As one works to improve their overall fitness level, typically you will run into what are referred to as plateaus in your progress. That is, there will be weeks, even months for some, where no improvement seems to be taking place, whether it is weight loss, fat loss or strength gains. These plateaus are a normal experience but most certainly there are ways to reduce the length of time they last.
The key to busting through plateaus can be summed up in one word…VARIETY. If you participate in some of my Santa Monica boot camp workouts, then you already know a lot about this, as I do all I can to have no 2 workouts the same. However if you can’t join us, it is essential for you to put this into your plan of action.
When it comes to training, one of your goals is to keep your muscles guessing…often referred to by some in the fitness industry as muscle confusion. If you constantly do the same thing over and over, your muscles will adapt and at some point without some form of new stimulus introduced, your progress will level off in terms of new muscles fibers being fired.
What follows are 6 simple ways to add variety to your home fitness routines or gym workouts:
Make sure to choose the appropriate weight for the given repetition ranges…that is, where you feel the muscle beginning to burn a bit during the last couple of reps. Choosing weights that are too light is a common error for many that will also lead to plateaus. It is that burn that is going to help you build lean muscle to help you burn fat.
1.Use circuits For Fitness
Typically you will put a series of 4-8 exercises together where there will be no rest between. The rest comes at the end. Traditionally you will order them so that you target major muscles first and minor muscles further down the line. Usually done if you are just starting out or just need to get in and get out. Use 8-12 reps for each exercise
example: Total Body
- Shoulder Press
- Bent Over Row
- Chest Press
- Mountain Climbers
this is where you will two exercises back to back before you rest. The most effective supersets typically use non-competing muscles as a pairing…i.e. Chest/Back or Legs/Shoulders instead of Shoulders/Chest or Back/Biceps. Use the repetition range of 8-12 reps, choosing a weight that allows you to work to fatigue.
example: Legs and Chest
1a. Forward Lunge
1b. Spiderman Push-up
3.Use compound sets:
Take one muscle group and do 2 exercises back to back for that area/body part…you are “compounding” the effort put out by that muscle as well as the effect. Usually two major moves. Do 8-12 reps of each.
1a. Goblet Squat
1b. Dumbbell Step Ups
4.Use giant sets
Take one muscles group and do three exercises back to back to back. Typically a major move is done first, maybe second and then a more targeted exercise is used to finish it off. Use 8-12 reps of each exercise for best results.
1a. Military Press
1b. Lateral Raise
1c. Rear Delt Fly
here you will take a particular area of the body, and do 2 exercises for it. You may be thinking this is a “compound set” but here’s the difference…your first move is a traditional resistance exercise to be followed by a plyometric or power oriented move for the same area. These can be challenging, so do them early in your workout. Use 6-12 reps of exercise 1, and 4-6 reps of exercise 2.
- Dumbbell Chest Press
- Clapping Push-Ups
6.Use timed sets
typically done with lighter weights…you would work for 60 seconds as an example and get as many reps in as possible. The goal is to burn out the muscle and rev up your heart rate, Rest 30-60 seconds and repeat.
- 60 seconds of Bent Over Row