Exercise is a great way to get the body moving, keep the mind sharp and ensure our overall wellbeing is in check. But if you’re working out for a particular goal, then you might notice your progress begin to slow down, or even plateau at some point.
If you find this happening, don’t worry. All you need to do is make some small tweaks to your training - just enough to give the body a little shock and shove it back into gear. Stuck for ideas? Check these out...
1 Switch up your style
We can all be creatures of habit when it comes to working out. Once we get stuck in that routine, it’s hard to break out of the comforts of knowing what to expect from a workout, who will be instructing the classes we take and even how challenging the workout will be.
But here’s the catch. If we don’t break out of these comfort zones from time to time, then our bodies also fall into these comfort zones - and when we’re not pushing ourselves, we’re not changing ourselves.
Switching up the style of workout you’re used to doing every couple of months can shock the body and challenge it in new ways that’ll produce results. Avid cardio bunny? Try some weights-based workouts. And vice versa - if you’re usually into heavy lifting, why not opt for some HIIT classes to work the body in new ways? Don’t worry, you don’t need to ditch the workouts you know and love altogether, just switch out one or two sessions a week. Who knows, you might just find your next workout match.
2 Go hard or go home
Killing yourself at the gym doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best workout. But really pushing yourself in an efficient workout? That’s when you’re really making it count. When we’re used to doing the same classes week in, week out, it’s easy to coast through the session without realising.
Next time you’re doing a workout you know inside out, make sure you’ve checked in mentally and hold yourself accountable for doing a little more than last time. Whether that’s one more rep, lifting a heavier weight or performing at a higher intensity than you’re used to - it all makes a difference.
3 Take a break
With the above point being made, it’s also just as important to listen to your body and know when it’s time to slow down or even take a complete break. If exercise is really engrained into your lifestyle, it can feel strange to rest for longer than a day or two at a time, but giving yourself the mental and physical break could help to rev your body back into gear.
If you’re overtraining on a totally burnt out body, your hormones will be completely out of whack, stunting any progress. Look for the signs that you’re in need of a rest: constantly feeling tired but finding it difficult to sleep, unusually hungry all the time, unable to perform as well as usual in a workout and, of course, not seeing results despite putting in the work.
4 Reassess your sleep
So we know the importance of rest in terms of results and progress, but what about sleep in particular? If you think you can get away with little sleep and survive purely off coffee, think again. Sending your body’s cortisol levels soaring by doing this will only negatively affect your progress in the long run. It might seem like you’re doing fine just by getting the workouts done, but not allowing your body the quality deep sleeps it needs daily means it won’t have the sufficient time to repair, rebuild and turn your efforts into results.
Not only should you aim for a good seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night, but making sure this is of a high quality is just as important. Try to unwind properly before you hit the hay; avoiding electronics an hour before bed, finishing your final meal at least two hours before you settle down and ensuring your bedroom is a peaceful sanctuary free from stress.
5 Upgrade your warm-up
Warming up before a workout is not only important to avoid injury and to help you get in the zone, but it’ll also ensure you’re able to work out more effectively. Stronger, faster, harder - better!
Your warm-up should always reflect the exercise you’re about to take part in. Working the same planes of motions at a lower intensity is a must, which will also help in slowly bringing the heart rate up. If there are muscle groups in the body that you know need more work, why not get to the gym or your class a little early to give them the kickstart they need? For example, many of us have underactive glutes, so using a glute band to perform glute bridges, kickbacks and clamshells before class will help you to engage those glutes during the workout. Your whole body will thank you.