Where did summer go?
I cannot believe I’m saying this, but school is just around the corner and it really got me thinking about my many years as a student.
The beginning of every school year was really hard for me. New teacher, room, classmates, and school supplies – I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was.
Why couldn’t that teacher I LOVED from 5th grade move with me to 6th grade?
Why couldn’t my school planner have enough pages for this year? My old one had everything I needed!
Why does everything have to change??
Change wasn’t easy for me in school, and it definitely wasn’t easy for me in life.
What can I say? I like the norm. I like routine. And if it’s working, why change it?
Despite being averse to change in school, I found a way to adjust to all the new school year changes and settle into a new routine.
When it came to sports, friends, and later on, jobs, I was no different. I would stress myself out about the changes, threaten to quit altogether, do it anyway, and everything
turned out fine.
Why do we get so worked up about change?
Change is a part of what makes us grow! Our bodies are designed to maintain the norm, and the only way to strengthen or change our bodies is to force it outside of the norm.
That’s easier said than done.
Change might lead to soreness. It might point out some weak areas that we swear we didn’t have. Or it might require us to do something we really don’t like.
As a coach, this is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make.
You find a style of workouts or a collection of workouts you enjoy.
You see some pretty incredible results after a month, so you decide there’s no need to change anything and you commit to another month of the same program.
You still see some results after month two, but you decide that they’re less significant because you could have pushed yourself a little bit harder.
You roll it right into a third month, but at the end there’s no change.
Better yet? You’re shoulder and elbow are bugging you from al the presses and curls.
At this point, I see one of two things:
- Give these workouts a fourth month and really crank up the intensity.
- Or you quit altogether.
Neither is the right answer.
You saw great results after the first month because it was something your body had never done before! Not because you found the Holy Grail of fitness programs.
If your body did so well with something new the first month, why wouldn’t you want to give it something new the next month to see if it can respond just as well?
Do you know what the best part about having a coach for my workouts is?
I am paying him to change up my program every four to five weeks, so my body has to face some new exercises, weights, sets, and reps.
He doesn’t care one bit about my aversion to change because he knows that in order to get stronger, my body needs to consistently face a new stimulus.
None of us want to stop seeing results.
You may have a slight aversion to change, but most of the time you stick the program because you’re not quite sure HOW to change.
That’s where I want to help provide you with some easy ways to do that so you can continue to see progress with your fat loss goals.
As a student, I had to work really hard for my grades.
Those kids who seemed to have answers just appear to them?
Yep, hated them.
I used every acronym and mnemonic in the book to remember information for quizzes and tests.
For the best strategies on HOW to change up your workout, I decided to take it old school and give you a mnemonic to help you remember!
C – CLOSER
How are you finishing your workout?
Are you just finishing your last set of lunges and heading off to the locker room?
Finishers are a GREAT way to change up your workout routine and really push fat loss.
They are specifically designed to use a few exercises to add a quick boost to your cardiovascular and/or muscular workload and really “finish off” your workout.
Finishers are also a great way to add a twist or shake up your workout through the incorporation of some of the “fun” or unique exercises. Unlike your training program, they don’t necessarily need to be the same from week-to-week.
Now, don’t think this means you can just throw some exercises together and call it a finisher; you do need to take into consideration your overall goal. Once you’ve done that, you can start piecing together exercises and training modalities to really change up your workout and push fat loss results.
If adding a finisher is the how you’re planning to change up your workout, click HERE to take a peek at the blog I wrote on how to build your perfect finisher.
H – HALT
When’s the last time you took a week off from training? Or even a deload week?
For some reason, people today believe that if you’re not grinding it out every single day, that you’re moving further from results.
That couldn’t be more wrong.
And you know what?
I’m guilty of it too.
I competed in the Regional powerlifting meet a few weeks ago, nearly 9 months after my last meet.
After previous meets, I took a “week off,” but that meant I was still in the gym working on movement patterns, training with some different exercises I don’t typically see in my programs, and, believe it or not, hitting the cardio.
This last training cycle was LONG and grueling.
During that time, I had holidays, a honeymoon, job change, MULTIPLE schedule changes, and dropped about 12 pounds.
My body NEEDED a break, so I decided to do things a bit differently this time.
Aside from the gym I work at, I did not set foot in the gym for training.
