It's normal to hit a plateau now and then in your exercise regimen, but if you feel like no matter how hard or often you work out you don't see any changes in your body, it might be because you're missing out on these important little tweaks that will dramatically improve your results. They are simple to implement and will help you finally sculpt your body to reflect the beautiful fitness pro you already know you are. Just because your workout isn't working as well as you want it to doesn't mean you're not doing enough; you just need to work smarter, not harder. Follow these guidelines to ensure you get the most out of your workout, and get ready to love the physical results you'll see in the mirror.
Incorporate HIIT Into Your Workout
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, has become one of the latest fitness buzzwords, but you may not know what it means or why it's important. So what is HIIT? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT "involves repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times." Put simply, that means when you exercise you alternate between pushing yourself to your maximum effort for a few minutes then letting yourself rest for a few minutes, before repeating the cycle again. So, if you usually run for 30 minutes on the treadmill at a steady pace, you should try sprinting for a few minutes then walking for a few minutes, then repeat for as long as you can. You can apply this process to any workout by pushing yourself as hard as you can before taking a break. There's also an extra bonus to doing HIIT: you won't need to necessarily work out for as long as you did before, since you'll get results in a shorter amount of time by quickly pushing your body to the max.
Shake Up Your Routine
Along with trying HIIT, there are additional ways to break out of your comfort zone, that dreaded place where plateaus are born. If you usually do the same workout consistently, your body has adapted to perform that exercise effectively, which is great, but it also means you're no longer challenging your muscles, which is crucial if you want to change their appearance or lose excess fat. If you normally do the same circuit of machines at your gym, maybe try out one of their group classes, or if you're a faithful yogi, maybe throw in a cycling class now and then. Doing different exercises activates new muscles and pushes your body in different ways, leading to improved overall fitness.
Don't Ignore Your Diet
Studies have shown that focusing on changing your diet and exercise at the same time will help you get the most out of your fitness regimen. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just add more tone to your muscles, you need to be conscious of what you're putting into your body to make sure it's helping you accomplish your goals instead of setting you back. Start by implementing a workout routine first, and then begin making changes in your diet. Vegetables remain the champion of all food groups when it comes to health; you basically can never eat too many. Aim to get at least five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and limit your intake of processed foods and saturated fats. If you run for an hour every day but are then snacking on chips and drinking a couple margaritas afterwards, you're not going to see the results you want. All calories are not created equal: consider 100 calories from zucchini, carrots, and kale versus 100 calories from a cookie. They may be the same caloric count, but the nutritional values are vastly different. Those veggies will give you the fuel your body needs to power through a workout, whereas a cookie, while delicious, doesn't give your body a whole lot to work with.
Stay Active The Rest Of Your Day
Most Americans have jobs that require them to sit all day, usually at a desk in front of a computer. While succeeding at your career is important, all that sitting is dramatically hurting your overall health. Sitting increases your chances of developing Type-2 diabetes and certain cancers, and is even more deadly than obesity. That can be pretty horrifying to hear, especially when you consider that while 20-30 minutes of daily exercise reduces these effects, it's still not quite enough to eliminate them altogether. You also will not see the fitness results you want if you work out for an hour a day and then spend the rest of it completely sedentary. Thankfully, you do not need to up and quit your marketing job and become a yoga instructor to get the body you want (although if that's your heart's true calling, all the more power to you!). You just need to be mindful about moving constantly throughout the day, staying active whenever possible. A fitness tracker can be a helpful tool to remind you to get up and move more frequently, and will encourage you to get at least 10,000 steps a day to stay healthy. Try to take your conference calls on your cell phone as you walk around the block, or maybe consider converting to a treadmill desk to keep your blood pumping even while you read your emails.
Take Time To Rest
Keep in mind that with fitness, more is not necessarily better. You don't need to exercise for three hours a day to get a sculpted body, nor should you be exercising every single day; in fact, working out too much may be hindering your results instead of helping. Your muscles need time to rest and rebuild to make you stronger for your next sweat session, so consider your day of rest an important part of your exercise schedule. Make sure you're also getting enough sleep, since sleep deprivation can actually lead to weight gain. Plus, the better you sleep, the more energy you'll have to tackle tomorrow's new challenging workout to get the results you've been working towards. Besides, even Kate Hudson has to rest now and then.