What to Do When Your Workouts Stop Working

Posted in: Exercise
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Susan Ohtake, Certified Personal Trainer

Susan Ohtake, CPT

Has it ever happened to you?

Many of us are excited when we first start a new workout regime, right?!? We see the pounds dropping off, we're feeling great, and toning up in all the right areas! We may even drop a pant size or two!

We feel like we've finally found what actually works after all those other failed attempts. But, after some time, the results stop happening. Weight loss grinds to a halt! Frustrations mount!

What do you do next? What should you do next? What do you do when results suddenly STOP, even though you're regularly working out?

The Workout Rut is Real

When we see results, we repeat what we are doing to maintain those results. You end up doing the same thing, over and over again.

If a little bit is good, then more is great, right? Well, not always, especially when it comes to exercise. Although we are naturally creatures of habit, it's so important that we switch it up sometimes. You can still workout everyday, but you shouldn't do the same exercise every single day.

When you repeat the same exercise over and over again it won't be long before your body adapts. When your body adapts, then you'll no longer burn fat in the same way. You'll reach that weight loss plateau that nobody likes!

Your body gets used to doing what you're doing. Once your body gets used to your workouts, you need to give it something new.

How to Keep Getting Results

Fighting adaptation is actually easier than you think, but it requires some creativity! For starters, you have to get out of your rut and be willing to embrace change.

If you are a runner, you should switch up your routine. Maybe instead of running for hours you try sprints instead. Not only will you shave off a bunch of time, but you'll also burn more fat.

If your spin class isn't working for you anymore, try other similar, but more productive exercises instead. For example, the stationary bike HIIT workout is only a 4 minute exercise, but it'll bring better results than a 45 minute class.

If you're NOT up for trying something new...then you need to add intensity or duration. You need to give your body a NEW stress to adapt to. That's how you fight adaptation.

The Benefits of Variety

Variety actually offers a lot of benefits. It keeps your mind sharp and engaged. When you anticipate something new, exciting, and challenging, it can motivate you to keep at it. We all know that sometimes workouts can get boring so it's important to break out of your routine. Who wants to climb on the same elliptical or stairmaster day after day, week after week! It loses excitement. And boredom can make many people stop working out at all!

Variety also keeps your metabolism working at its best and most efficient! Higher metabolism helps your body burn more calories and fat. It'll also help you achieve your ideal weight (whatever that may be)!

Lastly, switching up your routine will prevent you from getting a repetitive strain injury. Overused muscles and joints need to rest before being put into action again.

But...Be Careful!

While it's wonderful to make changes, it's also crucial to ensure you're not changing it up too much.

Your body needs to learn what you want it to do. Your muscles need time to build strength and tone, which is part of adaptation. When you switch things up too much you won’t allow your muscles to maximize its potential.

Ultimately, you should give your body time to benefit from an activity, but not too much time. Some fitness experts suggest that three to four weeks is a sufficient amount of time. Although, there is some debate around this.

No matter what you decide, always start a new workout regime slowly. Allow your body and your mind to get used to it! Slowly increase the length of time that you are working out and the intensity of your workout! Your metabolism will rev up! Your body will tone up! And, you will likely lose weight!

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