Changing up your workout occasionally is great for keeping things fresh and preventing you from hitting a plateau. However, some of us have limited equipment or a limited knowledge of different exercises. Here is a list of ways you can change it up without having to figure out a new routine.
Weight: This may seem obvious, but I see many people moving the same weight every time they workout. Over time the body acclimates to this activity and you no longer make progress. A good rule of thumb is to increase the weight by 2.5 to 5 pounds for upper body and 5 to 10 pounds for lower body every week to 2 weeks.
Repetitions: Been doing 3 sets of 10 for 3 sets for the last 10 years? Try increasing the number of repetitions at your current weight or adding some weight and decreasing the number of reps. Regardless of the weight and reps you should feel like you only have a few reps left in the tank at the end of each set if not, see number 1 above.
Sets: Just like increasing or decreasing reps, you can always add a set or three to increase your overall workout volume.
Tempo: What the heck is that? Tempo is the pace at which you move the weight. Next time you do bicep curls, take a slightly lighter weight than you normally use and do a 3 count on the way up and a 3 count on the way down and see how that feels. What this does is increases the time that your muscle spends under tension, causing more damage, which results in muscle building. You can even throw a pause in the middle of your lift (at the bottom of your squat for example). Conversely, you can drop the weight and work at being more explosive in your actions. This causes the brain to get a lot more involved in what you’re doing which can increase reaction time and coordination.
Rest: The amount a rest you take can change the effort you can put into the next set. Less recovery results in muscle building. More recovery results in strength gains. This is a bit of an oversimplification because the weight and reps you use will also factor in here. The basic rule of thumb: moderate weight, moderate reps, short rest (:30-:1:00) for muscle building and high weight, low reps, long rest (2:00-5:00) for strength gains.
Order: Change the order of your workout, pair up different exercises, make a circuit. All of these can freshen up your routine and make it feel totally different.
These are just a few of the changes you can make to your workout to get you out of your comfort zone and break through a plateau.
See you at the gym!
This blog post has been rolling around in my head since January. Every time I decided it was time to sit down and finally put it on paper, something else would come up and I would put it on the back burner. It's not like that "something else" was always important, unless one considers finishing the fifth season of Dexter really important. It was just that, in that moment, I lost the motivation to write.
The Hard Truth
The truth is that motivation is fleeting and we often use lack of "motivation" or its cousin "will-power" as excuses for not doing something. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition and exercise. To put it very simply, motivation is great but it's not always enough. Sometimes it just takes discipline. I'm sure what you expect to follow is a list of tips and tricks to help keep you motivated to hit the weights, treadmill, pavement....whatever. Nope. That stuff has been covered ad nauseum. What I am offering are the things to remember when all those tricks have failed.
You Have to Exercise
Exercise is not a luxury, it is a necessity. That's it, plain and simple. If you aren't in the habit of exercising regularly, then you really cannot afford to skip a day or two of your routine. It is too easy for two days to become three and for three to become four. Unfortunately, there is no realistic formula to determine how long it takes for a habit to form (too many variables). You just have to become so regular at exercising that your body tells you when you have missed too many days. The good news is that the changes you are hoping for often happen while you're getting yourself into your new habit. The more changes you experience, the less you will have to fight yourself to keep at it.
Your Future Health Depends on It
This is WHY you have to exercise. Although an admirable goal, looking good in your shortie shorts just doesn't cut it as a motivator sometimes. I've been there. I've searched through racks of clothes looking for something that would hide my slowly growing muffin-top because I had decided to accept it. What I really, really couldn't accept was the fact that at 38 years old I could not physically handle my two hour daily commute. I began considering how I felt then and how the coming years would compound those feelings if I did nothing. It scared the bejeezus out of me.
Think about it. Think about having to use your PTO for sick days instead of vacation because of illnesses and injuries related to inactivity and poor nutritoin. Think about all the money you will spend on medications, co-pays, special equipment, etcettera to deal with those illnesses and injuries. Think about not being able to pick up or get down on the floor to play with your future grandchildren. Think about the constant fear of falling and breaking a hip. I'm really not trying to be a downer here, but think about it. Is this what you want your future to look like?
You Deserve It
When all else fails, this is the final, absolute truth. You DESERVE the benefits of exercise and proper nutrition. You deserve a stronger heart, sturdier bones, and a more clever brain. You deserve muscles that will power you through the rest of your life with confidence. You deserve to be steady on your feet and have the flexibility to bend over and tie your shoes. You have earned the right to feel as good as possible, at this moment, with the body that you have.
Next time you feel tempted to skip a day because motivation took a vacation, keep in mind that even people who exercise regularly aren't always motivated to do it. I have had to talk myself into and through workouts on more occasions than I care to admit, BUT I have never been disappointed that I did. In fact, as a former couch potato, those are the times when I am most proud of myself.
Just remember, you have to exercise because your future depends on it and you deserve it. Good Luck!
Testing...one...two...three...Is this thing on?
I never thought two years ago that I would be sitting here getting ready to offer advice and guidance to anyone on fitness and nutrition. It's been a little crazy around here and a bit of a whirlwind. So I guess the best place to start is with the name. After all what's in a name? For me everything.
For those who don't know, sojourn is another word for journey and the perfect word to describe my last couple of years. I started on this journey with the very modest desire of not feeling so old anymore. My lack of physical activity and long commute was wreaking havoc on my body and my energy. At the same time my better half really wanted to get back into training for triathlons and talked me into joining a gym with him. And then he started bugging me about doing a triathlon with him. For those of you who don't know me, and I'm hoping it's most of you because otherwise it's just my friends and family giving me a sympathy read (love you guys!), I am not a runner. Or at least I wasn't. It's amazing how things change. Six or seven triathlons, a 1/2 Marathon, and a couple other events later I finally get to call myself something that I never thought I would be...athlete. But that isn't the end of the journey, because that path led to another.
After a year of training for races and creating off-season workouts for my husband and I, he mentioned that I seemed to really enjoy doing it and that maybe I should consider becoming a personal trainer. Is anyone starting to notice a theme here? I kind of toyed with the idea of getting a spin instructors certification or something of that nature, then the layoffs started at my job. Although I made it through the first round, it was clear that things weren't exactly looking up. This meant it was likely I would have to put on my monkey suit and convince yet another employer that I really do have the skills they are looking for. Ugh! So my husband and I put together a plan in which we would stash a bunch of money in savings for several months then I would leave my job and go through a six month personal training certification program. Two months later I was laid off. Sometimes destiny calls and sometimes she just slaps you in the face.
I started the program early and immediately fell in love! This is where everything came full circle for me. We were having a class discussion on what we would expect to see in a personal trainer and appearance, specifically a physically fit appearance, became a point of discussion. There were differing opinions and then my instructor made a fantastic point. What if a trainer is noticeably overweight? But what if that trainer was also 100 lbs lighter than they were a year ago? His point was this, you never know where someone is in their journey so you should not rush to judge. Slap!!
So here it is, I don't believe everyone is on the same journey and I don't believe everyone has the same destination. I think too many people get stuck on what they look like or what they think they should look like and it really doesn't matter. The real question is did you do something today to make your bones, your heart, and your lungs stronger? Did you nourish your body today? Did you do something to engage your brain? That is all I want. I just want to help make everyone's journey just a little healthier and by doing that, maybe a little happier.