At my old job, one of the things I loved doing was showing people how to turn up the intensity on their workout. Whether we were experimenting with fresh exercises, or I was helping a new exerciser take their fitness to the next level, showing folks how to change up their workout was a sure way to beat boredom and encourage results.
Sometimes all you need to bust through a fitness or weight loss plateau is one small change. Here are a few suggestions:
- Try a new class or activity: this seems like a no-brainer, but still, I think it bears repeating. We tend to get stuck in a rut with our workouts, doing the same warm-up, the same 30 minutes on the bike, the same sequence of strength training machines over, and over, and over. It’s boring, if you think about it, which you probably don’t. You just go through the motions, maintaining, but likely not improving. So, check out the class schedule and commit to trying something you’ve always been curious (read: scared) to try, or ask a trainer on duty to show you how to use that strange-looking machine you’ve always wondered about. Maybe even do the bike and then the elliptical, instead of the elliptical and then the bike. Whoa, crazy!
- Switch from machines to free weights: even if it’s just for a couple of exercises. Try doing lunges and donkey kicks instead of the quad/hamstring machines. Attempt a set of push-ups instead of the static chest press machine. Do lateral shoulder raises with free weights instead of on the seated, supported machine. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes. Just be sure to ask for a demonstration on correct form before you strike out on your own. You don’t want to hurt yourself.
- Add an incline to your walk/run: whether you walk on a treadmill or outdoors, see if you can mix it up by heading up. An incline will not only challenge your cardiovascular system, it also forces muscles to work harder. Obviously it’s easier to manipulate incline on a treadmill, but if you prefer to be outdoors, there are still options. Try a new route with more hills; a park or school with one big hill you can go up and down a few times works too. School tracks or stadiums with stairs will also do the trick.
- Give yourself a rest: this one seems counterintuitive, but if you are constantly going 100 percent, you might need to slow down a little bit. Don’t misunderstand, however. If you are doing the bare minimum, or you have fitness or health issues that keep your workouts pretty mellow already, it’s not likely you are working too hard. But if you are on a mission to lose weight or get in shape, you might be pushing your body to the limit without giving it time to recover. It’s important to keep your fitness routine well-rounded, including cardio, strength training, flexibility training, and even some meditation. So remember waaaay back during suggestion #1, when I said you should attend a new class? Maybe yoga, pilates, or meditation would be a good to try.
- Last but not least, is my good old friend high intensity interval training: check out this post about HIIT to get all the details.
So there you have it: a few quick and dirty tips to get yourself out of a rut, and jumpstart your workouts or weight loss. Oh, I just remembered, there is one other great way to bust through a plateau and demotivate: buy new shoes!
What are you waiting for?