Never Hit Another Workout Plateau – Ever!

Pre-Workout Food 5-6-13

Make one or more of these 5 simple changes today to your fitness and/or weight loss plan and overcome any workout plateaus that come your way! Most people wonder why they hit walls in their workout and weight loss programs and don’t know that there are simple fixes to most of these obstacles. Here are 5 simple changes to overcome these speed bumps on your way to success.

1. Eat at least an hour before your workout

Most times people hit walls due to a lack of proper macronutrients. Low blood sugar dramatically alters your workout. For example, if your energy stores are depleted, it’s difficult to get a quality workout. Think of it like driving your vehicle for an hour with your gas light on and don’t have enough fuel to get you to your destination. Many people think that if You don’t consume food before a work out, you will be burning more fat; however, this isn’t necessarily the case. If your body lacks carbohydrates for immediate energy, it will either utilize protein or possibly your muscles and fat to make up the difference for your metabolism.

There are alternatives to this such as eating the night before you complete a morning workout or eating a larger amount of carbohydrates earlier in the day to fuel you for a workout later in the day. The trick is to just properly plan!

2. Don’t forget to foam roll, stretch, and warm-up before each workout

If your muscles are already tight before you start working out, then how are you going to get the most out each workout? It is best to not only foam roll first. Then, stretch and lengthen your muscle fibers before you warm up your muscles and begin any workout. This will ensure that you get full elasticity out of your muscle fibers and increase full range of motion around your joints. Foam rolling and stretching also assists in reducing your risk for injury. Not sure what a foam roller is or how to use it? Check out my recent blog on the importance of using a Foam Roller.

3. Use the F. I. T. T. E. Principles to Get More Fit

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Frequency – You can dramatically improve your results by just changing how often you do a workout for specific muscle group or cardio routine over week. I usually recommend working each muscle group at least twice a week with proper rest days in between to see any change in strength, endurance, or body composition.

Intensity – You can change the intensity of a workout by doing any of the following:

  • Amount of Weight – usually expressed in lb. or kg. and/or in percentage of your 1 repetition max.
  • Heart Rate – this method is used more for judging the intensity of a cardiovascular exercise

Time – Probably the simplest thing to change is the time you commit to an exercise. Adding just 5 minutes a day to each week of cardio can add up to over 30 more minutes of cardio a week. It may not seem like much, but adding 5 minutes each week over the course of a month can add up to an extra two hours a week. If you don’t believe in compounding then look at your last few credit card statements to see how quickly small increments add up over a short period of time.

Type – There are many ways to change an exercise type to increase or decrease the intensity. Here are just a few examples:

  • The Type of Equipment can drastically change an exercise: dumbbells, barbells, cables, machines, TRX suspension straps, Bosu balls, and resistance bands. Each of these types can change where and how long a muscle is under tension.
  • Stable to Unstable – Start with an exercise with two feet then the following set, try it on one foot. Not hard enough? Jump on a bosu ball, then progress to a single leg on a bosu ball. Still too easy? Then go apply to the circus!

Enjoyment – If you don’t enjoy something, how likely are you going to do it? Not very is the most common answer to this question. If you are getting bored with your workouts, switch it up. Hate running on a treadmill? Run outside. Not an option due to weather? Then have fun with your cardio indoors. Need more motivation? Every other song walk backwards at a slower pace, skip, side shuffle, jump off the machine or sidewalk. Do a few pushups or squats, then hop back on. Life is too short not to enjoy and make the most out of our most valuable asset we can’t get back – Time!

4. Track Your Progress

One of our biggest challenges in making any changes to our lives is a simple lack of accountability. If you are spending more money than you are making, then it will hard for you to ever get ahead. The same logic applies to your fitness and weight loss program. If you can’t identify problems, how can you ever create solutions? I’ve seen most people struggle with this since becoming a personal trainer over 5 years ago. Here are some simple suggestions I recommend to all my clients:

  • Get a notebook. Start writing only what you eat/drink, how many minutes of cardio/resistance training you do everyday.
  • Once you’ve been doing this for a week or two, then start tracking calories, portion sizes, and water intake.
  • After you have mastered the previous two, then add in sodium, protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Know your own limitations! We all have them and there will be plenty of roadblocks that will come up along the way. If your goal is to lose more than 1 to 2 pounds each week, then you be prepared for the amount of time, energy, and even money it may take you to get there. While I have had many clients lose 90-100 pounds in only 6 months, it requires proper preparation of food every day/week, scheduling in daily workouts and/or cardio, and sticking to your guns when people or old habits try and tempt you to cheat.

 

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The Most Valuable Tool in the Gym That You’ve Never Heard Of

Foam Roller - The Most Valuable Tool in the Gym

Since first becoming a trainer, one of the very first things I learned about was probably one of the most important that I teach as often as possible with my clients their first day in the gym. Before studying to for my first personal training certification, I’d never heard of this amazing tool ever. Most people have seen this tool sitting in the corner of their local gym or at sports stores, but walked right by it without ever having any clue the amazing benefits it has to offer. The miracle tool I’m referring to is called a Foam Roller.

What is a Foam Roller and why is it so beneficial you ask?

A foam roller is a form of Self Myofascial Release (SMR) or in simpler terms a form of self massage therapy utilizing your own body weight to apply pressure to tight or over active muscles.  While at first when using this simple, yet effective tool your first inclination will be this is extremely painful and to get off it as fast as you possibly can, I will explain why you should stay put for a minute. Most people are familiar with static or corrective stretching, but don’t realize that in order to get the most out of your stretches you need to break up adhesions in your muscles or which are also known as ‘knots” before you can properly lengthen your elasticity of your muscle fibers completely.

I will briefly break this down a little further to help you understand why you should go out and buy one or find one the next time you visit your local gym. Your muscles are composed of two mechanoreceptors or sensory receptors. The first type is called muscles spindles and the second is referred to as Golgi Tendon Organs (GTO’s). Muscle spindles are receptors responsible for keeping your muscles from over lengthening and the rate at which your muscles lengthen. Golgi tendon organs deal with force production and work to prevent you from placing excessive stress on muscles, which can lead to injury.

How do you use this magical tool?

Let’s start with you lining yourself up on the foam roller finding a tight spot on your body such as your legs. Then, using gentle pressure roll up or down the leg keeping the foam roller over a muscle, not a joint to reduce your risk of injuring yourself. Next, find a tender spot and then just stop and hold pressure on that spot for a minimum of 30 seconds. It may take longer, if you tense up due to the pain so make sure to focus on controlling your breathing and relax to allow your muscle to release. Finally, once you have finished torturing yourself and breaking up all that tightness you didn’t even know existed take a minute to then stretch and lengthen out your muscle spindles.

When is the best time to use self myofascial release?

I suggest foam rolling before your start your warm-up and workout to get optimal results. You may roll out after your workout during your cool-down as well as needed. There are many other forms of fascial release, but I recommend if you are first starting to begin with a foam roller. I will be posting video tutorials on how to properly use a foam roller and other simple tools around the house or gym soon.

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