Hit a training plateau? We’ve all been there, and it can be pretty disheartening. But before you ditch the gym bag and reach for the remote, hear us out.
Exercising isn’t about being tied to a treadmill five nights a week. It’s all about mixing it up and keeping your body and mind interested in being active.
Get more from your workout with these 6 simple training tricks.
Scrutinise Your Diet
A common fitness flaw you’ll find with many is that they exercise to compensate for poor eating habits. 40-mins at the gym excuses a family size packet of crisps post-workout right? Wrong.
True, if you exercise regularly, indulging in a treat once in a while won’t do any harm. But if you want to see results and get more from your workout, you really need to put your diet under the microscope. A study made by the British Journal of Sports Medicine claims that “physical activity has little role in tackling obesity – and instead public health messages should squarely focus on unhealthy eating,” says the BBC.
What we fuel our body with has a larger role than many of us realise. Concentrate on filling your diet with lean proteins for muscle growth, lots of legumes for energy, and antioxidant-rich fruits and greens to keep you in tiptop shape.
You’re doing 50 squats a day, but that toned bum just ain’t happening. If you’re shaking your head in the mirror wondering why nothing’s changed, consider revising your exercise technique. Sometimes just a slight tweak to the way you’re positioned can make the world of difference to an exercise. If it seems too easy, you’re probably doing it wrong.
Speaking of the squat – are your feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, back straight, core engaged, quads parallel to the ground? You should be able to feel it in the upper thighs. If you can’t seem to grasp this move, switch to an alternative that also targets this area; like step-ups for instance. The same goes for every exercise. Good technique doesn’t only maximise performance levels; it helps avoid injury too!
Devise A Plan
Any exercise is better than none; we get that. But if you’re determined to see results, don’t walk into a workout regime blind. Concentrate on what you want to achieve and realise your ambitions with the right tools and training.
It completely depends on your level of strength and ability, how much you push yourself each week. Beginners, keep it simple and adhere to the recommended ‘150 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic activity or 75 minutes vigorous-intense aerobic activity with 2 or more days dedicated to muscle-strengthening activities,’ at least. Ensure that the regime is full body, targeting each muscle group.
By devising a realistic plan of what you want to achieve, whether that be through online research or speaking to a personal trainer; and assigning specific days to certain types of exercise and sticking to it, it’ll soon become habit. You’ll know that you’re not wasting time at the gym and that you’re getting the most from your workout.
Find A Buddy
Many say that they prefer to exercise alone as it enables them to concentrate better. But there’s no harm calling on reinforcements if solo workouts make you yawn. Exercising with friends is proven to boost mood, happiness levels and motivation. But choose your gym buddies wisely… We won’t lie, going to the gym with a friend can be unproductive – all gossip and no weights, gets you nowhere! However, surround yourself with individuals who are just as pumped and eager for change as you are will only spur you on.
The Journal of the American Board of Sport Psychology agrees, “developing social links as part of an exercise program (including working out with friends) often results in better exercise adherence.” You share the same work ethic, and can pick each other up (perhaps literally) when you feel like you can’t push yourself any further.
The problem with many gym routines is that we stick to the same machines time and time again. Whilst you might be working the right muscles, it’s good to keep things varied, and work parts of the body that can sometimes be forgotten. A good way to do this is by incorporating compound exercises into your workout. Don’t ditch isolation exercises completely – just think about adding a new move here and there.
Total-body compound movements boost your heart rate and build muscle in one. They may be tough, but always promise visible results. Again, squats are a great compound movement, especially when combined with a kettle bell lift. Others to try include deadlifts, military press and dips using parallel bars.
Seems counterintuitive, but it’s true. Overtraining can happen, and if you’re leaving no time for recovery, your body won’t benefit from your hard work. You need time to recuperate/relax in order to grow. Muscle gains don’t happen as you workout – they develop during periods of rest.
Little attention is given to downtime between workouts, but it’s so important to your overall success. Be that taking 60 second breaks between sets, or giving yourself a day off from exercise every other day; it isn’t weakness, your body, both mentally and physically, needs to rest too.