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.
The answer varies greatly, depending on your fitness goals. Long, steady-state cardio provides many health benefits including lower blood pressure, stress relief, lower cholesterol, increased lung and heart capacity, increased endurance and general well-being.
If better overall health is your goal, steady state running, swimming, biking, walking, etc. will enable you to reach that goal. If you want to change your body composition and/or lose weight, higher intensity, shorter workouts are much more effective. The key is the high intensity – as long as you are working hard enough (i.e. you NEED to have your mouth open to breath), you can get a very effective workout in as little as 16 minutes. Classes such as Interval Blast, HEAT and Metabolic Conditioning all offer a high intensity workout that will help you achieve these goals. Alternatively, a personal trainer can also give you this kind of workout and will ensure that you work hard enough to reach those goals.
Next time you go for a run, add some sprinting intervals – 20-30 seconds per interval is a good guideline.
When the weather turns iffy, getting to the gym can help you stay on track with your workouts, especially if you get involved in a variety of activities. Avoid doing the same machines each time you go, but take advantage of all the activities in your facility–swimming, fitness classes, personal trainers, machines, weight loss programs, etc. The more variety you have, the easier it will be to stick to your program. Even if you gravitate to certain cardio machines, you can always change things up with interval training by adding bursts of HIGH INTENSITY every few minutes to blast more fat and calories resulting in a fitter body and happy healthy mind.
Making fitness stick is all about momentum (among other things), so if you’re a beginner, start with about 3 days a week. Do more if you can, but always start where you are, rather than where you want to be. Ease your body and your mind into your new exercise schedule to minimize the fallout and add on as you get settled in. Always set realistic goals that you can attain and then add-on from there once you have accomplished and mastered your first activities.
Tips to Get Started:
- Go with a friend that loves their club so you have a feeling of belonging right away
- Sign up for a free orientation of YMCA to build confidence and knowledge
- Stop putting things off and decide today to do it
- Be open to everything and attached to nothing (try new things)
- Choose results not excuses and you will always be successful
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