20 tips for getting out of a training rut

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When you start out on an exercise routine one of the hardest things to do is keep motivated and enthusiastic. So if you have reached a plateau or you are struggling with your workout try introducing one of these motivational tips into you programme.

1. Monitor Your Progress.

There is no greater motivator than seeing results. One of the most important monitoring devices is a heart rate monitor. These act like a cars rev counter informing you how hard you are working at all times. They will help you compare different forms of exercise and continually monitor your progress. You can set a target heart rate, known as a training zone, which will guarantee you are working out at the optimal level for your specific goal. A heart rate monitor is easy to use, inexpensive and provides vital training information. Other helpful monitoring products are Body Fat Scales, tape measure and blood pressure monitor.

2. Cross Train
Cross Training involves changing your choice of activity such as 10 minutes on a treadmill, followed by 10 minutes on a rower and then 10 minutes on an exercise bike. By adding this variety to your workout you will help eliminate boredom, one of the biggest enemies to any exercise programme. In addition it also improves overall fitness, reduces the risk of repetitive injuries and results in more muscles being worked or the same muscles worked in a different way.

3. Weight Train
Weight training is not just for bodybuilders. It is a vital component to any exercise routine whether you are male or female, young or old. By incorporating weight training into your workouts twice a week you will increase the size and strength of your muscles, reducing your risk of injury, increasing your calorie burn potential, as muscle are more efficient at burning calories than fat, and improve your body shape and composition.

4. Change Your Routine
Change your workout routine every six weeks by incorporating a new exercise or altering the intensity or duration of existing exercises. Doing the same exercise, for the same amount of time in the same order, week after week, month after month is not only boring puts its also counter productive as the body adapts to the routine and it can actually decelerate your fitness gains. By continually changing your routine forces the body to adapt and respond to new challenges, making it fitter, leaner and stronger.

5. Set Yourself Targets
Having a goal to work towards will help you to focus on your training and make you think about structuring your workouts so that you achieve your goals. Set a realistic target but make the target challenging. Mix long-term goals with short term ones and then reward yourself when your reach them as an added motivation.

6. Keep A Record
To continually improve your fitness level you need to adopt the principal of progressive overload. This means that you have to push yourself that little bit more as your fitness improves. It may mean adding an extra kilo to the weight bar, performing one more rep on your bench press or running an extra minute on the treadmill. However without a record of your progress you could find you are not making the most of your exercise time. By charting your progress you will be able to see the improvements you’ve made, which will help motivate you.

7. Train With A Partner
Training with someone is more fun. A training partner can also spur you on to do more each workout. Your partner can also act as a spotter when you are performing specific exercises, motivate you and provide encouragement when you most need it and keep an eye on your technique.

8. Interval Train
This method of training consists of repeated periods of work followed by set recovery times. For example you could run for two minutes on a treadmill followed by one minute walking. This method of training is excellent for allowing the body to customise itself to higher workloads. Time seems to fly by when training this way and by interval training once or twice a week you will see yourself get fitter than ever.

9. Entertain Yourself
Set up a TV or listen to music while you workout. Latest research has shown that by occupying your mind this way you could find yourself working out 25% longer.

10. Try New Things
No one exercise will achieve everything. It is important you try different things. For example to build muscle you wouldn’t just do a bench press or to loose weight just use an exercise bike. You may only do something new once but by trying different things and then adding those you enjoy to your routine you have a better chance of achieving the balanced workout that is essential for overall health and wellbeing.

11. Get The Best Out Of A Treadmill
If you enjoy running on a treadmill and are using it to enhance your outdoor running then you may not be getting the preparation you think you are. When you run on a treadmill the belt is moving under you and it is you that is stationary, outside you are moving and its the ground that is stationery. Treadmill running causes you to push straight up with each stride, whereas running outside you push up and forward. If you put the treadmill on a 1% gradient it will over come this problem and because the incline is so small you will hardly notice the difference.

12. If Strength Is A Priority, Weight Train Before Cardio
To get maximum results from any weight training routine you need to give 100% each session. It is the only way you will be able to keep increasing the weight, which is the basic principal of the overload method. However if you do a cardio workout first the chances are that you will fatigue your muscles and deplete your energy stores.

13. Small Muscles Also Count
All basic exercises will use the larger muscles such as the legs, chest, arms and back, but there are 650 muscles in the body and they all play a vital role. Small muscles act to stabilise our joints. If we ignore these muscles then injuries can happen. This is even more likely if you have built much larger, stronger muscles around them as you have caused an imbalance, putting a greater strain on an already weak point. So don’t forget to include exercises for the deep abdominals, wrist, knees and neck-to name just a few.

14. Sit Up Properly
Sit-ups are still the number one exercise for the flatter stomach. However a lot of people complain about neck pain after performing them. This is because they put their hands behind their head and pull on their neck to help them do the sit up. By using an AB frame you can overcome this, allowing you to perform more repetitions and research has shown that the best ones are those with a pivoting headrest. However the research also showed that for the same number of sit-ups the abdominal conditioning was no greater using an AB Frame than a normal unaided sit up, just safer and more comfortable.

15. Just Because You Ache From A Workout, You Can Still Train.
If you ache from a previous workout and just don’t feel like going for a run then try swimming instead. The buoyancy of the water will support your body and mean your muscles don’t have to work as hard as when they are trying to stabilise you normally. Swimming can still be a tough workout so don’t look at it as a cop out, it’s just afterwards you will feel more supple and relaxed.

16. When Away-Skip
If you find it impossible to get to the gym or fit in a workout because you are away on business or holiday then take a skipping rope with you. Its an incredibly portable piece of fitness equipment, inexpensive light and easy to store. It will also provide a great aerobic workout. It may take a little time to master, but then that’s also part of the fun and once you have got the hang of it, it looks really impressive.

17. What To Do When You Are Pushed For Time
If time really is of the essence try doing a short 20-minute, 85% of your maximum heart rate, high intensity workout. 20 minutes at this level will certainly achieve a quality session.

18. Be Flexible
Flexibility is one of three main elements of fitness, the other two being cardio and strength. A joint that has a greater range of motion is less likely to suffer injury. It will also improve athletic performance. Yoga, Martial Arts, Pilates or just simple stretching techniques can all help.

19. Don’t Become Obsessed
One of the benefits of exercise is that it reduces stress, but it can cause stress as well. If you become obsessed with exercise to the point that you have to workout even when you are feeling unwell, when you really do not have the time or it interferes with your home and family life then you have a problem. Remember if you miss just one session you will not become morbidly obese or take 20 years of your life. Exercise should be part of your life, not your life. As with everything else you have to find a balance.

20 Don’t Forget To Rest

After a workout your body needs to recover and it is this recovery period where your body gets stronger. So always leave 24-48 hours between workouts. Rest is every bit as important as the training. It also gives you that breather so that you are actually looking forward to your next workout.

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