Has it happened to you? You begin to train hard and you’rewatching your diet like a hawk. You start seeing someincredible improvements and then about 4 – 6 weeks intothe program it seems like your training program has gonestale. The scale stops moving, the muscle stops growing,and you’re starting to look at those desserts with avengeful eye.
Stop! Refocus yourself. You have most likely hit a trainingplateau. Once you hit a plateua, it becomes much harder to loseweight or gain additional muscle, depending upon your currentgoals.
In the journey of fitness, plateaus happen to everyone. Your bodyis designed to adapt to any training or nutritional program. Thisadaptation response requires you to constantly make changes inyour training program.
If you want to continually make progress, you have to keep thebody guessing.
Fortunately, there are unlimited ways that you can break througha plateau. Here are some tips to get your body moving again.
Tighten Up Your Diet
Keep in mind that a diet does not mean restricting your caloriesto dangerously low levels. The key to a successful nutritionprogram is to eat fewer processed foods and center your dietaround whole foods that are in their raw, natural state. To reacha new level of fitness, you may just need to clean up your diet.
Most people do well on a diet composed of 50-55% carbohydrates,30% protein, and 15-20% fat. However, a drop in carbohydrateswith a corresponding increase in protein can often help breakthrough a plateau. Some people are more sensitive tocarbohydrates, making it beneficial to limit this particularmacronutrient. Increasing your protein intake will also havemetabolic advantages.
Increase Your Meal Frequency
Having 5 small meals a day can immediately rev up yourmetabolism. Every time you consume calories, you give yourmetabolism a boost. Women should aim for 5 small meals per daywhile men should aim for six. Eating 5-6 smaller meals per daywill help you reach new fitness levels.
These frequent meals will also control your cravings and preventbinges.
Cycle your calories
When you put your body through extreme calorie deficits, yourbody will automatically adjust and begin to conserve energy(also known as calories). Prolonged calorie deficits cause yourbody’s metabolism to plummet and go into starvation mode. Instarvation mode, your body tries to hold onto every caloriepossible in order to conserve energy.
Fortunately, using a method called calorie cycling, you can trickyour body into keeping a high metabolic rate while you’re dietingfor fat loss.
Calorie cycling allows you to eat one to three days of highercalories and higher carbs followed by three days of lowercalories and lower carbs. On these low calorie/low carb days, youlose body fat rapidly. However, before your body can adapt tothese changes and go into starvation mode, you raise thecalories back up so that you don’t hit a weight loss plateau. Byincreasing your calories, you also increase your metabolism andprepare your body to start burning fat again.
When you’re working towards fat loss, cardio should be one of thecornerstones of your training. For optimal results, each sessionshould be a minimum of 30 minutes. However, if you find yourselfhitting a plateau, increase this amount incrementally by five toten minutes at a time. It is best not to go beyond 60 minutes ina single workout.
By increasing your cardio time in intervals, you can bust througha fitness plateau and find which session yields the best results.
If you are already performing cardio workouts that last 45-60minutes and are still looking for ways to increase your results,it’s probably time to increase your frequency. You should alwaysstart with at least three days per week of aerobic exercise. Ifyou find that your routine has hit a plateau or you want toincrease your rate of fat loss, begin to add one additionalworkout per week until you reach six or seven cardio workouts perweek.
You can also use a training technique known as double cardio.Performing cardio twice a day can be used for short periods oftime to break through a plateau and get extremely lean. Thesetwo-a-day workouts will provide you with an incredible boost tothe metabolism and enormous calorie burn. However, keep in mindthat this is not a long-term plan. It is only used to bustthrough a plateau or reach a new peak in your fitness level.
To reach a new level of fitness, you may just need to pushyourself a little harder. Increase the intensity of your workoutand you will immediately find yourself burning more calories inthe same amount of time.
If your heart rate is 120 push it up to 130. If you’ve been doing30 minutes of walking on the treadmill, why not start somejogging. If you’ve been doing 30 minutes on the elliptical, whynot try some high intensity interval training to crank up yourworkout.
High intensity cardio allows you to push yourself for shortbursts and then rest for a short period of time. The intervalscan last from 30 seconds to two minutes. These type of intervalworkouts allow you to burn an enormous amount of calories in arelatively short period of time. Interval training also producesa greater post-exercise effect, burning calories even after theworkout is finished.
The possibilities are endless.
Don’t let your Body Go Stale
If you have been doing the same form of cardio 5 days a week foran entire month, you will likely hit a plateau. Your bodywill quickly adjust to any training routine you throw at it. Oncethis occurs, you will stop burning as many calories during thatparticular activity and weight loss will slow down or possiblyeven come to a screeching halt.
Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem. The keyis to add some variety to your workout routines. Try somekickboxing, jump-roping, circuit training, or even swimming. Ifyou’re looking to enjoy the outdoors, running, biking, and evenroller-blading are all great choices.
In fact, why not sign up for a boot camp class at your local gym.This is one of the latest fitness trends that is becomingextremely popular and can add lots of variety and excitement toyour workout routine.
If your weight training is going kind of stale, why notincorporate some kettlebell training or some heavy bag work. Youcan also change the exercises you do for each body part, usedifferent set/rep schemes, change the tempo, use shorter restintervals, or even change up your grip or stance width. Evensubtle changes can make a difference and activate new muscles.
More is Not Always Better
Keep in mind that there comes a point when you could beovertraining. If you’ve been doing high intensity cardio 6 daysper week and weight training for 4 days per week, you couldeasily go into burnout mode.
Remember, muscles grow while they are at rest. You should betaking at least one day off each week. When you find yourselfcompletely flushed, you may want to take off for a complete week.This rest period will allow you to come back twice as strong andmake even further gains.
Always keep the body guessing. By adding variety to your workoutroutines, you will begin to strengthen many more muscles and aremuch less likely to develop weak points.
Track Your Progress
Throughout your training, it is crucial to track all of yourprogress. Keep a weekly journal of your total body weight, bodyfat percentage, and lean body mass. Otherwise, you will neverknow what works.
To be successful in all of your goals, you must know where youare, where you want to be, and how to get there. Along the way,you are sure to run into plateuas and possibly even a fewproblems. However, if you are tracking your progress, you’llalways know how your body is responding to your training. Anytime you find yourself off course, you can simply adjust yourapproach and revise your plan.
Everyone is different, find out what works for you.
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Kim Roach is the fitness reporter at http://www.healthyeveryday.com,where you can find
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