Avoid a Fitness Plateau
- Switch it Up: Your body is an efficient machine and it readily adapts to consistent, predictable demands. To avoid plateauing, frequently update your routine by adding new exercises and switching out the old. Try jump roping instead of stair climbing. Do push-ups instead of the bench press. You can also prevent a fitness rut by varying the intensity and duration of your favorite exercises. For instance, try running at a faster speed for a shorter duration; or, change your running route to include hills. Cross-training is also an effective method for navigating a fitness plateau because the variety eliminates boredom. It also optimizes muscle development because your muscles have to respond to the change in demands brought on by a new exercise mode.
- Make it Social: Exercising with others prevents boredom and provides motivation. Join a team sport, group fitness class or dance club. Or, recruit family members and friends to go in on hiring a personal trainer for small-group training sessions in your own home. This option not only makes your training session social, it's cheaper than hiring a personal trainer for individual sessions.
- Go Tech: Technology can keep you fit and inspired. There are numerous smart phone apps and online fitness programs that can help you stay on track by offering virtual and peer support, fitness tips from internet health professionals and personal health tracking tools, such as BMI and calorie calculators. Pedometers and GPS units are other effective gadgets for overcoming a fitness plateau.
- Mind Your Meals: What you eat can have a direct effect on your motivation. A poor diet can make you feel sluggish and too tired to exercise. Avoid refined carbohydrate and sugary foods such as cookies, donuts, chips and soda pop. Include complex carbohydrate sources instead, such as oatmeal, beans, and whole-grain pastas. Add protein from chicken, tuna fish, nuts and legumes.
- Think Before You Drink: Alcohol interferes with muscle gain when consumed in excess. It impairs the blood flow to your muscles, decreases testosterone, facilitates the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and can lead to increased body fat stores. It can also result in dehydration, which impairs exercise performance. Caffeine can also lead to dehydration and, therefore, should be consumed in moderation as well. Both alcohol and caffeine can interfere with sleep. An adequate amount of quality sleep (about 7 to 8 hours per night) is needed so that your body can heal and repair itself from the demands of exercise and day-to-day tasks. Try drinking ice water with a bit of lemon juice for flavor or sparkling water to quench your thirst instead.
American Council on Exercise Fit Facts
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