So you’ve been working out like a metronome, more so than ever before in your life. At first, the results came with haste. People had nothing but compliments every time they saw you. Now the results and compliments have taken a pause.
Maybe you’re thinking this is as good as it gets? It’s not. You can always improve. The improvements will always decrease over time, like a block of cheese you’re eating by halves. There is always another, but smaller piece left on the cutting board.
If the first hurdle you must cross with improving your fitness is making a habit of exercise, then the second one is finding ways to alter the course of that habit.
The good news is you don’t have to overhaul your whole workout. You can change just one part, with incredible results. It’s a trick as old as time, used by personal trainers everywhere.
It has to do with how your brain adapts to movement, always seeking ways to grow more efficient. You can disrupt that efficiency learning, forcing your body and brain to work again by adjusting any one of these program aspects.
The technique you will apply is the F.I.T.T. principle. It stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type. Let me introduce you to your new best friend.
The easy move to make here is increasing your frequency. For people trying to cut body fat, this will work, at least for awhile.
Depending on your program, more work may just mean more exhaustion. If you are already working out every day of the week, then you’re going to adjust another aspect of your frequency.
If you’re training an hour every day, you could switch to 90-minutes every other day.
Workout intensity is the huge hole in many programs. If your workout consists of riding the bike while you read, it’s time to crank it up. You’re never going to affect change that way.
There’s so much you could do. You could turn you cardio session into intervals. You could add in sections of resistance training, every five minutes of cardio. Run uphill instead of the flats.
You can’t always just crank up the intensity. In cases where your intensity is at a maximum, change the way you get there. If you lift heavy, lift lighter with high reps. If you lift fast, slow way down, like super-slow-mo.
There are more ways than we can go over to change your intensity.
There are many ways to change the time aspect of your workout. As one example, you could workout longer. You could also split your long workout into two smaller routines, like cardio and weightlifting.
If you workout mornings switch to nights. If you’ve been dividing your workout hour by splitting cardio and weight training, put the cardio in the middle, sandwiched by the weight training.
You could also just do an hour of one aspect each day, then commit to the other aspect during your next workout.
With your time, don’t limit yourself by thinking only in terms of more time. Think of the variety of ways you can divide the time you spend working out.
So you like cardio? Fine, but adding in some weight training will push you faster than your boring session on the treadmill of death.
Don’t like cardio? Take a number. None of us do. If you hate it, keep life happy by only doing five minutes at a time.
Try a month of yoga if you’ve been lifting too much. Take group classes if you’re Ms. Independent. If you’ve been training for strength, train for stabilization or mass gaining. If you’ve been training for endurance, slow down and get strong.
This is an easy variable to adjust. Do something else.
Do not adjust more than one aspect of the F.I.T.T. principle at a time, not unless you want to drive yourself nuts. You won’t know which aspect of your program change made the most impact.
Be a good scientist. Change one aspect for 30-90 days, then change another. Over time you’ll learn which changes affect your body the most, but also how to manipulate them to your goals.
This is how you keep your habit. This is how you stay the course.