Hitting a wall

This has to be the most frustrating part of any fitness plan. Hitting a wall or plateau.  You are doing all your planned sessions, but are you eating well, sleeping enough and pushing yourself harder? Pushing too hard can be as bad as not pushing hard enough. Think about changing your plan.

Try a new class, do your usual gym session in a different order, be honest about how hard you are working. Do you lose interest after 30 minutes? Fine, then just plan to work hard for 30 minutes and then leave. Look at how frequently you train, what you’re doing and what you’re really doing! Then devise a new plan to include your diet – what you eat is key to your success. Are you treating yourself on the way home from the gym because you stayed for the full hour, even though it wasn’t that great?

Talk to a Personal Trainer if you need help. It could be well worth the investment to see the results.

Split routines

There are many parts of the body to work out, if you’re weight training, splitting what bits you work means you can do shorter and more intense workouts, a simple split would be lower one day and upper the next, rest and then repeat, but you can split into smaller body groups over more days. It depends on the time you have – better all in one go (then do a full body session), or 20 minutes a day (focus on one part each day). The other benefit to split training is DOMS – if one part is sore and needs rest, you can work another part.

Just remember to put in some rest days – overtraining could set you back.

Overtraining

If you’ve been training hard for any length of time, you would expect to have seen progress, which is motivating and encourages you to keep going.

The problems can start when you no longer see the results you expect, even after increasing the reps/volume. This could be one of the signs of reaching a plateau, but it could be you’re overtraining. Are you getting injured? Picking up every bug? Feeling irritated, de-motivated? These could all be signs you need a break.

Having a rest week won’t scupper your long term results any more than it will take away from all the hard work you put in to get to this point. Enjoy the break and use it to plan a comeback that won’t cause you to overtrain.

Seek professional advice if you’re unsure what to do, someone else looking at your training  plan might help you make changes that will see you get better results.

Pre-Post workout fuel

There are many protein bars, shakes, snacks geared towards gym goers, suggesting they hold the necessary nutrients for pre or post workout refuelling. For the most part, they contain lots of sugar, are expensive and for most of the population are not required.

Yes, if you are an athlete, you may need some extra supplements or protein and bars can help, but if you are just going to the gym for a workout, no more than an hour, and probably not that intensive, you don’t need any of that.

If you have had a healthy meal or a decent snack (think protein & carbs) an hour before you work out – then you’re fine, no extra needed. Post work out, ensure you have a meal or snack within an hour – protein is important because it will repair muscles worked. An ideal post workout snack (and easily portable) is chocolate milk – it has all the macros and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t feel like eating after the gym, it’s a good option. Just don’t go crazy with your serving size otherwise you’re hard work in the gym is undone in minutes.

Any workout will do?

You’ve probably heard sayings like – any workout is better than no workout, or, no workout is a bad workout. Not strictly true. Yes, in theory working out is better for you than not, even if that session has to be cut short – hours of endless weights/cardio isn’t necessary, you can do a quick blast – as long as you work at a harder intensity – then it’s worth it – even if it’s only 20 minutes.

But, sometimes no workout is better, if you are going to the gym or to a class, having not eaten or slept well, then you could do yourself harm. Sometimes you do need to listen to your body and rest up. If you are so tired or have so little energy, then how will you ensure correct posture and technique? These can cause injury – and that means a lot more time out of the gym. Train smart.

Machine v Weights

If you’re new to the gym all the equipment looks scary, not helped when you assume everyone else in the gym knows what they are doing – or so it seems.

Machines look confusing, but once you’ve mastered what bits move, and you can get into the right position, they can help you start off a routine. Ask a gym instructor to show you – they want to help – otherwise they are just wandering around the gym with little to do!

Free weights, look a lot less scary – you just pick a weight that suits you and lift it. Well not quite – you should still be shown how to use them, it’s too easy to injure yourself. Learn both, then decide which works best for you. Free weights do offer versatility that machines can’t – so mix it up a bit.

