Fitness

How To Switch Up Your Workouts To Keep Those Gains Coming

Feel like your progress has flat-lined? Our experts reveal how to switch up your workouts to keep those gains coming

So, you’ve finally found an exercise programme that you can stick to – great! But after a few weeks, your motivation, goals and, most importantly, results have stopped in their tracks – not so great. A plateau is related to a period of little or no change in your progress, after experiencing a steady improvement on your journey to reaching your goals, explains Adam Powell, personal trainer at Odhealth (odhealth.com). “This plateau is the result of what you’ve done in the past and what you’re repeatedly doing now. If you want to break yours, you need to make changes and have the discipline to get the results you desire.” We’ve called in the industry’s finest to help you do just that.

1. Try something new

Ever heard the saying ‘if nothing changes, nothing changes?’. Annoying as that may seem coming from someone who’s an expert at offering unsolicited advice in your life (we’re looking at you, mother-in-laws), it’s true. “Our bodies are specialists of adaptation,” states personal trainer Panu Yagi, (nuffieldhealth.com). “If we perform a task repeatedly, our brain will soon learn the most efficient way of performing the task usually, with as little effort as possible.” Not ideal. So, how do we shake things up when it comes to our workout routine? According to celebrity personal trainer and ambassador for Bullet & Bone, Winston Squire (bulletandbone. com), you need to find one that motivates you. “If you aren’t seeing results, now is the ideal time to vary your routine, so aim to find workouts and exercises that are going to challenge and inspire you.”

2. Track your progress

Something we can all agree on is that when we physically see results starting to take shape, it motivates us to stay on track and keep going, right? “A lot of the time we go from workout to workout without utilising all the variables,” explains David Birtwistle, movement coach and founder of Endeavour Life (endeavourlife. com). “Start tracking the details of your workouts, such as rest periods, weight, reps and sets. When you start doing this, the one percent [that’s missing] will start to add up and the quality of your training will increase quickly.” Next on the agenda: accountability. David recommends having someone you can check-in with regularly to help you increase your consistency and frequency of your training. “By having this friend, family member or community of people as a tool, it could lead to an increase in output and therefore results.”

3. Get real

Challenges and setbacks are part of life, so set realistic goals to avoid disappointment, advises Winston. “Give yourself short, medium and long-term training goals. You need to be realistic about the intensity and length of training required to see results [and suit your lifestyle].” Plus, you need to take things slowly if you’re starting a new training routine – going gung-ho on those burpee tuck-jumps will only lead to injury. “You’ll be learning a new set of skills, so it’s important to master the exercise techniques and posture first. Make sure you warm up thoroughly before starting any exercise programme to prepare your body and reduce the likelihood of pulling a muscle.”

4. Don’t underestimate sleep

Without sounding like a stressed parent telling her kids to go to bed, sleep is vital for repairing your body and can ensure you’re ready to face the day. “Ideally, try to get seven hours of sleep and it helps to wake up at the same time every morning,” Adam suggests. “Limit blue light exposure at least one hour before going to bed. Pick up a book instead or take a bath to unwind before turning in for the night.” Panu agrees. Sleep is something that shouldn’t be overlooked and if you’re upping your training, you’re going to need some good quality z’s. “Training frequently can put a significant amount of stress on the body and if we don’t allow ourselves enough time for the recovery process to happen, then we can end up doing a lot more harm than good.”

5. Change the environment

Now that the weather is starting to improve, why not take this opportunity to switch up where you squat? A change of scenery, say from your front room to your back garden, will not only contribute to your vitamin D levels, but give you more space. “One of the biggest contributors to a plateau is your mental approach to training,” says David. “You can get stuck in a funk and end up giving a half-hearted attempt to your training without even realising. A new environment can be a clean start and fresh opportunity for you to inject some new motivation into your training.”

6. Focus on your nutrition

The Body Coach fans among us will be familiar with the mantra ‘you can’t out train a bad diet’ and so you might need to look at your plate, rather than your plank, to break your plateau. “Never before has there been so much information out there on what we should eat and when,” says Adam. “Ignore what your friends are doing and find what works for you. Then, it’s simply a case of having some discipline and committing to your new way of eating. It will take a couple of weeks before you start to feel and see results, so stick with it.”

7. Strive for progress, not perfection

You’re not a glass of your favourite vino; you can’t be perfect all the time. Take the pressure off and accept that you’re always going to be a work-in-progress. Cat Jamison, personal trainer and advisor to FitFoodKitchen (fitfoodkitchenbelfast.com), also wants you to be patient with yourself, and approach your new way of working out with compassion and love. “Stop waiting for Monday to come around, any day is a good day to pick up where you left off. And, if you haven’t started yet, stop procrastinating and repeat these words to yourself: you don’t have to be great to start, you just have to start!”

Health & Wellbeing