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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Overcome Workout Plateaus

A plateau typically is the direct consequence of a fitness rut – when an exerciser performs the same workout over and over. The human body is very efficient and quickly adapts to work. Once the body practices the same activity repeatedly, it grows more proficient at performing those moves. So that means it requires less energy and therefore also burns less calories.

Instead of celebrating their body’s improved fitness capabilities, exercisers often abandon their workouts. And who can blame them? After all, they no longer are seeing the results they desire and become increasingly bored with their workouts. Plus, hitting a plateau not only can halt fitness gains, but it can even reverse previous successes. But, with just a few simple steps exercisers can easily break-through that brick wall and continue to reap all the rewards of regular physical activity.

Dodging the dreaded plateau is actually very easy. Variety is the key ingredient to continual fitness success. To avoid hitting a workout plateau, follow these recommendations.

To begin with, every workout routine should be changed about every 4-6 weeks. The modification doesn’t have to be dramatic. A totally new exercise is a possible option, but alteration of a current exercise can be just as effective.

A simple way to determine how to transform your current workout is using the F.I.T.T principle. F.I.T.T. stands for frequency, intensity, time and type. This strategy can be adopted for both cardio and resistance training.

Frequency – increase or decrease how often you workout

Intensity – increase or decrease the difficulty or level at which you workout.

Time – increase or decrease how long your workout sessions last.

Type – change the type of exercises you perform.

Frequency and Time are limited by an individual’s schedule as well as appropriate rest time to ensure maximum efficiency and safety. But Intensity and Type are really only limited by creativity and planning.

Cardio exercise intensity can easily be varied through speed, incline, distance, height, etc. And of course the types of exercises are practically endless, so exercisers should never have the excuse that they’ve exhausted their exercise options. Good cardio examples include: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, hiking, and more. In addition, combining several of these exercises into one workout session can be very effective. Try 10 minutes each of 3-4 unique exercises.

Strength training intensity can also easily be altered with changes in resistance size, number of reps, rest time, number of sets and more. Even simply switching the sequence of the exercises can prove effective. There are also numerous strength training exercise options. Unfortunately, most exercisers are unaware of the plethora of training techniques and equipment options. They often get stuck performing the same 10 exercises over and over. Yet, there are hundreds of unique options. Simply utilizing new types of training equipment every 4-6 weeks can result in big improvements because each type of equipment will work the muscle groups in a slightly different manner. Gear options include: free weights, body bars, selectorized machines, resistance bands, and fitness balls – just to name a few.

Right Exercise Intensity

First we need to understand that the definition of moderate intensity can be completely different from one individual to another. For example, a well-trained athlete may be in the moderate zone when running 5 miles in 30 minutes. Yet, for a novice exerciser who is very overweight, moderate means walking one mile in 30 minutes.

Don’t let this confuse you. While the intensity level is very critical in the overall guideline, fortunately it’s also fairly easily identified. The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) defines moderate as an intensity of 40 percent to 60 percent VO2 maximum. But, since most of us don’t know how to determine our VO2 maximum, there are easier definitions to utilize.

You can base VO2 loosely on your maximum target heart rate zone. A VO2 maximum of 40-60% equates to about 50 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate (MHR). And determining your MHR and the corresponding percent zones is relatively simple. Below is an easy calculation for determining your specific MHR and what 50-70 percent of equates to.

Target Heart Rate Zone

Take 220 and subtract your age. This equals your MHR. (Example: For a 30 year old your MHR is 190)

Next to determine your low range of 50 percent, simply take 190 and multiply it times 50 percent. (Example: For a 30 year old this would equal 95).

Finally, to determine your high range of 70 percent, simply take 190 and multiply it times 70 percent. (Example: For a 30 year old this would equal 133).’

So, in this example the 30 year-old would want to exercise in a heart rate range of somewhere between 95 – 133 BPM. Keep in mind that this calculation is age-related. It does not take into consideration your fitness level.

RPE

This takes into account what the exerciser is perceiving in terms of exercise fatigue and it correlates well with cardiorespiratory and metabolic factors like heart rate and overall fatigue. The RPE scale starts with 0 and ends with 10. A rating of 0 equates to doing nothing, being at rest. A rating of 10 is equal to maximum effort, working very, very hard. For moderate intensity, an exerciser should strive for reaching somewhere between a 4-6, which the scale defines as a somewhat hard to a hard effort.

A great way to measure intensity (where appropriate), is utilizing both the RPE and Target Heart Rate Zone. The exerciser should identify where they fall on the RPE scale when their heart rate is between 50 – 70% maximum. This will allow them to accurately use only the RPE scale for measuring intensity when it is not feasible to determine their THR.

Talk Test

The final method for measuring exercise intensity is the Talk Test. Like the RPE, the talk test is subjective. The exerciser simply ensures that he works out at a level where he can carry on a comfortable conversation. He should be able to breathe comfortably during exercise. In simple terms, the exerciser would be working out too hard if he has to take a breath between every word he says. On the flip side, he would be exercising at too easy of an intensity if he could sing several phrases of a song without breathing hard.

Basic Abdominal Body Fitness

Probably the simplest, and most popular, abdominal exercise is the crunch. Lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat will get your crunch started. Some people like to place their fingertips to the sides of the head, just behind the ears, while others like to do crunches with their arms crossed over their chest. Either way, the next step is to push your lower back to the floor and hold that while you crunch your abdominal muscles to lift your shoulders a few inches off the floor.

To mix things up a bit, you could add an exercise ball to your crunch. You will want to sit on the exercise ball with your feet flat on the floor. Slowly let the ball roll as you lie back until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Then you will contract your abs, raising your torso no more than 45 degrees. The exercise ball is a lot of fun and can really help keep you from getting too bored with your usual abdominal exercises.

Whichever abdominal exercises you determine to be the best route to six pack city, don’t overdo it and end up having to postpone your trip. You should always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program and of course you can’t forget to stretch.

Improve Lean Muscle Mass Gain

1. Time Your Carbohydrate Intake. When it comes to adding carbohydrates to your diet plan, add them before and especially after your workout period. This is when your body is most likely to use those carbs. Eat them at other points in the day, and you may find you are putting on more body fat and less lean muscle as you are not maximizing your nutrient window.

Around 50% of your total carb intake for the day should come in the meal before your workout, your post-workout shake, as well as your post-workout meal.

2. Focus On Compound Movements. Next, when you do hit the gym, think compound movements. These are going to give you the best bang for your buck so to speak, allowing you to work multiple muscle groups at once.

These exercises include moves like…

  • squats,
  • deadlifts,
  • lunges,
  • bench press,
  • shoulder press,
  • bent over rows,
  • pull-ups, and
  • pull-downs.

Focus your time on these, adding isolation exercises to the mix only once these are completed. You will not build more lean muscle mass doing bicep curls all workout long.

3. Think Frequency, Not Volume. Finally, when planning your workout sessions, think frequency, not volume. While it is great to be doing multiple sets each workout, it is better to hit the gym more often than go overboard each workout session. Do too much each workout session, and it will take you a long time to recover, which will slow down your progress…

  • 15 to 24 sets each workout is the most you should aim to do.
  • some people may even get away with less – 12 to 15 sets per session.