Giving Your Old Workout New Challenges
People who exercise regularly often have their favorite workout programs and exercises that they will repeat many times. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t respond well to continuing to perform the same exercise routines. The body will plateau and results will stagnate. Personally, I recommend changing your workout regimen every 6 to 8 weeks to keep the body from plateauing. However, if you want to continue to perform your favorite routine, I would suggest the following tips to change things up and trick the body to avoid plateau.
Tip #1: Reverse it! Simply performing the exercises in reverse order can be enough to confuse the muscles and spark improvements. For example, if you normally perform Squats first during a given workout and Step Ups last, simply reversing that order can make the workout feel brand new to you. The reason is that instead of your legs being fresh to crush the Squats right at the beginning of your workout they will be more spent at the end of the workout and provide the body a completely different challenge!
This same theory can be applied to your workout days. If you normally work certain body parts on certain days just reversing the order of the days in which you work those body parts will provide a similar challenge because your body gets used to lifting legs on Monday and Chest on Thursday. Switching up those days creates muscle confusion…which creates results!
Tip #2: Change your tempo! Most people exercise at a 1-0-1 tempo. Meaning they take 1 second to lower the weight, do not pause at the bottom of the rep, then raise the weight in 1 second. Changing to a slower tempo puts more tension on the muscles involved and thus changes the effect of the exercise. A 3-0-3 tempo or even 5-0-5 tempo will provide a significant challenge to the muscles being recruited and stimulate growth and endurance. Another tempo variation is to pause at the bottom of a rep before finishing the movement. So a 1-1-1, 3-1-3 or 5-1-5 tempo is another great twist on an old exercise!
Tip #3: Go Half! Say you’re going to perform Bench Press on a given workout day. You would lower the bar to your chest then raise the bar halfway before returning the bar to your chest and then pushing the bar back to the top and finishing the movement. That would be 1 repetition. This tactic is designed to tax the muscle increasing endurance, strength and power.
Tip #4: Add Intervals! For joggers and bikers, a great way to burn extra calories and excess body fat more quickly within the same mileage is to add periods of sprints into your bike or run. Runners can also add squat hops, bounding and single leg hops to their run. Bikers can change their gearing during their bike ride…for instance, when going up a hill leave the gear the same instead of switching to a higher gear and making pedaling easier.
Tip #5: Active Recovery!! A great way to keep your heart rate up and confuse the body during a workout is active recovery between sets. So, if you normally rest 90 seconds between sets of an exercise, instead of sitting for the entire 90 seconds you can do 30 seconds of a cardiovascular or abdominal exercise. Such as jumping jacks, high knees, burpees, sit ups, dying spiders or boot strappers. The increased heart rate burns more calories and body fat and makes each subsequent set harder than the last.
So there you have it! You’re more than welcome to keep your favorite workout programs! Just try some of these tips to confuse the body and prevent workout plateaus. I look forward to your feedback after trying some of this advice!!