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At first, it was great. The long speed walks on the beach twice a week, the congratulatory smoothies, the bonding feeling of the low impact aerobics class, the little buzz you got every time you went down a pants size. But now you’re ready to move on. And while you still may have feeling for the beginner’s yoga, it’s time to admit it: you’ve outgrown your workout. You’re getting nowhere on your stationary bike, ditto your treadmill. It’s time to take it up a notch.
Getting in shape is quite an accomplishment, but once you begin to reach your goals, they tend to move further away. Your body begins to adapt to your exercise routine, you hit a “plateau.” Changes become less dramatic. It’s time to increase the intensity. If you feel your workout has hit a wall, here are a few ways to push past it.
Squats are probably the ultimate builder of strength in the lower body. They challenge the hamstrings, quads, calves, and glutes while improving core strength and joint flexibility.
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One way of making your squats more challenging is by adding an overhead press, creating a compound movement, and stimulating your lower and upper body. Stand straight with your arms at your sides holding dumbbells in each hand. Perform a basic squat, concentrating on your core and perching on your heals so your thighs and knees form a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position, starting to slowly lift the dumb bells up until your arms are raised, with your elbows at 90-degree angles. Make your way back to standing position extending your arms all the way. Slowly lower arms back down to your side. Repeat the sequence 10 to 20 times.
Planks concentrate on the core muscles, building strength and stability.
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If you’re pretty confident about your planking abilities, you might want to add a “walk up” to increase calorie burn and further challenge your abdominal muscles while working your upper body. Begin in a low planking position, keeping hips stable. Lift onto your hands, first your right and then your left, into a high plank position. Lower back onto your right forearm, then onto your left, returning to starting position. Do 10-20 repetitions.
Push ups target the rear shoulder, chest, and triceps muscles, making them an ideal way of building strength in the upper body.
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If your push ups could use a pick-up, try elevating your feet for a new range of motion that challenges different areas of the pectoral muscle. Find a bench or table you can prop your feet on, placing it behind you. Start in a facedown position, with your hands supporting you and lift into a high plank, slowly raising your feet onto the bench or table, one at a time. You are now in starting position. Proceed by lowering your body toward the floor, keeping your spine straight. Repeat 8-10 times.
Have you reached a workout plateau? Let us know how you’re taking it to the next level! It’s really working for you!