Before I start working with a new client, I take time to inquire about my client’s goals, time commitment, and capabilities. Saying to me, “I want to lose weight but it doesn’t matter when” is as noncommittal as saying, “Someday I’d like to fly a kite”. Together we develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) goals which I use to create a routine that I (as any personal trainer) dream will be adhered to, impeccably.
I want to highlight that in order to avoid a body plateau, every fitness routine should be varied and incorporate a mix of endurance, strength and power exercises to achieve best results. Endurance training is aerobic training for the long haul. We are talking about the ability to walk for extended periods of time, run middle or long distance, cycle or swim for more than thirty minutes at a time. Having the stamina to keep up with life starts right here. Keep in mind endurance training for sport or performance is different and more rigorous, but practically speaking, endurance training needs to be a part of everyone’s fitness routine to develop a healthy heart in the long term.
Functional movements such as squatting, lifting, lunging and rotating are some simple daily activities that can bring a lot of pain to thousands of people every day. How many times have I heard someone say to me, ‘Oh I can’t squat because I have bad knees’! However, when these muscle groups are strengthened, you can enable yourself to live a greater quality of life. Consider the grandmother who is strong enough to lift her grandbaby. The ‘one less trip to the car’ to get groceries. We’ve all done that, you load up your arms with grocery bags because no matter what you will NOT be returning for a second trip. So rather than relying upon grocery shopping trips to build muscle, let’s start adding strength training (also referred to as resistance or load training) into your routine. Strength training can be done 2-3 times per week. I recommend splitting your routine with large muscles one day, (chest, full leg, back, shoulders) and small muscles the other day (biceps, triceps, core). Depending on your fitness level, you can modify repetitions and weights, but a general starting point is 2-3 sets and 8-12 reps. Perfect your bodyweight form before you add load. Consult with a personal trainer to ensure your form is correct to prevent injury.
I also incorporate power (anaerobic training), which is the product of strength and speed. Power gives us the ability to bicep curl quickly and with resistance. Muscles love power because they are metabolic – they are working all the time. Muscles like to be stretched. Power is also vertical jumping or lifting very heavy weights quickly. It’s the mojo that enables you to cross a street four lane intersection before the light changes. Power prevents you from falling, or tripping, when you catch yourself quickly. Power is also a great adrenaline rush.
All of the best exercise in the world is of no value unless it is coupled with clean nutrition. Get 95-110 grams of protein per day, drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day, and eat as fresh and from the source as possible. By varying your workout routine with elements of cardio, strength, power and rest, you will be on your way to avoiding plateau and developing your body into the best shape for YOU.