt to your cardio program as well as your weight lifting routine. The same rules would apply to getting your body to better respond to your cardio needs too.

 

Another commonly used term for the adaptation of your body to exercise is called hitting a plateau. This means exactly what you visualize, a time spent with no upward or downward progression. So, how would you know that youíve hit a plateau and need to make changes to your routine? First and foremost, you have probably stopped seeing any change in your muscle growth or the scale has stopped going down, no weight loss, no apparent muscle growth. Maybe you used to feel that soreness in your muscles after your work outs, [which is a build of lactic acid in the muscles] and now that soreness isnít there anymore. Maybe you were doing great with your cardio, and the pounds seemed to be falling off. Now suddenly the scales seem to be stuck, you havenít lost a pound in more than a week. There are a couple of ways you know that you have hit a plateau and need to make some changes to your work out program. As far as cardio goes there are many ways to get back on track. One way is to start an interval training a couple of days a week. This would mean for instance, if youíre walking or jogging on a treadmill  [or out doors], start by walking for about 5 minutes ( after a good warm up of course) Then sprint for a couple of minutes, then walk for another five minutes and then sprint again. Continue this for the usual amount of time you would spend which should be at least 20 minutes or preferable 30 to 45 minutes. If you are only doing your cardio for 20 minutes right now, you can increase the amount of time you spend to 30 minutes. This alone will break the silence so to speak. If you are only spending 20 minutes on cardio because you donít have any more time than that to devote to it, and then try the interval training instead.. This could be as simple as increasing the intensity at which you are jogging or riding your bike. I donít suggest that you increase time and begin interval training simultaneously though. This could result in a new plateau because of over working. This brings me to the other end of the spectrum of how and why we hit plateaus in our exercise routines.

Over working and lack of proper down time can also make us hit plateaus in our work out programs and keep us from achieving our goals. This often happens when we begin a routine and see results which happen very fast at the outset of our new program as Iíve already discussed. We decide that if we work out more often (sometimes every day or even twice a day) and work out even harder on those work-outs we will see results even more rapidly. Unfortunately this is not the case at all. When we work out with weights, or cardio, we are putting our muscles under a great deal of stress. We have to keep in mind that the body also needs sufficient time to rest and rebuild in order to be at peak performance at your next work out session. Sleep is a very important part of being healthy and being able to really achieve your fitness and weight loss goals. Without proper sleep our bodies donít get the need time to recuperate and we will never achieve peak performance.
Another thing is what is referred to as active rest .Laying off your work out routine for a week or so to allow your body to go on vacation while participating in fun activities like playing ball with your kids, taking a walk around your neighborhood or try a yoga class. All of these things are exercise but they are restful exercise that should be enjoyed. This way you are giving your body a vacation from the mental stress of going to the gym to hit the weights with the expectation of having your body do great things constantly. When do you do your best at your job? When youíre under a fast approaching deadline and your job is on the line, or is it when you are relaxed and have plenty of time to complete a familiar task, and the boss has gone on vacation leaving you in charge. Of course we all tend to work best when the things we are doing are doing are somewhat fun and simple and the expectations are not overwhelmingly high. Our bodies are no different.

Another thing to consider if youíve hit a plateau is whether you eating to much or, maybe not enough, and what are eating. We all know that food is the fuel that our bodies run on. If your goal is to increase muscle mass and youíve hit a plateau with your lifting then maybe you arenít getting enough calories for your body to be able to perform at its
peak. You need suffiencent calories to sustain your new cardio and weight training but low enough so that you actually shed pounds. Keep a food dairy for a week or two (which you should be doing anyway if youíre on a weight loss program) and see where your calories are coming from. Are you eating enough protein? Are there to many carbohydrate calories and not enough vitamins and fiber from fresh vegetables and fruits? I cannot stress enough how important food is to our overall health and fitness. No one will be able to truly achieve their goals of fitness and or weight loss without some adjustments to their diets. You should be eating several small high protein high fiber meals daily. Drink plenty of water. When we exercise our bodies use a tremendous amount of water in the recuperation of our muscles, and in the form of perspiration. If we are not drinking enough water, our bodies will feel week. Conversely the body will bloat if we are dehydrated. So maybe if you are looking for weight loss as your overall fitness goal, and youíve hit a plateau because the scale isnít moving, you are just bloated because you arenít drinking enough water. Water will un- bloat you, make you feel more full and satisfied so youíre not so hungry for those cookies and burgers, and our muscles need the water to heal and grow strong for our next work out.

In conclusion, hitting plateaus and adapting to youíre workout is not only common but guaranteed unless you cover some of these examples if not all of them. Bottom line, change youíre routine from time to time. Keep it interesting and keep striving to learn one more variation to keep it interesting and keep the pounds coming off. Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat properly. But above and beyond all else, keep it fun. Exercise should be something you enjoy, and look forward to, remember the mind is ultimately in charge, so donít stress to mush about the couple of pounds or whether or not you can bench that particular number you have in your head. The bottom line is enjoying! Life isnít about where we end up but the journey we take to get there. So have some fun with your workout and love yourself, if you keep doing what youíre doing with some slight changes the weight will come off and you will become stronger.


Reprint Permission granted by

Penny Wardlaw
www.tranquillitycoaching.com
A life coaching and weight loss coaching company

 

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