Anyone who's ever begun a new workout routine has probably recognized the eerie resemblance that it often bears to a relationship. There's the honeymoon stage when you're both naively enamored with each other. Workouts seem to fly by as you dream of the future results of all your hard work. The next stage is when you start butting heads over your workout routine. 6 AM runs start feeling earlier and earlier. This is where a lot of people give up. If you're able to survive that, however, the final stage is often that of being comfortable - but not really improving.
So how can you keep getting stronger and healthier by avoiding the "third stage plateau" effect? You can't fix it if you don't know what the problem is, right? Here are five reasons why your workout might not be working:
1. You're not working hard enoughThis doesn't mean that you're lazy, it simply means that you've become comfortable enough with your routine that you aren't challenging yourself. It takes more exercise to get that post-workout burn, so you might not be pushing yourself hard enough. Climbing a hill is the hardest when you're close to the top. Just keep challenging yourself so you can make it to the top and on to the next one!
2. You're working too hard and/or irregularlyThe opposite can also be true if you're not seeing the results you want. Part of exercising is doing it regularly and giving your muscles a chance to heal in between. You should set a strict schedule so that you don't end up working like crazy one day and then not hitting the trail or the weight room until the next week. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Work hard enough to feel the burn, but not so hard that you're out of commission for four days afterwards.
3. You're only concentrating on one form of exerciseAnother common mistake people make is to narrow their focus too much. Even if your goal is just to shed a couple of pounds, only doing cardio limits the results you can achieve. Hitting the weights is a no brainer if you want to bulk up, but cardio is also necessary. There are ways to blend cardio and strength training, like circuit training, but you have to have a balanced approach to get the results that you want.
4. You're haven't changed your dietYou can work out every day, but if you go home afterwards and reward yourself with an ice cream sundae or a bag of potato chips, you're not going to see the results that you want. Find a balanced diet. That doesn't mean that you can't eat things you like—the worst thing you can do is feel guilty for eating. Instead, find some substitutes. Instead of ice cream, make a fruit smoothie in your BlenderBottle® SportMixer™; instead of candy, snack on some dried fruit. You get the picture.
5. You're sacrificing sleep
Being healthy is a holistic process. You have to exercise, eat healthy, and allow your body to rest and recuperate. If you're sacrificing sleep for exercise, work, play, or anything else, you're going to feel it—and it doesn’t feel good. Everybody needs different amounts of sleep, but most people need 7-8 hours per night. Even if you like going on early morning runs, get to bed early and rest up beforehand! Your body will thank you for it. BONUS - Here's some great health and life advice from the hilarious and health-conscious Terry Crews, plus some extra motivation to exercise!
How do you avoid the "third stage plateau" effect? We'd love to hear what works for you.