What to Do When You've Hit a Fitness Plateau - Trick Your Body With These Easy Tips

By Dave DiFabio

Have your results plateaued? Chances are your routine has just become too routine. If you do the same thing over and over again you shouldn't expect different results. Here are five tips on how to get out of a rut and get some new results.

Go food shopping:
If you have items in your refrigerator and cupboards that do not fit within the guidelines of being healthy and nutritious, get rid of them. Don't want to throw anything out? Then donate it to a local food bank. Many food banks are low on supplies these days.

Do some sort of physical activity every day to elevate your hear rate for 20 minutes. Something is better than nothing especially if that something is done consistently. So even if "something" means going for a walk or gardening, just do it!

When you "Just Do It", do it right. To ensure that your exercise is effective as possible, you need to make sure the intensity is optimal. It most cases, keeping track of your heart rate is the best possible method for gauging intensity.

It is well established that another valid and reliable way to gauge and track intensity is to use the Borg RPE (ratings of perceived exertion) Scale. Print the scale below and keep it handy or hang it on a wall so you can look at it while you're working out.

6 No exertion at all 7 Extremely light 8 9 Very light 10 11 Light 12 13 Somewhat hard 14 15 Hard (heavy) 16 17 Very hard 18 19 Extremely hard 20 Maximal exertion

Use the RPE scale to rate your own perception of your exertion while engaged in physical activity. There is no wrong or right answer. However to make this subjective rating as objective as possible you should be very honest with yourself. Ask yourself, "How much am I sweating, how hard am I breathing, and how tired are my muscles?" Your rating should reflect how strenuous the exercise feels to you, combining all feelings of physical stress, effort and fatigue. "6" is how you feel at rest and "20" means you working as hard as you possibly can and can't do more.

When you warm up and cool down you should be somewhere between 9 and 11 RPE. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, if you're interested in achieving health benefits then 20 minutes at 12 to 13 RPE, 3 days per week will do the trick. However, if fitness and aesthetic results are what you're after, then a RPE of 14 to 16, 5 days per week is what you should be after. If you're engaged in high intensity interval training then RPEs of 17 to 20 may also be likely during the work interval.

Break out the iPod. Put some music on while you workout. Music can help with motivation, coordination and pacing. Furthermore up-tempo music may actually increase strength. For some people, music can also facilitate dissociation, meaning it can distract you from the "exercise-burn" at least for a little while

Be patient (and consistent). Workout and diet plans that promise 30 lbs of weight loss in 30 days should come with a saw and instructions for severing a leg because that's the only way you're going to quickly take 30 lbs off and keep it off. However if you're patient and consistent, here's what you can expect in 5 weeks:

5 to10 lbs of fat loss or up to 5 lbs of added muscle. You'll also get improved self-esteem and self-efficacy, lower resting heart rate and blood pressure, an improved blood lipid profile, and reduced stress levels. I don't know about you, but I'd trade that for a severed leg any day. Just remember that your results are not going to happen over night and you can't do anything about tomorrow's workout until tomorrow gets here. So just stay focused on today. Do what it takes to get better today.

Till next time... Train Like You Play, Play Like You Train

Dave DiFabio MA, CSCS, USAW

Owner/Strength & Conditioning Coach - Team Speed Fitness LLC