Instead of my morning training session, I slept 30 additional minutes, and when I woke up, I used the addition 30 to 45 minutes for foam rolling, stretching, and muscular activation. I had a massage, a chiropractor appointment, AND went to 2 yoga classes.
My body was so grateful, and when I went back to the gym, I felt physically and mentally fresh and ready to get back to work.
It’s time the grind mentality comes to an end.
If you’ve been hitting it hard for the last few months, consider taking a week off and allow your body some time for recovery. Not only will it refresh your body, but it will likely push your body back to burning fat.
A – ALTERNATE
Are you doing the SAME number of sets and reps every week?
How about everyday?
Our body may be designed to protect against change, but in the same respect, it is incredibly adaptive.
Therefore, if you’ve doing squats for 5 sets of 5 reps every Monday for the last three months, then you’re body has likely adapted to this and probably isn’t giving you any more results….
I already said it’s one of my favorite things about having a coach for my training – the sets and reps change every four to five weeks, so the stimulus or stress on my body is changing at about the point my body has adapted.
One of my training clients is a former Marine. He decided he wanted to get back to being able to do 25 pull-ups. Everyday after his training session he did 3 sets of 10 pull-ups. He followed this routine for about 3 months, until he one decided to give 25 a shot.
He’s doing 30 pull-ups everyday, so 25 should be no problem, right?
He barely made it to 15, which was just two more than when he started this pull up routine.
Man, was he frustrated.
He took an entire week off he was so frustrated.
How could he put in so much work and not even be close to his goal?
Because he was doing the SAME routine with the SAME sets and SAME reps everyday.
His body could easy pump out 10 pull-ups because that’s what he trained, but his body
had NO idea what to do after rep 10.
After his week off, we talked about how to vary his sets and reps throughout the week to build strength and endurance in his muscles. We included things like low sets/high reps, high sets/low reps, medium sets/medium reps, slow descending reps, holds, and even some banded pull-ups.
We agreed not to test for six weeks to really see what this program could do for him.
Well we tested last week, and he pulled out 20 of the most beautiful looking pull-ups I’ve seen. He stopped at 20, and said he probably could have hit one or two more but he only wanted to count reps that would count in the Marines.
There are SO many ways to alternate your set and rep scheme, and if you include weight variation in there, the options are virtually endless.
If you read this, and know you’ve been doing the same sets and reps for quite a while now but aren’t quite sure where to start changing, click HERE to start changing it up.
N – NUMBER
Think about how many days per week you’re training.
How long have you been keeping up with that routine?
Sometimes the best way to change it up is by changing up your frequency of training.
Yes, I know you love what you’re currently doing, but if it’s not yielding it up, change out the frequency for four to six weeks, and hop back on it.
There are quite a few ways to vary training frequency:
Try a Full Body Routine:
- This is the perfect way to mix things up if you’ve been training on an upper/lower routine.
- A full body routine doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, but pull together some exercises from your upper and lower days, tweak the sets, and you’ll find two to three days of full body workouts.
- Now you will have to allow for a day of rest in between, but it’s a really great way to change the stimulus, and add a challenge to the entire body.
Try a Split Routine:
- Maybe you’ve been crushing full body workouts for a while now, it may be time to mix things up and add an additional focus on certain body parts. The best way to do that is through a split routine.
- Here are some strategies to piece together a split routine:
- Alternate Upper and Lower Days – You will still need to look at one or two rest days, but it gives you a chance to work your upper body three days a week with MORE exercises, while also hitting your lower body three days a week with MORE exercises.
- Push and Pull Days – This is for upper body only. This routine allows you to spend an entire day on push exercises (bench, push ups, flys) and an entire day on pull exercises (rows, pull downs, face pulls). This changes your frequency because of it’s dedication to an entire day to one type of motion.
- Upper/Lower/Push/Pull/Legs – One of my favorite training routines. It’s a combination of the above training modalities, and it allows you to hit your upper body twice, lower body twice, and the pull day allows you to target upper and lower body.
- You don’t have to pick one or the other. Here you would be dedicating a few days to a split routine and separating those with full body workouts.
- It’s a great way to guarantee you’re giving specific muscle groups special attention, while also hitting the whole body to add another day or two of training.