DOMS

Ever had a day after the gym when you can barely move part or all of your body without groaning? Yep that is DOMs. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and it means your body worked hard. That’s good, but it also means you need to rest the sore part – easier if you are split routine training – and eat plenty of protein (repairs muscles). DOMS can appear the next day or a couple of days later.

Look out for mistaking DOMS for an actual injury – if it hurts so much you need pain killers and can’t put weight on that part you may have injured yourself. Sore muscles can be really painful, but usually ease quickly and (although tough) you can use the aching part normally.

Metabolism

You will undoubtedly have heard about metabolism and that it can affect your body. It’s true definition is.

The physical and chemical processes that occur inside the cells of the body to maintain life.

Seeing it in black and white, perhaps that makes its’ importance more obvious. Exercise and diet both play a role in our metabolism, ideally we want to keep it running smoothly, but sometimes changes to our eating or exercise regime can increase or decrease it. Too little and it slows down (to reserve energy), too much and we can overload the system. In a perfect balance we do enough to keep it ticking over.

You may have heard of the Basal Metabolic Rate, which is defined as the rate at which your body uses energy when you are resting in order to keep vital functions operating – such as breathing.  Calculating your BMR using a calculator is probably easiest, as it requires varying scores for activity level. Be honest though – don’t over or under estimate too much.

Weights for women

Lifting weights will make me muscular – I don’t want to look like a man. Errr, ladies, you won’t. Why? Because you don’t have enough testosterone in your body. Yes, there are women bodybuilders who have incredible physiques – but they are training and eating in such a specific manor that most of the female population would never do.

The twice a week body tone/pump/weight session isn’t going to get you to that level! Weights will, however, give you strength, improve posture, increase bone density and make you look leaner/slimmer/fitter. Ignore the grunting men in the corner of your gym – they are just focused on what they are doing – learn the techniques from someone qualified and pick up some weights, use resistance machines or just your own body. Do what suits you and enjoy it!

 

If you always do what you’ve always done…

So you religiously hit the gym, in fact you increased it to every day for an hour or more but you’re not seeing the result you used to – it’s frustrating, de-motivating and makes you want to give up. Well, give up, not permanently, but for a week.

Rest up, take a look at your usual routine and see what you can do to shake it up. If you go to the same classes, and do the same gym routine every week for weeks (let alone months or years!) then your body isn’t being challenged in the same way it was when you first started your training routine. With most classes the routines should change every few weeks, so if you love the class and feel like you got a good work out then keep it, if you don’t – give it up. Try getting a programme written and reviewed frequently for the gym, maybe book some personal training sessions just to help you get back on track.

Work harder not longer. Cut out the stuff you really hate – don’t do the extra spinning class if you can’t stand it. Mix up your sessions with cardio and weights. Don’t stick with it too long. Results will soon come with a few simple alterations – you don’t need to be at the gym/class every single day. And of course – look at your diet! One does affect the other

Food is Fuel

Looking for performance gains? Trying to maintain, lose or gain weight/muscle. Then look at your nutrition – working hours on end in a gym won’t do you any good. Yes you need to work hard if you want to change your body, but if you don’t have the right fuel then you’ll end up with a lacklustre session – it’s frustrating and demotivating. And probably more likely to make hit the self-destruct button we all have – the one where you head to the pub or grab something quick and comforting to cheer yourself up on the way home….

Take a look at your diet, have you been eating enough protein (probably not), have you skipped carbs (probably) and not had enough water? Just one of these things can give you a set back. Use your food as fuel – you expect a car to have problems if you don’t put in enough oil/water/fuel (or put in the wrong type) – we are just the same. Eat before and after your workout – just chose your food carefully!

Find your fit

Welcome to my fitness page!

Fitness isn’t just about what you do in the gym, it’s in every day life – the walk in the park, to the shops, DIY, gardening. All these things (and many more) require a certain level fitness, and we can always improve! This page will include useful information, that can help you achieve or improve your best level of fitness. It’s about what you can do, to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

To find out more on healthy living why not visit my nutrition page, catch up with me on my blog, or to find out more about 1-2-1 Personal Training contact me.