Taking your fitness to the next level
Beyond just a necessity, fitness can be a real passion. It’s exciting to test the limits of your body, see yourself get physically and mentally stronger and achieve things you didn’t previously think possible.
Sometimes however, we find our progress suddenly hits a roadblock. Our finish times seem to stagnate. Pushing just a little bit further becomes much tougher. It seems like other people can achieve things and reach goals that we just can’t.
So how can you get past these annoying roadblocks to elevate your fitness to the next level? Here’s some things to try.
Fitness is made up of many different interlinked elements: aerobic fitness, stamina, muscle strength, and recovery time to name just a few. Often, we get caught up in improving one aspect over others, but this can actually be limiting. For example, if you’re a runner, you might focus solely on running long distances. But you might be able to push further by also doing some form of strength training, as this helps your muscles to grow and better support your joints. Try adding some different elements to your regime and you may start to see unexpected improvements in your main focus.
Do some HIIT
High intensity interval training (HIIT) – where short bursts of exercise are interlaced with short periods of recovery – has been shown to increase oxygen consumption at a similar rate to endurance exercise – but in far less time. This means it can help you to get fitter, faster. A 2014 study showed that runners who undertook HIIT as part of their training showed increased endurance and running performance. And there are also benefits to core and muscle strength that will aid performance for many different types of exercise. With most HIIT routines lasting between 10 and 30 minutes, squeezing one into your routine may be well worth the effort.
We all know that protein is essential for building strong muscles and for a long time, a diet high in animal proteins has been favoured by fitness enthusiasts. However, 2018 Netflix documentary The Game Changers explored the idea of adopting a plant-based diet to improve athletic performance. While the science behind this claim is up for debate, there is a theory that a plant-based diet may reduce inflammation in the body which could aid sports recovery. Venus Williams, Lewis Hamilton and Colin Kaepernick are just some of the elite athletes joining the plant-based pack. Why not give it a try? It could result in positive changes to your performance that you didn’t expect.
Set new goals
It could actually be your goal that’s the problem. Fixating around one goal can mean that you fail to see improvements you are making in other areas. For example, if you run, cycle or swim distances, you might focus only on distance, when you could focus instead on doing shorter distances faster. Weight trainers may focus on lifting heavier weights, but you can also look at increasing the number of reps you can do with lighter ones. Consider looking at some different aspects of your training and working around some different goals – it may reinvigorate your motivation and you might find you can achieve more than you think.
If you don’t currently compete in events, consider signing up to an organised race or endurance event. Many people find that the urge to compete can help to push their performance: this is the key principal behind the global Parkrun movement, which lets runners in local parks all over the world run and rank times against each other.
You might also find that signing up to a much larger event, such as an endurance cycle , 10k or marathon can help you to set incremental goals and push towards more challenging exercise sessions. You might even sign up for progressively difficult events over a period of time and treat them as key milestones in your training programme.