Like I mentioned earlier I want to discuss boredom and plateaus within a workout program. 3 weeks into my Big Man on Campus workout, I began to feel as though I had stalled and nothing was going the way I wanted it to. There can be many reasons for this and some are listed below:
Your diet is affecting the workout (either all the time, or just on a particular day)
You are not allowing your body to rest and recover
You are not managing your weights per exercise well
You are bored with the same routine each week
While I wasn’t worried about my diet this particular time, there are several ways the diet can be fixed. When you are working out or lifting weights, pay attention to your energy levels and your weight level. If you find you are missing energy, or lifting less weight, take a quick look at what you ate that day and determine if was appropriate for the activity level you are trying to achieve. Chances are, your body just doesn’t have the resources like it did the other day, and you need to have a snack and tweak your meal plan.
After looking at your day, look at whether or not this is a common diet for you. Did you eat today like yesterday? If you are eating the same types of foods and still feeling less energetic or unable to perform, then it is time to reevaluate the meal plan you have set for your lifestyle. For a snapshot into eating right take a look at my plan.
The second item on the list is not having enough rest and recovery time. If you are working hard daily, your body will need to take time to rest and recovery. In a typical week you should lift 3 or 4 times, and do cardio 3 or 4 times. For me, I know my body and I can cut a day out of my week. I do 4 lift days and 2 cardio days. The reason for this is that I lift in a way that allows my muscles to rest after use. I lift chest on one day and for the rest of the week the muscles can rest while I run or lift other muscle groups. However, with all that said I too need a break. After about 4 weeks of lifting, my body asks for a day of rest. I take a day or two off, and then hit it again. These two days allow everything to reset and give my muscles a little extra rest. If you don’t add in the extra days of nothing, you run the risk of overtraining. The problem here is that you will slide backwards with result if you push beyond what the body is telling you.
Another fix to boredom or plateaus is to make sure you are pushing yourself and adjusting the weight you do. For example, I lift 80 pounds for 8 to 12 reps of bicep curls. Over the period of 3 sets I am unable to do a full 12. However the first week I did 10, 9 and 6. I am now doing 12, 11, 7 reps. While the weight is still the same, my strength has obviously increased. Next week I plan on lifting 12, 12 and 8 to 9. At that point I will raise the weight for the following week and be back to probably 10, 9 and 6- but that’s ok because my weight has changed. And even though I haven’t changed the weight, lets look at my total weight lifted week one compared to today. Week one- (80*10)+(80*9)+(80*6)= 2000 pounds lifted. Week 5- (80*12)+(80*11)+(80*7)= 2400 pounds lifted. So without ever changing the weight of the bar I have put my body through 400 pounds of extra work. Give yourself a range of reps to hit when lifting and you will automatically be adjusting the weight you lift each day and will avoid plateaus.
The final piece to my boredom and fear of plateau was that I was simply bored with the same routine week after week. I felt stale. What do we do when we know you have to stick with programs for at least 8 weeks to see real results? Just like taking a day off, give yourself a day to do something different. I took a cardio day and performed power yoga! I spent a day at the beginning of my workout week and took a class at Meyer’s Fitness. It was an incredible workout and I cant wait to go back. Another option, and one I love doing, is changing your cardio days. Some days I do long slow runs, some days I swim, some days I do HIIT and some days I combine techniques. This keeps me from being bored and always running for thirty minutes.
If you follow these suggestions I am willing to guarantee your results will increase and plateaus will be fewer and far between. I track my 1 repetition maximums and my body weight weekly. After adding these tips to my program I have seen my 1RM’s increase and body weight decrease. This mean I my strength is getting better and my body fat is falling!
Next New Year, New Program: Weigh ins! Tomorrow is weigh in day and its been two weeks so time for picture updates.