Avoiding Training Plateaus
Avoid the February Slump, and Spring into Spring!
Its February now, the January fitness boom has really come to fruition. You’re pumped, motivated, and grabbing your belly fat in a fond farewell, but does it sound familiar? Didn’t you do this last year? Do people only care in January?
It’s a very broad question, but people definitely don’t just stop caring about their looks or health all of a sudden. Fitness doesn’t really just go out of fashion or become less desirable. The real issue seems to be when people start training in January they see good results, but then these results reduce coming to an eventual stop. When the results stop showing, they stop showing up. The good news is that there is a physiological reason for this reduction in visible results and spirit, and a way to keep it coming strong. An interest in fitness is a very valuable asset, so I want to help you keep hold of your New Year’s resolutions right up to December. This is the difference between being thin once, and living thin.
The reason why most diets or training programs fail is because the person does too much, usually while not eating enough. It goes against what most people believe about getting into shape, but if you do too much exercise without the proper nutrition you will be over-training, and eventually your results will come to an end. Think of it like powering a car, if you don’t put in enough fuel or oil in the car the car will over-heat, come to a stop, and then break-down.
If you have adopted a New Year training regime there’s a few things to look out for to avoid over-training, which will keep you dead centred on your goal and fitting into that bikini well before it’s needed in summer. The most important sign of whether not you are doing too much is in how you feel, both in mood and in your over-all willingness to train. If you have been ploughing through the bootcamp 6 days a week and eating scraps eventually you’ll become quite tired, and the workout will seem less and less appealing. This is your body and mind telling you that you are over-doing it.
Like the over-heating of a car that being pushed without oil, training too much or eating too little can cause your body to become acidic and stressed, and your joints get achy and your mood starts to plummet. Over-training has the same psychological effects as stress, because it is in itself a form of stress. So here’s a few steps you can take to reduce this stressful effect on your body.
First, try checking the amount of sleep you are getting. Instead of first telling you eat more or train less, we must rule out sleep. You should be getting as close to 8 hours a night as you can. Anything under 7 is enough to have a negative influence on your system. Although sleep is always important, the longer and harder you train the more important getting a full night’s sleep becomes. If however you are getting 8 hours sleep and still feeling the effects, look at your training. While it is very important to train hard, you shouldn’t do it every day.
You should be training intensely a max of 4 days a week, for no more than 40 minutes. Hour long fitness classes’ involve warm ups and talks etc, so are fine. We hear of athletes training every day, but that’s all they do, and you never really hear about the amount of rest they get. They live to train. The rest of us have to juggle our jobs and the stress of work and family, which takes its toll. Like intense exercise it is a stress that mounts against us. Try to get as much rest as possible, taking full rest days away from exercise. What you must remember is that muscles build while you rest, and lean muscle is crucial to a toned physique.
So if you appear to be getting enough sleep and are training intensely no more than 4 days a week, but are still feeling sluggish and not seeing results, the problem should be food. Obviously you could still be eating too much, but that’s obvious. This article is to help people who are eating very little and still not seeing results. These peoples metabolisms have slowed. This is caused by a defence mechanism of our body in response to a sharp a decline in calories. When you have too little energy coming in, your body starts to slow down. You feel sluggish like you’re always in 2nd gear.
You can work around this negative response and stay energetic and full of life by eating large portions of the right things. Instead of eating scraps, have big plentiful meals full of meat, fish and fresh veg. As long as you’re eating large portions of these foods in your 3 main meals, maybe snacking twice, you will always have energy and you will remain in a fat burning state right up to December. Eat the bulk of your diet like this, with small portions of fruit and other carbohydrates thrown in. The key is to eat healthy, but lots of healthy! Your metabolism stays strong when you keep eating, but the food you are eating has little calories so you continue to lose weight.
These small things to check will be the difference between crashing the best efforts in February and being a different person come summer. Remember, if you don’t continue to feel motivated training, and feel fitter and more energetic as a result, you might be over-training.
– It is over training that brings a lot of diets to its knees, not a lack of commitment
– Doing too much can be even more detrimental than not doing enough
– The key to fitness is a strong metabolism, so keep eating big meals of the right things, and often
– Protein helps you build muscle and keeps you burning fat, so eat lots of meat and fish
– Adequate sleep is essential to your results. Get as close to 8 hours as you can.
– Not getting enough sleep can put you into stressful state and kill your fitness program
– Not eating calories can cause your body to slow down to match your intake; you must eat enough calories to increase your metabolism.
– Don’t over-do your training, this can be detrimental to your progress. Train intensely no more than 4 times a week for 40 minutes.