We have all been there, your diet seems healthy and your workouts seem to be going well, but your body seems to have stalled and you are seeing no workout results. No matter how religiously you are sticking to your diet and fitness plan the results are almost non existent.
Soul destroying? Yes.
Easy to fix? Absolutely.
The reason why many of us stop seeing results in our workouts, is because of our body's amazing ability to adapt to what we throw at it. For example a 10kg barbell curl may have been an effort when we first started using it, but six weeks later and it doesn’t even leave us out of breath. The secret is to keep changing things in our workouts, from the speed of your workout, to the order of your exercises.
Many gyms would jump at the chance at giving you a complementary workout review, but if you want to go it alone, let me share with you a few tips that may help you leave your body guessing and see your muscles working with gusto!!
1. DROP THE WEIGHT! INCREASE THE REPS
Yep, you heard me right.
The average women who simply wants to tone up may be prescribed 3 set of 12-15 reps, fantastic, initially. But over time our bodies adapt and meet the challenge without a hitch (leading to it failing to change). You can of course increase the weight, but if that doesn’t suit you, why not simply increase the repetitions, challenging your muscles to increase their endurance.
Keep your mind strong and pump them out. If it isn’t challenging of course, up the weight but see how you go with this.
Example: 3 sets of 20 - 25 reps
2. SPEED IT UP OR SPEED IT DOWN
This is an absolutely crucial factor. Test it out for yourself, lift your regular weight at a slower or speedier pace. For example on a seated press lift your regular or a heavier weight for a count of 2 seconds and lower for 2 seconds (unless you are used to doing this of course).
Exert balanced control, ensuring the movement is at the same tempo throughout the exercise.
Example: Bicep Curl or Seated Press
3. PRE-EXHAUST YOUR MUSCLES
Depending on our experience in the gym, many of us are prescribed compound exercises followed by isolating exercises. For example, one would first perform squats, which employ a group of muscles prior to isolation or individual muscle exercises such as leg extensions, and this works great.
However when you have mastered these exercises, reverse the order. By performing the fine tuning, isolating exercises before the compound exercises you will introduce a new challenge to your muscels resulting in greater gains.
Example: Leg extension prior to a seated press exercise
4. RANGE OF MOVEMENT
Think of general muscle contraction as being made up of 3 separate segments, each which corresponds to the range of movement of the exercise i.e. the start, a middle and the end.
Every bit of our individual muscle needs to be exercised. An example of this would be a classic bicep barbell curl.
Ideally I would have my clients with their back against the wall (to prevent momentum from sneaking in), they would then lower the weight by fully extending the forearm, whereby exploring all of their range of movement of the muscle and returning it to contact the shoulder. This will challenge every bit of the muscle, from the large belly to the tendons exercising the whole of the muscle.
Many people make the mistake of lifting a weight too heavy and thereby actually not being able to do this. For longer and leaner muscles which most of my clients focus on, this is critical. After all, it is the initial start of the lift, i.e. the first portion of the muscle contraction that is often the most difficult.
By avoiding training all your muscle you are at risk of developing the belly of the muscle without paying sufficient attention the the tendons which may result in injury.
Example: Barbell Bicep Curl
That old chestnut, it weasels its way in, taking us to so many places, both good and bad.
At the gym it often detracts us from the real focus. Our bodies often start to use it when we are tired, so be strong and concentrate on what you are doing, not on how exhausted your muscles are. And remember, increasing a weight may be great for our ego ,but it can be very counterproductive and even lead to injury.
Visualise and really focus your mind on the muscles you are trying to work, and of course use great technique, ensuring momentum will not stand a look in.
Example : A Bicep curl with a weight too heavy will force you to recruit other muscles to lift it, resulting in momentum.
Be more realistic and fine tune the muscles you want, not the ones that just come along when things get difficult. I have only touched on these topics, but these 5 changes are easy to implement into any workout. Try it, it will refresh your workout for your mind as well as your body.
Yours in Wellness