We’ve all heard of the dreaded workout “plateau” but do we know how to avoid it? There are many different variables in every workout program that you can change to help avoid hitting that plateau and help your body continue to see the benefits of physical activity. The four basic areas in which you can change your workout come from the acronym F.I.T.T. – Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type.
The body reacts differently to the different stimuli that you provide it. By changing that stimuli, you help the body avoid adaptation, thus continuing to achieve results.
Frequency – Changing the days you workout or how often
Intensity – Increasing weight when lifting, adding cardio intervals into your program, change your sets and reps to challenge your muscles in different ways and different energy systems
Time – Length of workouts; can work in conjunction with Frequency, try working out more days for less time, or less days for longer
Type – Change the style of cardio you choose (treadmill vs. bike), try a new fitness class, or learn a new piece of equipment
Remember, change is a good thing.
Inspiration comes in many forms, for me music is a huge motivator. I’ve always been a musically inclined person, even if I didn’t know it. I started in elementary school playing the recorder, graduated to the clarinet for junior and senior high school, and I still play the clarinet today, mind you not nearly as well anymore. I have always been able to feel and move to the beat of the song but don’t be mistaken, I dance like Elaine from “Seinfeld”. There I go dating myself again.
Music is an expression of feeling or mood, even an expression of identity for some. I have several playlists that I listen to when working out, and they’re all based what my program of the day consists of as well as the mood I am in walking into my workout. I edit my playlists about once a month to update my motivation and keep from overplaying these delightful gems.
When I want to hit the cardio hard, I focus on pop music, whether it’s current top 40 or from another generation all together, if it makes me smile and want to dance, it makes the cut. This week’s current cardio-killer favorites include Justin Timberlake’s “Cant Stop The Feeling”, Will.I.Am and Britney Spears “Scream & Shout”, Nicki Manaj “Super Bass”, and Men Without Hats “Safety Dance”. Love them or hate them my friends, but they make me smile and move a little bit faster.
Weight lifting/resistance training is a completely different beast for me. My focus and mindset changes, as I suddenly have to pay close attention to my posture and form as well as breathing and core engagement. With so many more factors to be considered, I need something rock to focus.. My favorite lifting anthems right now include Rise Against “Prayer Of The Refugee”, Metallica “Better Than You”, and Social Distortion “Story Of My Life”.
Cool down and stretching are important components of fitness that are forgotten or skipped quite frequently. I have made my self an amazing chill playlist to enjoy at the end of my workout to inspire me to stay those five minutes longer and work on my balance, range of motion, and relaxation. Current favorites include The Gaslight Anthem’s “Bring It On”, Pearl Jam’s “Release”, and Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.
I’m pretty passionate about both wellness and music, so I’m elated that the two can go hand in hand for me. I feel like my musical tastes are a part of me and I’m happy to share a snippet of myself in the form of musical identity with you. Take the time to build a stellar playlist. Keep a list in your “notes” app on your phone of songs you hear and decide you love so you can download and add it later. Something that makes you want to dance, sing and have a great time. It’ll brighten up your day, kick up the intensity in your workout, and leave you feeling refreshed and in a better mood walking out of the gym.
Shake it Off!
Fitness isn’t necessarily what it used to be. Fitness is a word that brings specific images to mind and for a lot of us, that’s a very specific image of the roots of the word fitness: leg warmers, spandex, and more spandex. Changing the idea of what fitness is has come over time but it looks like we’re going in a good direction, changing that image to one of overall Wellness. That wellness comes from five different aspects:
Cardiovascular Endurance – Conditioning of the cardiovascular system in the body. The ability to deliver oxygen and nutrients to tissues, and take waste materials away for a sustained period of time Example – biking, running, swimming
Muscular Strength – The maximum force that a muscle can deliver force in in one repetition
Muscular Endurance – The ability of a muscle to deliver force over a sustained period of time
Flexibility – The movement of a muscle around a joint in a full Range of Motion (ROM). Important to note: flexibility is different from stretching, stretching actually increases flexibility
Body Composition – The body’s make up of lean muscle, bone, fat mass, and tissues/organs. The ratio of these masses in the body is considered your body composition
So remember that fitness is more than spandex and leg-warmers. It’s about our overall wellness, including our cardiovascular and muscular systems, lifestyle, sleep and eating patterns.
Let’s be well.
Not all Fat is Created Equal.
There are two main types of body fat found in our bodies. Ironically, we tend to focus on subcutaneous body fat, which is the softer fat found beneath the skin. This is the fat that we can grab with our hands or skin-fold calipers. Subcutaneous fat is less damaging as it is superficial (closer to the surface), and is less likely to result in major health issues. Visceral fat is the unseen fat in your body. It is found deeper inside the body, around your internal organs. It’s a harder fat and has been linked directly to chronic diseases like heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and some cancers. Visceral fat hides well beneath the surface, we don’t see it, most people don’t know about it, and it’s the body fat we should actually be more concerned about.
Lucky for our health, visceral fat tends to be targeted first during weight loss. Unlucky for our esthetics, the subcutaneous fat we all see is targeted second.
Wellness Comes in All Shapes and Sizes
We’re all wonderfully unique. It needs to be known that fitness doesn’t look like anyone or anything in specific. We all have a “best” version of ourselves, and we can’t ask for any more than that. In this delicious fruit bowl we call life, the three basic body shapes are apple, pear and banana.
Apples – you are identified by the majority of your body fat stored in your mid-section. This puts you at the highest risk of visceral fat accumulation, as well as the health risks associated with that.
Pears – you are identified by an accumulation of subcutaneous fat around the hips, buttocks and thighs. Not to say that you shouldn’t be concerned with visceral fat within your body, you are simply at a lower risk than your friend the apple.
Bananas – you are identified by your long and lean frame. Don’t be fooled with the lack of subcutaneous fat, visceral fat may still exist but hidden deep and unseen on your body.
Where your body carries weight naturally can be a factor in determining a lot of things for you. What doesn’t change is how to work with and manage your body type. Put down the junk food and grab an apple, pear, or banana – and get moving!
In an article on the Prevention website, writer Emily Main takes a look at the nutritional value of canned foods and what they are really doing to you:
“Looking for a quick, easy dinner? Crack open a can of soup, and pour yourself a heaping helping of kidney problems. According to a new study published in the journal Kidney International, the chemical used to manufacture the linings of food cans could be harming your kidneys. Oh, and increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease at the same time.”
Read The Truth About Canned Foods on the Prevention website.
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