My top 3 ways that turned into my top 5 ways and now sits at my top 7 ways to shake up your fitness routine… ready?

So on Monday you go for a light jog and on Wednesday you go to “toning” class (oh how I dislike that word) and on Friday you go to step class and on Monday you go for a light jog and on Wednesday you go to toning class and… wow, can you say Groundhog Day? (for those of you that aren’t my age that’s my reference to a movie with Bill Murray… go look it up) No wonder you ran into a rut and are looking for something to shake you out of the fitness doldrums. I wanted to make a top 3 list of things you can do to ignite a new fire in yourselves because, well, everyone likes lists and coming up with 3 didn’t seem like too much work for me but as usual I just have too much to say. So, in no particular order…

1. Get Out Of The Fat Burning Zone

The truth is, if you are sitting down reading this on your computer then you are in the fat burning zone right now. (mind blown—pow!) That’s right, doing absolutely nothing means you are using fat as a major fuel source but of course the problem is you are burning so few calories in a resting state that it doesn’t really do any good for weight loss goals… but still, you are in the fat burning zone!

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If you jog, bike, use a treadmill, rower, stepper etc. try this the next time you are doing “cardio”. Start off at your normal lower-intensity pace (called steady-state aerobics) but then every 3 minutes, increase the intensity to say a 7 or 8 out of 10 (that’s if you were to rate your intensity on a scale of 1 to 10… or about 75% of your max heart rate if you use that method). Stay at this increased intensity for 1 minute then lower your intensity again for 3 minutes… repeat, repeat, repeat for as long as you have time for in that session. Why it works: With the higher intensity work you actually are burning more calories from carbohydrates BUT the total calories burned are higher with this method of training THUS the total amount of fat calories burned is higher too. WIN!

2. Involve Total Body Moves

There is nothing wrong with standing in one spot doing biceps curls BUT if your goal is weight loss or general body conditioning then involve more total body movements. You recruit more muscles, burn more calories and most of the total body exercises are more functional in nature. An example is a Squat to Curl to Press move with a dumbbell. Don’t have dumbbells? No problem… squats to toes raise, jump jacks, burpess, push-ups and my personal favourite a Jack-Push-Climb (1 jump jack-1 push up-1 mountain climber back to back to 10 reps… I know eh?) all use multiple muscles making them a total body move. If you want to start off easy then why not insert a total body move into your normal routine; something like say after your shoulder presses do jump jacks right after for 30 seconds. Insert a total body-bodyweight move after every resistance exercises.

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3. Put Down The Light Weights

Have you ever walked by a “toning” class and see a group of people with their 3 pound weights doing curls and presses? Ya well, don’t do that. First of all, there isn’t really such a thing as “toning up” as a fitness goal. The word tone actually means the normal tension found in a muscle but popular media has misconstrued this word in order to sell gadgets that that don’t really work. Most often, if someone says they wish to tone up, what they really mean is they want to increase their muscle definition. With that goal in mind you can then put away your fancy devises that you were coaxed to buy from late-night infomercials. To create muscle definition you must do 2 things… create some muscle and lose fat in order to expose the muscle. Simply put, lifting light weights won’t build lean muscle mass so opt for something heavier that you can lift in the 8-10 rep range. That newly built muscle takes more energy to maintain so what that means to you is you are burning MORE calories in a day just to maintain your new muscle. WIN!

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4. Involve Family And Friends

Take your spouse or friend for that morning jog with you. There is nothing like having company along for the ride and hey, you can feed off each other’s success and be there for each other for encouragement. If you can’t coax anyone to go along with you at least tell people about your goals and what you are trying to do so that when you need a boost, they will be there for you. And why not involve some activity at your next back-yard BBQ? Set up a tug-of-war or set up some cones in your back yard and have a team relay race. If it sounds silly then trust me… it moves from silly to fun in a hurry when you try it! It’s a great way to get everyone moving with you… you aren’t just exercising when you have on fancy exercise clothes you know. Exercise is any kind of movement. WIN!

5. Nutrition

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Sorry but I had to put something about this right? After-all, what you eat is going to be like 80% of your success in weight loss. So, if you’ve hit a snag and you aren’t losing weight anymore then check what you are eating because something went wrong somewhere. Don’t forget… with all that exercise and eating healthy during your pre-plateau days you were losing weight. Losing weight means you aren’t carrying around as much “you” as you were before so that means you don’t have to eat as much to maintain your body weight. You should always keep in mind that you may need to readjust your calorie intake from time to time to account for your bodies need given your new weight. Also, it may not hurt to keep a food log for a week or so just to see. It is ALWAYS (and I mean like ALWAYS) better to write it down than to rely on your memory.

6. Don’t Be Discouraged

Never, and I mean never, compare yourself to the ads you see in magazines or on TV. Most often they are fitness models and it’s their job to look the way they do. That is a full-time job in itself. Plateaus happen to everyone and you need to congratulate all the successes you have had and be happy with where you are and what you accomplished. Plateaus are temporary if you know what to do to work your way out of one… then you will start to see new success!

7. Seek Out A Personal Trainer

Don’t always rely on Doctor Google to find your next workout routine. Circuit training, metabolic training, drop sets, stage training… ugh!! It can be confusing to say the least. Let your trainer worry about all the latest research… it’s their job. Most Personal Trainer certifications require the trainer to take continuing education in order to maintain their certifications so most are well qualified to help you and sort out the fads from the facts. What’s best is that they can design a personalized routine just for you and your goals and preferences. Home workout DVDs are awesome but they are meant to appeal to a wide audience and those programs may not be right for you and your particular abilities.

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That should be enough for now to get you out of your slump. Remember, plateaus are temporary and everyone hits one from time to time and maybe I’ll sneak in a #8 just to close out. Don’t forget to rest! Over-training can be a big contributor to hitting a stalemate. It’s not a bad idea to take a few days off from time to time to rest up and then hit the ground running again when you return.

As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Youth Exercise Specialist, I specialize in helping people lose weight, increase lean body mass and reach their general fitness goals. With years of experience, I have helped people of all ages become more active and increase their self-esteem in the process.