Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leveling Up: How to Break Through the Plateau

Wait!  This is not the only post for today!  I also posted a small bit of my NaNoWriMo as an apology for not updating yesterday, go check it out!  Also, our current quest, Activate the Book of Faces, made significant progress, doubling our Facebook "like" count!  We're sitting at 34 likes at the time of this post, which means that 16 more and you guys get a bonus weekend character breakdown!  Way to go, guys!

So, hopefully if you've been following this blog for a while, you've picked a workout program and started to go with it.  If not, why not?  You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. =D  Even if I haven't covered the exact character archetype you'd like to model yourself after yet, it's always good to establish a "baseline."  This post is going to be for people who have been working out for a while, and feel as though your progress has slowed, or stopped, and you're just "going through the motions" and seeing no improvement.

In fitness communities, this is known as the dreaded PLATEAU.  They suck, because you feel like you're working your butt off for little to no benefit.  We're going to take a look at how to shake things up so you can gain a level or two and get off the grind.

Up the Weight
This may seem rather straightforward, but if you're not challenging yourself, you won't get better.  Your muscles adapt and overcome the situations you present them with.  If they're already used to lifting a certain weight in a strength exercise, they're not going to get any better by lifting it more(at least not from a strength perspective, but they will gain more endurance if you go higher reps.  More on that later).  For lifting regimens, like the Kratos sandbag workouts, this is simple, just add more weight.  But for bodyweight-based workouts this can be tricky. Chances are, while getting more in shape, you've also lost weight.  This actually makes your bodyweight exercises easier for your body to perform.  Personally, I'm a big fan of adding weight to bodyweight exercises, so maybe you want to try adding a backpack with ten pounds of books or sand to your pushup sets.  Experiment, and take it slow.

Increase the Intensity
This is great for cardio-heavy workouts like Link's.  Try to shave time off your runs, or insert some sprints here and there.  If you're doing lots of bodyweight stuff as your strength training, try doing the reps faster, and maybe throw in an extra set, or something along those lines.

Change the Exercises
This requires a bit more know-how and research on your part, but sometimes the best thing to do is switch an exercise in your routine out for a different one.  Remember, the workout programs I provide here are basic outlines and introductions, they can, and should, be changed as you get more physically fit.  When you switch out an exercise, try to pick one that compliments.  Like, maybe instead of doing weighted pushups, you can do weighted dips, or butterfly curls and tricep extension with dumbells.   I'm looking to start a video compendium of exercises soon that will categorize them according to muscle groups, hopefully when I get that done this will make this easier.

First of all, you should be getting plenty of sleep at night, especially if you're feel like you're plateauing due to fatigue or lack of drive.  Eight hours is a good guideline to shoot for for an adult, more if you're not an adult yet.  This is a lot of sleep, and most people don't get this much, but you'd be surprised how good it is for your body.  The other kind of rest I'm talking about is just taking a break from your workouts for a week or two.  I mean, still stay active, go on walks and stuff, but just take a week off without doing any serious training.  It sounds counter-intuitive, but the idea is you give your body as much time to recover as it could possibly need, then come back.  Sometimes it just needs a vacation =)

I'm sure you're already following the Big Guy diet or the Fighter Diet.  Right?  Right?  ಠ_ಠ  Anyway, sticking to your diet is really, really important for your body.  Remember to get your protein in, and keep your food at a relatively regular interval, ideally every 2-3 hours in moderate portions.  Your body can't repair itself without fuel.

So there's some ideas for plateauing.  If you find yourself stuck, and you still have problems after trying these, feel free to message me on Facebook, or leave a comment here.

Tomorrow we should be moving on to a new character(although I'm not sure who, yet, any suggestions?).  Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter,  like the blog page on Facebook, and continue to be awesome!

Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace  

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