Sunday, February 13, 2011

Breaking plateaus

Oh, the dreaded plateau....they can be mental or physical plateaus and if you ask me it's difficult to say which are more frustrating, but if you can break through one generally a breakthrough in the other follows.
The physical plateaus in some ways are easier to tackle as the mental ones come will a lot of baggage that can be difficult to shake loose. But I find in tackling the physical plateau I also benefit from improved stress relief, maybe its from lifting heavy things at the gym (grunt) or a good sweaty cardio session but I also find myself feeling better about things in general after spending some time reassessing and reorganizing a workout and nutrition plan.

Let me help out with a few ideas to help you mix up your training program to get you started:
  1. New exercise: Pick a new exercise for each body part, add a new one or swap out an old one
  2. Vary your equipment/resistance : options include dumbbells, barbells, bodyweight, resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, machines... no excuse to get bored here with so many options
  3. Change the order of the exercises : simple enough and self explanatory, hit a different focus area at the beginning of the workout each week so you aren't performing the same exercises when fatigued every workout
  4. Change your splits : try a new workout plan, upper/lower splits, push/pull splits or full body workouts.
  5. Mix up your reps/sets: Try a new scheme, pyramids (ascending weight/descending reps then reverse) or drop sets (descending weights), supersets, heavy weight/low reps, lighter (not too light :) ) weights/high reps....
  6. Change your tempo : Try slowing down your reps to increase the amount of time the muscle is under tension. New challenge!
  7. Change the scenery : home or gym (trial free pass at a new gym, tag along with a friend on a guest pass) ...(I personally am looking forward to spring to take the workouts outside!)
  8. Change the company : grab a a friend/training partner (new recruit :) to the fit lifestyle?) or go with your iPod!
The key is to change your parameters somehow to stimulate further muscle (and mental) growth. As you can see....really no excuse (except for laziness :) ) to allow a program to rest on a plateau. Spend a few minutes to mix up the plan, try any or all of the above suggestions and let me know how you do....I for one always feel more motivated after switching up the program.

Treat yourself to a new toy for a little motivation :)
GoFit 10-Pound Yellow Kettlebell with Vinyl Coating, Iron Core Training DVD and Exercise Booklet
GoFit GF-MB8 8lb Medicine Ball with DVD Training Session by Mark Verstegen
Bowflex SelectTech 552 Dumbbells
FitDeck Bodyweight
TRX Suspension Training Pro Pack

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