Going hard at the gym and still not seeing the results you crave? Hitting a plateau is majorly frustrating, especially when you're being consistent with your exercise routine and diet.
You might feel like giving up, but don't! In fact, your stagnation period could be the best thing that's ever happened to your workout program. It's a great opportunity to reassess where you're at and what you need to improve upon.
Here's how you can step it up in the gym, so you can get back in the game and start seeing the results you deserve.
1. Train Less
Sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. "Go hard or go home" is actually more detrimental to your progress (not to mention your health) than going gentle and staying home. Training too hard causes stress in the body, which does a number to your hormones, ultimately training your body to retain fat. If you're super exhausted or stressed, don't work out and, instead, take a rest day. Rest days allow for optimal muscle growth and let your nervous system get back to tip top shape for your next gym day.
2. Mix It Up
You might love your Zumba, but doing the same workout over and over again will eventually stop your fitness level from progressing. This doesn't mean you have to quit your favorite exercise activity altogether -- just find something else that you can focus on in addition to it. If you'd like more muscle tone, add a strengthening segment to your gym routine. Want stronger abs? Sign up for a weekly Pilates class. Mixing up your fitness routine every four to six weeks will ensure your bod is constantly being challenged.
3. Lift Heavier Weights
If you're sticking to the same tried-and-true weights whenever you lift at the gym, it's time for a change. Even if you increase your weights by five pounds, any change will make a significant difference to your body composition. Try to increase your weights every two to three weeks and ensure you're doing at least three sets of 8-10 reps. Don't want to, or can't, lift heavy? Increase your reps and/or sets. No matter what, finish strong!
4. Change Your Eating Habits
It's true -- abs are made in the kitchen. You can work out hard everyday in the gym, but if you aren't eating right, you won't see a six-pack, or any significant changes in your weight and muscle tone for that matter. Sometimes we overeat after a workout, or sometimes we're not eating enough of the good stuff. Either way, it's important to keep track of what you're eating, keeping your diet clean as much as possible, getting enough protein, and watching your portion size.
5. Work Out With a Friend
Working out with a buddy reaps fantastic results. Not only will a friend help keep you accountable for your fitness goals, but there's also the competitive component that will rev up your workout. Just make sure to choose a friend who wants the results as much as you do -- if not more so -- to make the workout effective and intense.
Following the above tips will help improve your next sweat session, so that you'll achieve the results you desire. Above all else, remember that you are doing better than you think you are. Sometimes we can't see how far we've come because we're too focused on what we haven't changed. Don't forget to celebrate the small victories too!
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