G – GAME PLAN
You know that girl who runs on the treadmill every day for 30 minutes, how come her body composition doesn’t seem to be changing?
How about your classic gym bro, who thinks cardio is for weenies so he sticks to the weights section only? How come he’s not cut like The Rock?
We are very much creates of habit. We like to stick to what we like and what we know.
Your girl knows how to run, and your bro knows how to lift but they don’t ever change it up because they don’t know HOW.
It is perfectly acceptable to stick to the style of training you enjoy, but you’ll be able to keep at it a lot longer if every now and then you change your style of workouts.
Even more, you’ll likely see better results from your training when you do try a new style.
For example, when I wanted to drop some weight and lean out, adding powerlifting workouts was NOT the right strategy. That would have downright destroyed me.
There was also no chance of me running on a treadmill, so we programmed some low-intensity steady state cardio. This gave me the opportunity to burn some additional calories AND it promoted recovery from my lifts.
That’s just one way I like to shake it up, here are some of the other ways:
- Jumping in with one of my group exercise classes – This is a totally different style of training, and while I really have to pay attention the intensity, it incorporates different energy systems and muscle groups. Most gyms will let you try out a workout for free or a small fee, but it gives you the ability to play with some different timing sets, exercises, and routines.
- Yoga – Yoga is a great way to for me to change up the pace AND promote recovery!
- Biking – While it doesn’t always feel great on my rear, it really pumps my cardiovascular system and challenges my legs in a new way.
- Boxing – Now, I wish I had more time to be able to do this, but I’ve been to a boxing class a few times and it was awesome! This is nothing like my training, so it definitely challenges different muscle groups and energy systems!
Find one or two days each month to try a completely different style of training. Look around at your local gyms, or if you’re really unsure where to start, shoot me an email and let’s find the best solution for YOU.
E – EXERCISE
If you’re hesitant to change your style of workout, I get it.
Another way to change up your workout without changing your style is to change up the exercises.
About two months ago a gentleman reached out about an assessment. He told me that his journey began in February and that he had lost 40 pounds.
40 pounds in five months? That is awesome!
I congratulated him, but asked why he felt he needed my coaching if he had made this much progress?
He told me that he feels great having lost 40 pounds, but over the last month he has not lost more than ONE pound.
I asked him to tell me more about his training programs over the last five months, here’s what that looked like:
Monday – Chest
- Bench Press – 4 sets of 10
- DB Bench Press – 4 sets of 15
- DB Fly – 4 sets of 15
- Cable Fly – 4 sets of 20
- Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 15
Tuesday – Legs
- Leg Press – 3 sets of 20
- Hip Raises – 3 sets of 20
- Squats on a Smith Machine – 3 sets of 15
- Let Extension – 3 sets of 20
- Leg Curl – 3 sets of 20
Thursday – Chest
- Bench Press – 4 sets of 10
- DB Bench Press – 4 sets of 15
- DB Fly – 4 sets of 15
- Cable Fly – 4 sets of 20
- Shoulder Press – 4 sets of 15
Friday – Back and Biceps
- Lat Pull Down – 4 sets of 15
- DB Chest Supported Rows – 4 sets of 15
- DB Bicep Curls – 4 sets of 20
- Hammer Curls – 4 sets of 20
- Cable Curls – 4 sets of 20
- Cross Body Curls – 4 sets of 20
I asked if he had recently started that program.
That is the same training program his friend gave him five months ago.
No wonder he plateaued!
He LOVED the results to this point, but he was so frustrated by not seeing any changes he was ready to do anything to see a difference.
Together we updated his training program. I substituted some different exercises that still hit the muscle group he was hoping for, and also varied his set and rep scheme.
It worked GREAT. Honestly, better than I could have imagined.
After five and a half weeks in our new program, he told me he FINALLY reached the 50-pound mark!
Better yet, he said his body feels better than ever and that his nagging aches and pains seem to be less of a nag.
He told me he knew reaching that mark would feel great, but he had no idea how great he would feel from something as simple as adding some new exercises!
Trust me, I understand how difficult change can be (I’ve been fighting it my whole life), but hopefully this cheesy little mnemonic can help you identify where you can make changes in your workout routine so you can continue to see results!
If you’re ready to make a big change and take the planning off your plate, click HERE to start in the coaching program and let me be responsible for changing up your workouts!