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Is your workout routine failing you? 5 tactics to push through a plateau

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE HAS STOPPED WORKING

When we pursue a health and fitness programme, we have the best intentions to get consistent results. And for a while, that’s what happens.

But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, the plan just doesn’t keep working. We stop losing weight, our belts aren’t getting smaller (in fact sometimes they get bigger), and our motivation wanes when we see our hard work isn’t paying off the way we hope and expect.

Please note;  just because your results are not currently going in the right direction, this doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard enough or that you’ve done anything wrong.

Tweaking your regime to keep getting results is all part of the journey.

Many of our members have previously struggled with plateaus when working out on their own at gyms in Clapham. Here are 5 tactics you can try to help you get an effective regime back and push through your plateau.

1. DON’T ADD MORE WORKOUTS

The most common answer when your current regime stops working is simply ‘do more’.

One of the key ingredients to getting the results you want is sufficient recovery. The common misconception is that the change happens when you’re training. The change actually happens when your body recovers and adapts, so by adding more workouts you’re limiting your body’s chances of recovering to come back stronger.

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2. FOCUS ON TRAINING QUALITY (NOT QUANTITY)

When we’re busy we try to squeeze as much into our day as possible, including our workouts.

When I say training session quality, what I’m talking about is budgeting sufficient time for warm up and cool down.

Warm up and cool down are the parts that people often overlook when they’re in a hurry, but these are the two key ingredients that make workouts better, recovery faster and results more consistent.

When you warm your body up (head to toe, at least 5-10 minutes so you have a bit of a sweat on when you start training), you’ll have a better workout because warm muscles respond better to training then cold muscles.

In terms of recovery, when you gradually allow your heart rate to drop and stretch out your body (again, 5-10 minutes, head to toe), you’ll help kickstart your recovery by restoring muscle to its original length (muscles shorten during training).

So as opposed to squeezing in that extra HIIT interval, budget time for warm up and cool down – you’ll have better workouts, you’ll recover faster, and your results should improve.

 

3. PRIORITISE QUALITY SLEEP

We often take sleep for granted. When it comes to results, getting quality, restorative sleep is the top priority when it comes to achieving results in a fitness programme.

No matter how good your programme is, no matter how well you eat, if you’re sleep isn’t maximised your best efforts automatically become compromised. You may achieve some temporary results, but to achieve sustainable change sleep has to be consistently good.

The simplest way to find out if your sleep is restorative is to ask yourself if you wake up tired on a regular basis. If you are constantly waking up with brain fog, or hit the snooze button repeatedly before getting up, you probably need to look at how you can improve your sleep quality.

Click here for a link to a podcast interview on how to improve sleep. It provides some great tips and overall expert advice on how you can make subtle changes to improve your sleep quality. Enjoy!

4. MIX UP YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE

We sometimes get caught up in the same workout routine that gets us nowhere.

So change it. If you train in the morning, try the evening. If you train 3 x weekly in a gym, try 2 gym sessions and 1 yoga session.

Sometimes our body simply gets used to the routine. Here at Fit to Last we change up programmes every 4-6 weeks. The reasons for doing this is because it takes that long to see change, get used to the routine, and to ensure adaptation occurs. If the programme is used for longer, the body will adapt to the exercises and results will stagnate.

So if you’ve been using the same routine for a while and you’re not seeing the changes you want to see, it could be time to switch your routine to shake things up.

But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to change your regime. Here are a few simple changes you can make:

  1. Switch the order of your exercises: if you are always starting with a particular movement, end with that and adjust the order so you are seeing different exercises at different times.

  2. Slow the pace: the more time you spend contracting a muscle, the more training benefits that muscle will receive. So next time you squat for example, count to 3 on the way down, pause at the bottom for a count of 1, then count to 3 on the way up…you’ll feel a difference.

  3. Circuits with minimal rest: if you aren’t doing circuits (training different body parts with different exercises, with minimal rest between movements), now is a great time to start. The main benefit of circuit training is that it enables one body part to recover while another is working. It’s a very efficient and effective way to train, and because you’re always doing different things you’ll stay engaged mentally as well as physically.

5. EAT MORE

Yes, you read that correctly. Cutting calories may seem like the easiest way to change your body, but our bodies are way smarter than that.

Try and reduce calories too much, and your body will say ‘okay, I’ll never eat again, I’d better hold onto every ounce of me that I can as this food shortage may last a while’.

Make sure you fuel your activity and recovery by eating enough healthy, whole foods. By giving your body sufficient quantities of quality nutrition, you’ll reap the benefits of effective training by keeping your body fuelled and in good condition.

By eating enough of the right stuff you’ll get the most out of your training and your results will reflect it.

ONE STEP AT A TIME

Now you have 5 tactics to try to get your results moving the right way. The key is to choose only one. Follow it for 2 weeks, and see if you start to see change.

Don’t make more than one change at the same time as you won’t know what’s worked and what hasn’t.

Results take time and patience. By methodically applying the changes above one at a time, you’ll figure out which changes work best for you to improve your results. Also, you’ll have options to change your situation if a plateau ever happens again.

To learn more about healthy exercise and eating habits to achieve your fitness goals, contact James Staring, a leading personal trainer in Clapham, London.

ABOUT JAMES STARING

James StaringJames Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel.

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