…we find out how committed we really are and whether we’re going to see things through to the finish or quit.
In a previous post I talked about plateauing, getting to a point in our training where gains are no longer being made. Plateauing can happen in both our cardio training, and resistance training. What can cause plateauing? Doing the same thing every time you train and not challenging your body when you train. Becoming comfortable. Your mental state can also cause plateauing. If you are working out physically, but not mentally in the sense that you are just going through the motions, you probably will not make any physical gains. In fact, you may actually lose some of your gains.
No one wants to plateau. Who would want to do the same amount of work, but not make the gains you could have made.
I want to spend some time talking about the psychological aspect to our training. In my opinion the mind can have a significant impact on our training. If your mind is not into what you are doing, you will probably either stop doing it by finding ways to avoid working out, or you will end up halfheartedly going through the motions. If this is the case for you, it’s time to change what you are doing. The mind is powerful, and what is going on in your mind will find a way to express itself in your body.
I’ve seen it myself where when training people for a while using the same routine, they become bored, and the energy level drops, and the effort drops. Or they become complacent, comfortable in doing the same thing over and over, afraid of change. Changing the workout or doing something to bring the energy level up can make a huge difference. It’s amazing, nothing has changed physically with the person but the perception of things changed and the body responded. This may require you to get out of your comfort zone which can be uncomfortable. But the rewards can be, well, fantastic!
Things that can be done to address mental fatigue are:
- Try working out at a different time of day
- Try working out with music. If you already do this, change up the music to something new
- Try working out with someone that can motivate you
- Try something new. Sign up for a new class, or try a different piece of equipment
- Get a personal trainer that will motivate you
Try to be aware of your mental state while training. If you are lacking motivation, constantly yawning when training, and generally uninterested, it’s time to change things up.
Time to look at resistance training and what can be done to address plateauing. Good news is there are a lot of options. I’m going to get right into them:
- Supersets – Instead of resting between your sets, throw in another set working another part of your body. An example would be between your bench press sets, do seated cable rows. Or, between pushup sets, do ab crunches. Supersets are great when you are pressed for time or to work more muscles during your workout.
- Circuit training – Sets of resistance training and cardio training are combined with little or no break. An example would be a set of pushups, a set of ab bikes, and a set of high knees. Do this for 4 sets for a challenging workout
- Pyramid sets – Multiple sets are combined in an ascending and or descending fashion. What I love about pyramid sets is you can do this with anything you do, pretty much. Let’s use burpees as an example. I know, you hate Burpees. Everyone hates Burpees but you know what? Burpees is one of the best full body exercises you can do that is fantastic for improving your cardio. Alright, back to pyramid sets. Start with 15, then a 10 second break. Then drop down to 14, 10 second break. Next, do 13, then 12, then 11 adding the break in between and do this until you get down to 1. Then, if you like, head back up to 15. If a 10 second break is too long, shorten it. This is a guideline, you are the best judge of what you need for a rest.
When change is right, change is rewarding
Challenging yourself, keeping yourself interested are very important things to keep moving forward with your active life. Try not to become stagnant and try not to be discouraged if you reach a plateau. Remember that there are options and explore these options.
It’s up to you what you choose to do. Choose wisely. Don’t stare the sun down.
Yours in health,