Have you hit a fitness plateau or just wanting to push yourself harder but are unsure of how to do so?
A plateau happens when your body no longer responds to your fitness or diet routine. Your body can begin to adjust to your exercise routine and ‘get used’ to the amount of demand you are putting on it. Once your body has adapted to a routine over time, you may not continue to reap the benefits until you make changes that force your body to move and work in new ways.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE HIT A PLATEAU?
There are a few things to look out for in terms of hitting a fitness plateau. Are you sweating as much as you used to or getting your heart rate up still? If not it may be time to challenge yourself and change something within your workout. I don’t condone working out until you are so sore you can’t move, but DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can be a good indicator that you are challenging your muscles. If you stop feeling this maybe it is time to step up a level with the weights. If you are feeling bored or like your workout is another thing to tick off your daily to-do list it is probably time to challenge yourself! Feeling challenged and inspired during a workout will make you want to come back for more.
Below are some ways you can adapt your workouts for more of a challenge:
The speed at which you workout applies to any sort of exercise – not just cardio. You lift weights at a certain speed the same way you run or swim at a certain speed. Try increasing the tempo of your workouts and see what changes it makes in terms of muscle fatigue and heart rate. It is a great method of making your workout more of a challenge.
It may seem like an obvious idea within strength training, as it is normal to increase your weights. However think outside of the weight room about increasing weights in other forms of exercise. Do you run? Why not try a weighted backpack or jacket? If you take a pilates or yoga class try attaching weighted ankle straps for more of a challenge.
A mix of the two above points will be a definite way of increasing your heart rate and making a workout harder. However make sure you are being mindful of how your body is feeling so you don;t injure yourself or make yourself ill. Gradually increasing the intensity is a far safer idea that going in full pelt.
Rest within a workout is just as important as the hard work itself, but you can make a workout more challenging by shortening your resting periods. Between sets when lifting weights try halving your rest time, so if you normally wait 60 seconds between sets try resting for only 30 seconds. Or if you really want to challenge yourself try supersets where you do one lift after the other. If you are a runner who practices sprints, you can try cutting down your rest period in-between sprints and really challenge yourself.
Working out on an unstable surface can not only work the muscles of your chosen exercise, it can also work your core as you are trying to keep yourself from falling over. You can do this in numerous ways including standing on one leg during deadlifts, standing on a bosu ball for squats, or standing in a lunge position for upper body weight lifts.