By: Jewel Kessler, NASM CPT/FNS, HAC Trainer and Small Group Director
If you haven’t started an exercise plan, start. In fact, start today after you are done reading this article. The human body was designed to move and 8 to 10 hours sitting in a car, in front of a computer, or lounging around is not in your best interest for long term health. If you do exercise and have lost weight but would like to drop a few more pounds it can be tough, especially if you hit the dreaded plateau which is a slowing of progress or a flat out stall in results. Congratulations! You are more fit then you believe and now is the opportunity to up your game. Your body has become more fit and now your go-to routine has to be changed in order to see more progress.
Up the Resistance
Strength training three times a week has been proven to change your body composition. Adding resistance helps to torch more calories during and after your workout while replacing body fat with lean muscle mass. Put the five pound weights down because they are a total waste of your time. You carry grocery bags heavier than five pounds. Be bold and pick up a reasonably heavier set of weights. Yes, the exercises will be harder and more challenging and that is a good thing! You want to stress your body to a healthy degree in order to get it to adapt to change. Track your progress and weights when you workout so you can see your progress every time. After four to six weeks of using the same weight try to increase the resistance by 10% to keep you moving forward. Other options to help with your results include increasing your frequency (from three workouts a week to four); intensity (if you are using 10 pound weights try 15); time (increase your workout duration by 5 minutes or even decrease your workout duration by 5 minutes but limit your rest periods to the session is more intense); or type (if you’ve been doing the same routine try a small group training, group X class, or work with a personal trainer to learn a new routine).
Pick Up the Tempo
To lose weight you should be doing 5 to 6 days a week of cardio. If your sessions are short (between 15 and 25 minutes) you should increase the intensity. If your sessions are moderate to longer (between 30 to 90 minutes) you should build intervals or hills into your steady pace training to burn more calories. Cardio is about sustained energy output, not overall duration. If you can get the job done in an intense 20 minute cardio session, go for it! A good gauge to tell if you are working in the right intensity: slightly breathless, sweating, can only talk in short sentences, should feel challenged especially if performing intervals or hills.
Tips for a great workout:
Listen to music. Upbeat music like dance, rock, pop and hip hop have can alter the tempo of your exercise which could make your workout session more productive.
Make sure you are wearing the right gear. If you are running, a great pair of running shoes is advised and well worth the investment. Go to a specialty running store to get fitted correctly for the right shoes. For all other forms of exercise that require footwear, a comfy pair of cross trainers is indispensable. Wear clothes that are light and wick the sweat away from your body so you reduce overheating, chaffing, or being uncomfortable.
Find a workout buddy. If you like to work out alone and have the motivation to push yourself, awesome, keep it up! Many people need someone there to help push them. A little friendly competition can be fun and help you progress past the limits you set in your head. If you don’t have a workout buddy, consider joining a small group training. These trainings are designed to be small enough so you feel like you are being personally trained but encourage new friendships and light competition. Small group training offers the benefits of working with a personal training at a fraction of their professional rate.
Pretend you are on camera. I know that sounds silly. Honestly think about it – if you were being filmed for the world to see you would up your game and concentrate on your form so much more.
Make sure your concentrate on form. If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. You could get hurt and waste your time. You can get workouts anywhere – magazines, apps, YouTube, books, etc. However, there may be some tweaks to your body mechanics that only a trained eye could point out and help correct. Consider hiring a personal trainer to help with your form so you are maximizing your time at the gym.
Stay positive. Who cares if you can’t do a push up, pull up, stand on your head and sing the national anthem. Practice makes perfect! No matter how rough your day was, no matter how many times you hit the alarm in the morning, no matter if you weren’t able to exercise yesterday or this whole week… get back in the gym and keep going. Setbacks happen to everyone and the ones who succeed let go of the past, move on and keep trying. Keep at it! You will succeed!!
Author: Jewel Kessler, NASM-CPT, NASM-FNS, HAC Gravity Director