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5 Ways to Break Through a Training Plateau


It can be frustrating to train hard and see and fewer results. For those who are fairly new to strength training, you may have been able to make some dramatic strength gains during the initial stages of your training. Over time, though, the strength gains lessen and it gets harder to keep progressing. Usually after about six months, people start to reach a plateau and their gains begin to level off. If you find yourself at or nearing a plateau, there are some adjustments you can make to help you break past it.


1. Increase Intensity – Instead of doing more reps at a lower weight, try a higher weight at a lower amount of reps. It will force your muscles to work harder.  Making your muscles work harder, rather than for a longer a period of time, is one of the best ways to break through a plateau. Just remember to make gradual weight increases. Microloading by adding fractional weights is a great way to do this. It’s also a good idea not to rush your movements and lift in a controlled manner to get the most out of your efforts.


2. Change the Order – You probably have a set routine established and perform a specific pattern of exercises. Simply just breaking free from your normal pattern and doing things out of order can challenge your muscles in a new way. You may find certain exercises may be a lot harder when performed at the end of your workout. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it’s usually best to work out the bigger muscle groups at the beginning of your regimen.


3. Add Variation – Aside from just switching up the order, it’s ideal to introduce new challenges to your routine. If you’re used to working out with machines, try free weights, or vice versa. Making little adjustments to keep your program interesting and work your muscles in new ways can be enough to break through that plateau.


4. Evaluate Your Program – It might be time to take a good look at your routine. Now that you’ve been sticking to it for quite some time, is there anything that you’ve outgrown? Are there exercises that you weren’t previously ready for but are now up to the challenge? If you’re uncertain, you can consult a personal trainer for a few sessions.


5. Get Enough Rest – Adequate rest is an essential part of making healthy strength gains. Your muscles need the time to recover. If they don’t get the proper rest, you’ll be too fatigued to maintain your program and you’ll put yourself at risk of an injury.


Overall, the important thing is to stick with your training and don’t give up when you hit a plateau. They can pop up from time to time but making those small adjustments will keep you going strong!


posted Sep 25th, 03:22 pm

5 Common Cardio Myths You Can Put to Rest


When it comes to exercising, there are plenty of misconceptions people have that keep them from staying fit. Here are 5 myths that people tend to believe about cardio routines.


Myth #1: Cardio is only for people who are concerned with weight loss.


The Truth: Whether you’re looking to shed some extra pounds or want to bulk up, cardio is beneficial to everyone. Among many other things, it helps get your blood pumping, strengthens your heart, improves your endurance, and increases your lung capacity. So, it’s not something to shy away from even if you’re looking to add muscle. It’s important to include some amount of cardio in your routine.


Myth #2: The machine displays an accurate count of calories burned.


The Truth: A display that shows calories burned is helpful, as long as it’s used as a guide. The amount of calories burned will vary from person to person so the number that is shown is just an estimate. An additional way to determine how many calories you’ve burned is to invest in a good heart rate monitor that will better evaluate your workout intensity.


Myth #3: More cardio means you can eat whatever you want.


The Truth: Wouldn’t it be great if this were true? Unfortunately, it’s not. Many people use their cardio workouts to burn off the extra junk food they just ate. However, it usually takes a lot longer to burn off the calories of a big splurge than we tend to think. If you consider the amount of calories consumed in a typical fast food meal, it may actually take hours. Anyone who works out with this in mind is not actually burning off those calories in the time they allotted. If they are able to accomplish that, then they are probably working out too long. Spending hours on a cardio machine day after day can lead to overtraining and can be damaging.


Myth #4: Steady-state cardio is best for burning fat.


The Truth: Doing cardio at the same pace for a longer period of time may be easier, so you may wind up burning more calories during your workout time. But high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you alternate short bursts of intense cardio and periods of rest, will actually help you burn more calories throughout the entire day. Your body will be burning more even when you’re not exercising. The goal is to focus less on the amount of time and more on the intensity.


Myth #5: If you only have a short time to devote, you might as well skip it.


The Truth: Even if all you have is ten minutes, it’s still worth the time you’ll take. Any amount of time that you can devote to being active is better than doing nothing.

posted Sep 18th, 03:58 pm

5 Fitness Hacks to Make Staying Fit Simpler


When it comes to getting fit, there's no way to cheat. It requires hard work and dedication. However, there are a few simple tricks to put into effect to make life a little easier. Here are 5 fitness hacks that could be useful for anyone.


 Combine Strength and Cardio


Short on time? For those days that don’t allow a full workout, try combining your efforts. You can get in both cardio and strength training in the same amount of time. Using kettlebells is one way to accomplish this. While they are primarily used for strength training, certain movements will keep your heart rate up and provide some of the benefits of cardio. Adding a weighted vest or a pair of ankle weights as you walk or jog will increase your strength during your cardio session. 


Perform Compound Exercises


Another way to get the most out of your workout is by working more than one muscle group at a time. The best way to do this is with compound exercises. To read more about the benefits of compound exercises vs. isolated exercises, check out our previous article.


Keep a Record


One of the most important things you can do to stay on track with your fitness regimen is making a plan. Setting goals and planning ahead is a great way to hold yourself accountable. So, why not take it one step further by keeping a fitness diary? Don't just plan your routine before it happens. Take some time to write down what you did after your workout. Did you meet your goals? Were there areas where you fell short? Not only will it be a valuable tool for showing you how you can improve, it can also be motivating to see how hard you've worked and make it easier to stay on track. 


