Switch it up! Is your exercise routine more predictable than rain on a bank holiday? Matt Guy Wright reveals why — and how — this is the month to make a change.
re you stuck in a fitness rut? If your routine, or lack of one, has become a needle stuck in a groove now is the time to shake things up. It’s this simple: if your exercise doesn’t change, your body won’t either. Now the days are short and the nights are long it’s very easy to want to skip the gym and shuffle off home to the comfort of the sofa and TV. Big mistake! With the party season and Christmas holidays fast approaching, this time of year is hard on our waistlines. If you want to avoid an uphill struggle in January it’s crucial not to let your fitness slide now. I often see people rock up to the gym like clockwork, only to sit on the bike reading a magazine for thirty minutes, or do the same old routine in the weights area day in, day out. They’re not getting the results they strive for because they have become stagnant. They have plateaued into their comfort zone. Does this sound familiar? Then use my tips below to transform your comfort zone into your challenge zone.
Avoiding muscle immunity
Ladies, if you use the same machines each time you’re at the gym, be brave and take a leap of faith into the free weights area. Free weights are more effective for toning and sculpting muscles than machines and I promise you will see results. Men love to concentrate on the chest and shoulders predominantly, so fellas, work more on your lower body, lower back, core and glutes for a change. Ask the fitness instructors at your gym to devise a fresh programme for you that includes new goals, new methods and actual timelines — the last of these is crucial in making sure you have something to aim for. If you have a big event coming up, use that date as your motivation to get into the best condition. Without goals and new skills to learn, you will only drift and become a fitness robot. We looked at why a Swiss ball is so good for you earlier in the year (Sussex Style, September) — it really is an essential piece of kit. Learn as many different tricks as possible with the Swiss ball. It will give you something different to focus on and it will work wonders 48 | s u s se x st y l e . c om | nov em ber 2014
to strengthen and tone you up from head to toe. If you use weights on a bench, switch them for the ball. Resting only your head and shoulders on the ball, with your feet flat on the ground and your body flat like a table, you will be working your legs, back and abs while doing a chest press. This is what’s called a compound exercise — engaging more than one muscle group at the same time. Muscles have memory so if you keep doing the same thing they get bored and stop reacting to the exercise. To see results you must shock your muscles into having to react and adapt to new ways of working out. Your muscles start becoming immune to repetitive moves after approximately six weeks, so work towards changing your routine that often. You will start to see more definition and better tone quite quickly if you keep doing this.
Importance of building up strength
If you are unsure what parts of your physique to target in a new routine, imagine you are doing a nude photo shoot eight weeks from now. Scared? Most of us would be! Look in a full-length mirror naked — what needs firming up? What could do with a lift? What bits would make you feel insecure if you were in your birthday suit in front of a camera crew? Work on those parts in the gym — and work on them hard. If your butt is migrating south, ask your gym for five different exercises to build muscle on the glutes. Many guys spend so much time building up strong pecs, they often neglect to train their back. A big, rippling chest with a flat-as-a-pancake back not only looks weird from the side, it can lead to a weak spine that will cost you dearly in pain, not to mention osteopath’s bills. If you are floating along on a plateau, it is highly likely you are neglecting certain areas of your body. Women tend to loathe press-ups with a passion. They’d rather tell everyone about their cellulite than get down on the floor and press, press, press. Yet my female clients are always surprised at how many variations there are of the simple, boring press-up and, more importantly, of the results that can be achieved by them. By placing your feet on a bench, ball or seat with your hands on
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