If you’ve been busting your behind in the gym and all the sudden your progress has flat lined, you have hit a plateau, my friend. The best way to beat a plateau? Change! Your workouts need to stay rich and versatile so your muscles and cardiovascular endurance don’t get comfortable. Greatist has come up with 17 science-backed ways to bust your workout rut and kick your now stale routines to the curb.
1. Pump up your playlist. The tunes thumping through our headphones are pretty powerful — the right ones can help improve energy efficiency and help us power through the hardest moments of our fitness routines. Research also suggests music at a certain tempo might boost our motivation and reduce how much effort we feel we’ve put into a workout — which can allow our bodies and minds to push for more.
Researchers believe the optimal tempo for workout songs is 125 to 140 beats per minute (when we’re not syncing our movements to the music). That said, past research has shown that the faster the beat, the more intense the workout. Plus, synching our movements to the beat of the music can actually improve your workout.  .
2. Grab a workout buddy. Whether it’s with a friend, family member, or significant other, working out with a partner can not only help us squeeze in a workout, but it may also inspire us to work harder . But not just any workout buddy will do. Getting our sweat on with someone we think is fitter than we are can increase how long and how hard we work out by up to a whopping 200 percent.
3. Add interval training to your routine. Slow and steady doesn’t win the race to fitness. Beat boredom, save time, and up the ante on your workout with high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Studies show that just three sessions of sprint interval training can be as effective as five longer, more moderate exercise sessions .
4. Get outside. There’s plenty of reasons we call it the Great Outdoors: the fresh air, the scenery, and, of course, the fitness benefits. Exercising al fresco can boost our energy, make us feel more revitalized and positively engaged, and help us cut back on tension, anger, confusion, and depression. Pretty solid for breathing some life back into a tired workout routine . And that’s not all. Past research shows just five minutes of sweating outside boosts both our mood and self-esteem. Ditching the gym never felt so good.
5. Be more time-efficient. It might sound counterintuitive, but spending too much time at the gym might result in less than stellar results. Luckily, research suggests 30 minutes of daily exercise can be effective at reducing both weight and BMI almost as much as a full 60. By cutting down on training time, we may actually boost both our energy and our desire to work out. The action plan: Save time and work out less, but do it more efficiently. Power through a plateau by combining two moves into one (for example, add a shoulder press to a regular squat or a bicep curl to a lunge), make a strength-training plan (and stick to it once you’re at the gym), and get more out of a cardio routine.
6. Perform supersets. We expect anything with the word “super” in it will do a body good, and supersets are no exception. Performing one set of an exercise right after another without resting in between will keep our heart rate up, triggering more efficient calorie burn. Supersets will also help the body build muscle and get us in and out of the gym a whole lost faster.
7. Cross train. Branching out from a typical, go-to workout will keep both the body and mind guessing. With each new and different workout, we target different muscle groups, which can reduce the risk for injury, boost fitness levels, and keep boredom at bay. Plus, cross training can also be effective as an active recovery technique.
8. Track your activity. Although focusing on the number on the scale can lead to disappointment and frustration, tracking our physical activity and progress can help us figure out smart tweaks to turbocharge our results. Grab a brand-new notebook and keep a fitness diary (like a food diary). For a more high-tech approach, we recommend tracking your fitness online using gadgets like the Nike FuelBand, BodyMedia LINK Fitness Tracker, or using any of these 64 awesome health and fitness apps.
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