Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Plateau anyone? My experience and some suggestions on how to deal with it.

I just want to preface this note for those that are in the blog world seeing this that do not know me personally. First off, I'm not a exercise scientist.I'm a common 25 year old female that love exercise and is a new Personal Fitness Trainer. What I know (and mostly write about) is what I have learned from personal as well as others personal experience.I just want to share it with those that may be having similar experiences. If you have something to add or correct PLEASE feel free to comment down below. Thank you!

So, for those that know me, I'm right around my healthy weight. I didn't go on this adventure to "lose weight" but more so become healthier and toner. Back when I was marching winter guard (2008) I was doing 24 hours (6pm-Midnight Friday & 8am-10pm Saturday) of practice on the weekend plus weight lifting 2 days a week. That was probably the best shape I was ever in (i'm getting close to it tho!!)

I started taking a lot of cardio classes (dancing/toning/strengthening/yoga) as well as training for the 5K here in LA back in February. I started seeing results right away. My arms were getting toner, my tank tops didn't have a bulge in the middle anymore, and my knees were getting much stronger.

Right around the beginning of April, I stopped seeing changes. My weight went back up to where I had started. I was dumbfounded. I really tried calculating my calories, eating healthier and still no change. The dance studio, I'm at, offers around 70+ classes and I realized I needed to take more advantage of them. While studying for my PFT exam I needed help with muscle memorization, a friend of mine (who is a certified PFT) suggested I take this sculpting class because the instructor talks about the muscles being used while doing exercises. Basically it is a weight lifting class including cardio and core training. After 1 day of taking it I noticed a HUGE response with my body and I wasn't sore afterwards. I also noticed my strength and stamina were much better in my cardio classes, during the strength training portion. I now try to get to one of the weight training classes at least twice a week.

It has really sculpted my arms and my stomach. I also love to celebrate the small weight changes as well. I began the class with using 2 and 3 pound weights (we do 1 exercise : front raises or bicep curls, for an entire length of a song= LOTS of reps) and now when I'm at the fitness gym I use 5 pounds to my own playlist and use 4 lbs (mostly) at the studio. I've done a lot of research and have really tried to follow the correct format ( as well as what they use at the dance studio) to get the maximum results as well as a good response from my body = NO MORE PLATEAU

Here are some of the best ways (I have been taught/researched) to get the best results from a workout using weights.

1. Static stretching for 8-10 minutes
2. Some form of cardio to get your core warm/lose, not be as sore afterwards, as well as a raise in your body temp.
      a. When I'm on my own I like to do about 10 minutes on the treadmill and run for about a mile, whichever comes first

Afterwards you can do the weight exercises really anyway you prefer. However, it's important to really work the larger muscles/groups first (biceps vs triceps etc) Also, If I do 2-3 arm exercises, I try to give them a little rest and focus on either my legs/abs and the revisit the previous area.

3. In my class we use the body bar a lot at the beginning (I use a 9 pound bar) and do many over head presses. In the gym they range from 10-20lbs (the 10lb is always taken) so I use the 20lb and don't do as many reps and rest more in between

     Reps- When I'm by myself, I know I'm more likely to give in to pain quicker than when I'm in class. SO, When I'm working a muscle area that I KNOW needs work/is weak= Triceps for me, I interchange them with pulses, instead of doing the whole range of motion A. it's harder and B. it gives GREAT results. When I'm getting to the point when my body wants to stop I count down from 8, and then count back up to 8 and then back down. Sometimes if I feel like I can do more I continue the pattern again. It really keeps me from quitting early and pushes me past where I think I can go.

4. More movement- One thing that I really owe a HUGE thanks to my instructors is the knowledge of using more muscles. If you can move a leg while you're doing something with your arm DO IT! it gives you more balance, burns MORE calories, and helps with coordination.
     a. I HATE sitting at a bench and doing arm weight lifting. A it's boring and B don't we sit enough hours a day?  SO get off of you're thang! lol
      This is something we ALWAYS do in class. We have our legs moving during our arm exercises. It tones you're legs, strengthens you're hamstrings/quads and your BUTT. It's also great to change it up every now and then and use opposite legs and arms. It's like the whole pat your head and rub you're stomach, it's fun :)

SO.. Plateau, don't be discourage. It can mean lots of things, but in the long run your body is actually close to it's goal weight OR your body has adjusted to the routine/pattern of what you've given it and it's time to shake things up. Instead of just walking on the treadmill, do some crunches or find some 2.5 weights and start out doing 8-12 bicep curls 2-3 times. The trick is to confuse you're body. Make it always guessing.

I hope this encourages someone or helps someone with some problems with they are having. Keep pushing, you can do it.

Stay Healthy!


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