The New Year has begun and you've been working steadily on the new you. Progress is slow but your still improving until you hit the emphasis fitness plateau. All progress comes to screeching hault and you feel frustrated. So how do you over come the self defeating hold on your progress? In the fitness business there is simple acronym we use to help us determine what method in your workout program we need to change to help you move past this plateau. This simple acronym is FIT, frequency, intensity, & time. Isn't it interesting the one thing we are striving for is exactly what we need to overcome our plateau? So let's look more closely at these three principles.
First let's begin with frequency. Frequency refers to the number of times in a given week you are exercising. For example, you began your new program January 1st, you've started lifting two to three times per a week, as your fitness level improves you continued with three workouts a week. Now four weeks in and you can tell your body's ready for a change and could stand something new or different. Frequency in this example is as simple as adding an extra day or two of walking in your workout week. The surgeon general recommends that exercise should be done most days of the week, that's four or five days a week. Add an extra day or two to your workout regime and notice how much better you feel and quickly your weigh loss improves.
The I, intensity. Intensity can be a number of things; it can be lifting heavier, cycling faster, adding intervals to push your heart rate. The purpose of intensity is to challenge the body in a way that it hasn't previously been challenged. Another words, if you've been lifting it mean lifting heavier, resting less between sets, or doing higher repetition. It could also be adding an interval between each set of reps. The object is to present a challenge to the body that will force it to change and need more energy to perform the task at hand.
Finally, time. Time refers to the duration spent doing the exercise. For example, you've been riding the stationary bike three days a week for thirty minutes, you've noticed improvement in the way your body feels after you finish and would even say it's becoming easy. In this example, the simple challenge I would introduce to the body is to lengthen the amount of time spent completeling the exercise. If thirty minutes is what you've been doing it's "time" to strive for 40-45 minutes. This small incremental difference in your workout places additional demands on the body and requires it to respond by providing more energy to your body and burn more calories.
Over coming plateaus can be very simple if you follow these simple steps. So next time your at the gym and feeling frustrated by the dreaded fitness "plateau," remember in order to be FIT you have to think FIT. Good luck!