There is nothing quite as frustrating as seeing your results fizzle out.
This is a common occurrence, usually after a few months of doing the same exercise routine for the past several months. At first your body responds, loses some initial weight, gets a bit stronger…, then all progress comes crashing down and stops.
Why does this even happen in the first place? And, more importantly, how can you stop it?
Your muscles adapt quickly to any repetitive routine. It’s like what Albert Einstein once said: “the definition of ‘insanity’ is to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results.” The same can be said of your workouts.
When your results stop, it’s time to do something new.
• The problem: Your muscles have adapted to your routine.
• The Solution: Apply the concept of muscle confusion (AKA new stimulus for the body/mind).
Muscle confusion, a buzz word that’s overused, makes people think that your muscles can actually be confused. Well your brain is responsible to transmitting messages and electronic signals to respond to actions and thoughts… so muscle confusion is pretty much mind confusion.
But, to keep it easy, we’ll stick to saying “muscle confusion.” Anyway, it’s your body’s way of staying off of what’s now becoming very predictable.
I have good news – the following 4 strategies are guaranteed to crank your workouts up to the next level and to deliver better results.
Strategy #1: Do a Superset or a Compound Set
Supersets are when two consecutive exercises are done back-to-back with no rest at all for opposing muscle groups. For example: every man’s #1 favorite exercise… the bicep curl, followed immediately by any exercise that works the triceps.
Compound sets are when two consecutive exercises of the same muscle group are done with no rest in between at all either. For example: dumbbell lunges followed by bodyweight squat jumps.
Such techniques are often used to fight off exercise plateaus, increasing muscular endurance, and adding a cardiovascular element to your workout – which results in more fat burn.
Strategy #2: Focus on Negatives
Each time that you do a weight lifting repetition you are using three types of phases.
1. Concentric Phase: lifting the weight.
2. Static Phase: holding weight in a contracted position.
3. Negative (Eccentric) Phase: lowering the weight.
So many people miss out on this third phase because they tire and just quickly drop the weight or rush through the exercise. It’s totally understandable that pushing or pressing a challenging weight is a bit tough and sooner or later the body can only take so much, however the negative phase of each repetition is just as important as the concentric phase.
Before lean muscle can be built from within, it must be destroyed and repaired many times over. The stress our muscles feel during the eccentric phase can in some occasions trump that of the concentric phase due to the fact that extra focus and control is being given to balancing and controlling the resistance. This extra work goes a long way when it comes to building lean muscle and burning fat.
The best way to utilize this phase is to push, pull, or press the resistance (dumbbell, machine, medicine ball, etc.) and gently bring it back to its point of origin. For example, instead of focusing on pushing the body up from the ground during pushups, slowly allow the body for 5 seconds to come close to the ground without second. Each second that passes, your body lowers itself. When 5 seconds pass and you’re close to the ground, immediately push yourself up quickly-as normal-and repeat this process. A uniquely different ‘pump’ or ‘burn’ will take place in the abs, arms, and chest.
Strategy #3: Use Active Rest
Every minute of your workout is an opportunity to increase intensity and burn more fat. Don’t waste precious minutes with long rest periods by chit chatting with others, texting, waiting to see what happens on TV, or people watching.
While it is important to catch your breath if you feel winded, most of the time you would benefit more from an active rest. Do one of the following activities for 30 seconds between exercises and turn your regular workout into High Intensity Interval Training.
• Burpees: Start in a sanding position and bend at the waist. Once your hands hit the floor, push your entire body back, extending your legs until they’re straight and you’re in the push-up position. Go down for a push-up, and when you push yourself up, jump slightly to bring your feet back near your hands. Finally, jump in the air with your arms fully extended over your head.
• Mountain Climbers: Place your hands wider than shoulder-width apart on the ground in a push-up position. Bring one knee to your chest and then back to the starting position, alternate each leg quickly.
• Side-to-Side Ab Twists: With feet close together, jump and twist your legs left to right – holding your abs tight. Keep a bend in your knees and swing your upper arms with each twist.
• Jump Lunges with Pop Squat: Start in a lunge position, lunge down then quickly jump up, switching your leg position in midair, land in an opposite leg lunge. Once you’ve done both legs, jump straight into a squat.
Strategy #4: Adjust the Exercise
Some exercises are considered ‘cornerstones’ of the big chain gym.
The bicep curl. The chest press. The squat. The shoulder press. Been there, done that…right?
While it’s not to suggest that these exercises should never be done again, it’s so important to find different ways to do them to challenge your muscles.
Try some of these exercise adjustment:
• Squat on a Bosu ball
• Use a stability ball for dumbbell chest presses instead of a bench.
• Do a full squat between each repetition of shoulder presses.
• Do a shoulder press between each repetition of bicep curls.
If you’d like a sure-fire way to break through your fitness plateau and to melt away unwanted fat, then other things such as weight loss coaches, personal training or boot camps can certainly take care of all of these different strategies for you.
About this Author
Call 877-250-9423 or come visit www.MercerCountyBootCamp.com and together we will come up with a fitness plan that is uniquely yours, one that fits your lifestyle and brings you promptly to your goals.