Use a Pedometer


How close do you come to reaching the recommended goal of 10,000 steps a day? A pedometer is a great way to evaluate how active you really are. This is an especially useful accessory on those rest days.



Listen to an Audio Book


It's common to use music to get you through your workouts, but have you tried listening to an audio book? It's easy to do with some earphones and the help of your phone. It may not get you as pumped as your favorite tunes, but it can easily help in passing the time. This is especially true for a book you've been waiting to read or with one you have trouble putting down. For an added incentive, don't allow yourself to listen to it unless you're exercising. That doesn't mean you need to ditch your favorite playlist, but switch up what you're listening to for some added variety.


posted Sep 4th, 04:18 pm

10 Tips for Staying Fit in College


Adjusting to college life can be a challenge. It’s often the first time that many young adults get the chance to make their own rules. There’s the freedom to choose all your own meals at the cafeteria and snack on whatever you want in the dorms. Plus, there’s no one requiring you to stay active in high school P.E. classes. But it’s not just freshmen that are concerned about the “Freshman 15.” Keeping fit can be difficult for any seasoned college student, especially when you add in the busy class schedules, social activities, part-time jobs, and late night study sessions. Fortunately, staying healthy doesn’t have to be hard if you commit yourself to it. Here are 10 tips to help you stay fit in college.

1. Schedule Your Time – The students who make a plan are much likelier to succeed than those who simply say they will try to make time for exercise. College life can be hectic, so fitting in your workout as if it were a class you need to be at will make it much easier. Once you have your class schedule in place, you can plan out your days and make better use of your time. If you sit down and work it out, you may find you have a long break between classes near the fitness center where you can get in your workout.

2. Use the Campus – College campuses are perfectly designed for cardio workouts. Walking or biking to class will add activity to your day, especially if you have time to take the long way. That’s another reason why planning ahead will come in handy. There are many ways to fit in cardio, even if you’re not headed to class.

3. Head to the Fitness Center – Many colleges have a fitness center that is either free for student use, or the rate is reduced. This is a perk that won’t last after graduation. So, if you have access to fitness equipment, you might as well take advantage of it.

4. Take a Class – Your school may offer fitness classes that you can receive credit for. This will keep you from giving into excuses. Even a nutrition class would be a smart idea.

5. Multitask – If you’re short on time but have a lot of reading to do for a class, take your book to the fitness center. Hop on a treadmill or bike and study at the same time. You can pass the time on a machine while you review your notes.

6. Join a Team – Intramural sports are a great way to get exercise without getting bored. It can take the place of the exercise you may have been getting from your high school sport, and it’s great for socializing.

7. Form Your Own Club - Look for others who have shared interests and may want to join something like a running or biking club, for example. Working out with others will help you stay committed, and it will give you an opportunity to meet new people. You can check bulletin boards or put up flyers to find others that may want to join you. Even if you only wind up working out with one other person from your dorm, it can give you the edge you need to stay focused.

8. Maintain Balance - Be sure you’re making time for cardio and strength training. With all the walking you may be doing around campus, it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating strength training into your routine.

9. Get the Right Tools -Put together your own mini home gym for your dorm or apartment. There are plenty of small fitness items that don’t take up much space but can give you a full workout, while still staying within the tight budget of a college student. Resistance bands, weighted fitness balls, jump ropes, yoga mats, or a small pair of dumbbells, are some examples of portable, space-saving pieces. They can be taken outdoors or used inside if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

10. Eat and Sleep Well – In order to stay fit, you should try to eat right and get enough sleep. This isn’t always easy in college, but it can be done if you make the effort.

Making fitness a priority while away at school is not only important for keeping off the unwanted Freshman 15, but it will allow you to succeed in other areas. It can help you manage stress, improve your mind for your classes, and give you the energy you need to handle your schedule. If you make an effort to stay healthy, you’ll have an easier time, overall, at handling college life!

posted Aug 21st, 03:48 pm

Benefits of Using a Medicine Ball


Day after day, you head to the gym performing the same movements in your routine. If you need a change that will prevent boredom, adding a medicine ball is an excellent way to challenge yourself in a routine that you’ve become used to. Besides keeping your workout fresh, it also provides some great benefits.


Medicine balls are a valuable tool for strength training. You can add intensity to some of the exercises you’ve been performing by simply holding the ball while you do the movements. You can take exercises, such as lunges or squats, to the next level and build more muscle mass. If you’ve recently hit a plateau, this can be a great way to vary your regimen and push beyond it.


Medicine balls are also frequently used to improve core strength by working on your abs and muscles in your back. Tossing the ball to the side or throwing it back and forth to a workout buddy is one of the ways you can engage your core. Using it in this way can help with balance and posture.


Sports training is another way medicine balls are used. They can be tossed, caught, rolled, pushed, or bounced in a variety of ways that enhance sports performance.  Plus, they improve hand-eye coordination.  


Other benefits include improving flexibility and endurance. Since the movements become more challenging, you have to push harder, which increases your range of motion. It will also help you with performing your daily tasks because it’s a form of functional training, and you mimic real-life activities.   Although medicine balls are commonly used to push harder in a routine, they are also used in rehabilitation. Whether you’re an athlete looking to train harder, or simply just improve your balance, they are safe for all ages and fitness levels.


Because you’re able to use them with such a variety of exercises that work out both your upper and lower body, it’s an inexpensive piece of equipment that takes up little space. And it’s easy enough to take outdoors with you if you need a change of scenery. With its limitless uses and many benefits, it makes a great addition to any home gym!  

posted Aug 14th, 04:08 pm

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