Are These Habits Getting in the Way of Progress?
“I go to the gym all the time, and nothing happens.” This complaint isn’t uncommon for personal trainers to hear from clients.
Going to the gym a few times each week to do the elliptical or ride a bike is a great way to keep active. The gym can be a great way to disconnect. I often see people going with friends to talk and catch up. Many read a book or their phones when working out. There’s really nothing wrong with this. It’s healthy from both a physical, and mental, standpoint.
However, real change in cardio vascular health or body composition can only come from progressing your fitness program.
Here are 7 tips to progress your fitness program, whether it be weight training or aerobics, to see real change in your cardio vascular health and/or body composition.
- Be mindful of your exercise. I’ve discussed mindful eating on the blog a lot. The same applies to exercise. We’ve got “multitasking” ingrained in our brains. It makes us feel like not a second has been wasted. Think quality, not quantity. This is, perhaps, why I love yoga. Yoga, however “still” it may seem, is a grueling exercise in mindfulness. For yoga to be effective, you must be aware of your body position, muscles. Today, when you head for the gym, put Dostoyevsky away and pay attention to your body.
- Make a plan. Progression, in any field, any area, depends on thoughtful planning. For those trying to cut sugar out of their diets, they take logical steps to reduce it. The same goes for exercise. What is the logical progression? Where do you want to take your body next?
- Get uncomfortable. This isn’t the same as “no pain, no gain”. “No pain, no gain,” has been an exercise mantra for years now. And it’s completely false. It can be not only unsafe for your body but completely demoralizing. That said, if you’re stuck in your comfort zone of exercise and aren’t pushing yourself, your body won’t change either. It’s hard to bite those exercise habits that feel so good.
- Progress your workout. As said above, we’re creatures of habit. And change, for anybody, can be discouraging. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The change is under your control. You can change the number of reps you do, the weight, the intensity or speed, the duration and types of exercises. Other options are to change the type of resistance (from bands to free weights), the position of the exercise you’re doing, or even by adding balance (a ball, foam roller, or inflatable disc). Small changes can make a big difference to progress your fitness program.
- Hire a personal trainer. Gyms can be daunting. A personal trainer will not only find ways to fit exercise into your life and help create a fitness plan with you, but she will also help keep you accountable. She’ll work to find the best ways for you to progress.
- Hydrate! Our hearts and cells need water. And lots of it. Cells need water to synthesize energy. If we’re dehydrated, our heart has to work extra hard to pump our blood. Drink before you exercise, while you exercise, and after you exercise. This will reduce risk of cramping, will keep you feeling invigorated (and ready for one last rep), and can help you regulate your body temperature.
- Eat well. Exercise without appropriate nutrition can be devastating for your body. Take the time to nourish yourself. Take the time to care for yourself.
If you’re feeling like you’re in an exercise rut, like you’re not improving, change things up. Be mindful of what you’re doing. And bump it up a notch to progress your cardio and body composition.