You’ve got your fitness program together, and you are sticking to it, and you have been enjoying the results. Then all of a sudden your gains seem to dry up. This can often happen with a program if it remains unchanged for too long. What happens is that the body adapts or gets used to what you are doing and effectively goes into cruise control. Building lean muscle, strength and general fitness and burning fat, means that you have to get your body to adapt to increasing demands so that it changes to meet your goals. That might be getting stronger, losing some weight, or training for a running race. Whatever it is, the body needs to receive the right stimulus to change its composition. If you do the same thing week in week out, your body will adapt to that task, no less and no more and that is where a plateau can happen.

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In order to shock the body into growing lean muscle and burning fat, change your routine every 6 weeks. First of all, look at the number of sets and repetitions you are doing for your exercises. Generally, more sets and lower reps are good for building strength and building muscle, for example 5 sets of 6 repetitions. A routine with higher repetitions and lower sets tends to be better for endurance and toning, say 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions and upward. Both schemes work for fat burning as both encourage lean muscle, and the more lean muscle you have, the easier it is to burn fat. Muscle tissue is denser than fat, and requires more calories to maintain. Lean muscles will burn fat even when they are not being used!

As well as sets and reps, also consider changing the exercises you do, and how you do them, to shock your system into adapting. For example, if you usually do squats, try front squats, or lunges. When you are doing the exercise itself, also think about the time under tension or speed of the movement. For example, for more explosive strength and power, explode into the movement, but aim for controlled power. As with any weight training exercise, good form is critical to make sure you get the most from an exercise, and to avoid injury.

Change your routine around in this way every 6 weeks, and it will have the effect of shocking your system into adapting, and lift you over the plateau and on to the next level. Also consider varying your cardio workouts. Day after day of the same routine on the treadmill or the same route, for the same distance will leave your body adapting to that workout, and slipping into cruise control. Vary the distances and the speed. Inject some pace into your training, whether you do it on the treadmill, rower, or on the bike by doing some speed or sprint intervals. They will increase your heart rate and have a positive effect on your metabolism, and increase the fat burning effect. Equally importantly, they introduce more variety and more interest into your work out. Try running for 30 minutes at the same speed on a treadmill, and then, the next time, do a workout with intervals in it, and see which feels like it passes quicker. With intervals, the change in pace, and the need for a rest interval, means the workout passes by much quicker, and will be far more effective.

They say variety is the spice of life, and this is very true in a fitness program. Not only will you get better results from changing your program every once in a while, it will help keep you feeling fresh, interested and motivated, which are all crucial factors if you want a fitness program that you will enjoy, that will last, and that will give you quick, but lasting gains.

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Chris Bennett is a travel enthusiast who wishes to publish his travel experiences someday. He is here to learn more about what people think about the different trends and happenings across the globe.