Part 2 of Beating A PLateau

Today is day 6 of 30 for the Situp/pushup challenge. Today’s number is 55. Remember to modify things if you need to, but try for 55 at once and if you need a break, only take a second or two, then push out the rest.

It is also the 22nd day of 365 straight days. 3 weeks down, 49 to go.

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Back to our topic of plateaus, last week I discussed the food side of things and today I want to touch on the exercise side of conquering a plateau. There are three ways to use exercise to erase a plateau. The first way is the easiest. Allowing the body to take a break will help muscles heal and become fresh for the next bout of exercise. Every 12 weeks or so, it is a good idea to take a single week off from working out. This means for seven days focus on cardio, stretching or active recovery (flag football, basketball, etc). Do not lift weights or do anything requiring muscle strength.

The second way to begin making gains again, can be accomplished in one of two ways. Changing your routine, or changing your set and rep counts can be effective in crushing a plateau.

When changing your routine you can work the same muscle groups, just be sure to use a new set of exercises. Each exercise in a routine works the muscles differently and changes angles on the muscles. By switching to a new set of exercises you will change how each muscle works and when performing new exercises some muscles will feel less strain and other will get more strain. These changes allow the muscles to work in a new way and compensate for their new “job”. This will force growth and gains will began to come back.

Another way to change your routine is to change the set and rep counts. Without changing your exercise selection, take a look at your current sets. Are you performing 3 sets of 10? If so a quick change would be to load up the weight and perform 10 sets of 3. This will force your muscles to lift a much heavier load, while still performing a total of 30 reps.

For my latest plateau, I have chosen to raise my caloric intake by 400 and change my routine completely. I am now eating 2600 calories a day, and am following a new workout plan. Today is chest, tricep and abs day. Incorporating the 30 day pushup challenge into my routine, today looked like this:

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  • 55 Pushups
  • Bench Press 4×9
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 3×9
  • Decline Barbell Press 3×9
  • Dips 4×9
  • Close Grip Barbell Press 4×9
  • 55 Crunches
  • Weighted Cable Crunch 2×9

Let me know if you have any questions or comments on the workouts and the plateau fixes.
Keep working hard and enjoying the workouts! And always finish with a quality shake!

Beating a Plateau and Friday Link Up

Today is day 19 of the 365 day challenge. Today is also the 3rd day of the Situp/Pushup 30 day Challenge. Today’s number is 50. For my workout I plan on doing 50 pushups, followed by 50 situps, and then running 1.57 miles (the PRT route at flight school).

Now that we have covered the 30 day challenge, I would to talk a little bit about plateaus in training. Over the past couple of weeks I have not gained or lost any and I feel as though my strength progress has slowed and I would like to try and rev up my training again. To bust through the wall, and start climbing again, I have a few tips.

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The first tip is to rotate your protein source. A lot of people bulking or cutting get into a routine and because it is easy and they can monitor there calories, they eat the same thing daily. Every morning they have oatmeal, eggs, and a banana. After their workout they drink a protein shake. After a while the body needs a change. I have recently switched to a raw protein and have spent the week using Sun Warrior. I will go back to my advocare supplements on Monday. If your meat of choice has been chicken, begin to consider eating beef, pork, and/or adding greek yogurt to your diet.

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Sticking with the diet, I also believe in adjusting your calorie intake to help with plateaus. I advise against lower the calories you are currently eating. The reason for this is because if you are losing weight, you are already eating a low calorie diet. If you are lifting to gain, you will lose weight if you lower your count. I advise on using the calculation in my All Foods Are Equal article and eating strictly enough calories to maintain your current weight. Then after two weeks return to eating the number calculated for your goal.

In my case I am raising my intake from 2200 calories a day to 2600 calories a day. After two weeks I will reassess my progress and update you on the decisions made and how they were made.

There are three other options for breaking through the plateaus of training and they all involve adjustments to your workout routine. Monday I will lay these techniques out and I will update my routine as well. Throughout the weekend I will update the website with the situp/pushup challenge.

Weigh-in Day

So this morning, Sunday, was weigh-in day. There was good news and bad news. First the bad news, well that’s exaggerating. The “bad news” is that I gain 0.8 pounds. The reason I say this is exaggerated and therefore not really bad, is because while it moves me away from my goals, it happens to everyone during the course of a weight loss program. Sometimes the body plateaus and needs a to hold on to a little extra. Another reason this is a little exaggerated is because I did not follow my calories last Sunday.

Last Sunday was Superbowl Sunday! I watched how much I ate, but I did not regulate what I ate. I ate bacon wraps, dessert bars, hamburgers, chips and salsa, veggies and spinach dip and some wine and beer. As you can see just one of each of those items would put me over half my daily calories, and by the evening I have less than 1/4 of my caloric intake left for dinner. Between Sunday and Monday, I weighed in Tuesday, I went up to 181.

So now the good news. I went up to 181, but lost 3 pounds and dropped to 178. So despite a huge gain early in the week, I maintained focus and dropped the extra weight. This morning I used my calipers and calculated my body fat. This week I am down to 10.5%.

So at the end of 7 weeks I am down 11 pounds and weigh 178. I am down 4% body fat and am at 10.5%. I have 5 weeks left in phase one! Next week is a full measurement and weigh in with pictures.

Bored?

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.