Getting into a good workout routine is always a good thing — that is, until you suddenly feel like it's not challenging anymore. Once you build your initial strength, it can feel like what you're doing is no longer enough, which means it's time to incorporate some new ways to take your workout to the next level. If going on your usual morning run isn't doing it anymore, it doesn't mean you're stuck; it's just time to start being more strategic about your workouts to maximize your results.
"Your body is a very smart machine that adapts physically and mentally to almost anything," says celebrity trainer Dominic Banks to Bustle over email. "When you stop noticing change or your desired results, you have hit what we call in the fitness world 'a plateau.' The body and mind crave a challenge and requires a change from your daily routine to get stronger."
Whether you feel like your exercise rut is a result of something mental or physical, it's time to get out of it to keep your motivation going. If you feel like you have hit a plateau and are looking to take your workout to the next level, try these 11 ways to kick your workout up a notch according to science.
1. Load Up On Nutrients
"Your workouts will vastly improve if you have a balanced diet of protein, carbs, and yes, even fats," says Banks. "Fats support cell growth, give you energy, and aid in absorbing nutrients. It may go against everything you've thought of, but fats are incredibly important if you'd like to increase the intensity of your workouts." Studies also show that carbohydrates are especially important before a workout, as they can help you train for longer, according to LiveScience.
2. Try Circuit Training
High-intensity circuit training can allow you to do an extremely impactful workout in just a short amount of time. One study from Aberdeen University found that 2.5 minutes of high-intensity exercise can be just as effective as running for 90 minutes at a moderate pace. "Implement circuit training by completing a series of three to four strength exercises back to back with little to no rest in between," says fitness expert Dempsey Marks to Bustle over email. "This will help add intensity to your workouts."
3. Add Some Incline
"If you’re a runner or cyclist, incorporate some hills into your training," says Marks. "Either increase the incline on the treadmill or find a hill outside to complete hill repeats on. It will help build power and strength." Adding an incline can help you build muscle, and improve your heart health, according to multiple studies.
4. Drink Some Coffee
Enjoying a cup of coffee before a workout can give you more energy that not only motivates you to workout, but it can enhance your performance and energy expenditure as well, according a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. To top that, another study from the Journal of Applied Physiology found that drinking a couple cups of coffee before a workout can actually make it feel more enjoyable.
5. Work Out With A Friend
Working out with a partner not only holds you accountable, but it can also boost your performance. Research from Michigan State University found that working out with a partner improves your motivation, and participants who were paired with a slightly stronger virtual exercise partner held a plank for longer compared to when they worked out alone.
7. Work Out Outside
Exercise by itself is great, but working out outside is even better. A study from the journal Environmental Science and Technology found that participants who exercised outdoors felt more energetic, more revitalized, and less angry than people who worked out indoors.
7. Add Cardio To The End
Strength training and cardio do not have to be separate. A study from the journal Applied Physiology found that adding in a cardiovascular exercise doesn't take away from building muscle — it actually increases muscle size. "I highly recommend adding in a cardio intervals at the END of your workout," says James Kilgallon, CSCS to Bustle over email. "This way you will still get the EPOC effect, which will boost your metabolism without taking away from your lifts."
8. Incorporate Isometrics
Isometric exercises – which consist of contracting a muscle and holding it in that position — can help improve your overall strength, according to a study from the journal Experimental Physiology. Some basic isometric exercises include the plank, the wall sit, and shoulder extension.
9. Try A Balancing Act
Most people's usual workout routine doesn't put an emphasis on balance, but this component of exercise is also important. Exercises that incorporate balance stimulate more core muscles than the same exercises done in a stable position, according to a study in the Current Sports Medicine. Reports. Try doing some yoga poses or use a BOSU balance trainer.
10. Hold Yourself Accountable
Whether you discuss your fitness plans with friends, you're putting yourself at an advantage by conveying your workout plans for other. Studies show that having emotional and social support can help increase the likelihood of you reaching your fitness goals. Running a marathon sometime soon? Join a running group on Facebook to talk about your latest timed run and sprint circuits.
11. Change Your Routine
Doing something different can help you incorporate other muscles and avoid a plateau. "Simply switch up the type of workout you’re doing," says Dempsey. "Lifting, running, yoga, spin classes, Pilates — there are so many different types of exercise out there. Try something new to challenge your body in a unique way."
The more you add on to your workouts, the better they will be, but use these tips to switch up your routine and to avoid getting bored of what you're already doing.
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