Weight-loss plateaus happen to everyone. And while it can be hard to not see the results you hoped for, it's important to stay positive and connected to your healthy routine. Take these tips to break on through to the other side, and say goodbye to sidetracks.
Teddy Bass makes a living keeping people in shape, including Cameron Diaz. Always a presence on the red carpet, Cameron has mastered the art of posing — confident, tall, and never without a smile. No doubt, this is in large part thanks to doing one of Teddy's favorite exercises for posture (and core strength), the ever-so-basic plank. "It's an incredible exercise," Teddy told us at a recent Asics event. "It forces you to use all the muscles in your back that keep you upright and erect — instant posture lift!" That is, of course, if you're doing it correctly, he says.
While there's nothing wrong with doing a modified version of traditional plank, Teddy sees too many women clasping their hands into a fist, or "prayer mode," while balancing on their forearms, which isn't good for achieving great posture. Locking your hands into a fist causes the upper back to round and the shoulders to hunch in, when ideally, you want to stay open and flat with the shoulders stacked directly over the elbows, says the celeb trainer.
When in the modified version of this move, start in traditional plank, then lower each forearm to the floor with your palms facing down. Place your elbows where your hands were, and spread your fingers wide. Doing so will keep all of the muscles in your back fired and engaged — especially your erector muscles, which run along the length of the spine. Teddy suggests challenging yourself even further by moving in between a forearm plank and traditional plank for an up-down plank. How many can you do in one minute?
Add a walking lunge to your workout and step right into those short shorts! Considered a basic lunge with a boost, this move not only works your glutes, hamstrings, and quads; it tones your biceps too. With a pair of dumbbells and an open space, walking lunges will tone both your arms and legs in one simple move, here's how!
- Stand upright, feet together, holding two dumbbells (5-10 lbs.) at your sides.
- Take a controlled step forward with your left leg, curling the dumbbells to your shoulders, keeping your elbows close to the body.
- Lower hips toward the floor and bend both knees (almost at 90 degree angles). The back knee should come close but never touch the ground. Your front knee should be directly over the ankle and the back knee should be pointing down toward the floor.
- Push off with your right foot and bring it forward to starting position, lowering the dumbbells to your side. This completes one rep.
- Next step forward and repeat with the right leg.
- Do two to three sets of 15 reps.
You can easily modify this move for beginners without weights, keeping your arms by your side.
Of course you know how to run — you've been doing it ever since you learned to walk. It seems pretty straightforward, but you could unknowingly be making some mistakes that not only hinder your performance, but worse, may be putting you at risk for an injury. Check out these five common running mistakes and how to fix them for your future runs.
The Wrong Footwear
The issue: Wearing shoes that don't fit properly, are not meant for the surface you're running on, or are too old won't support your feet effectively, which can lead to issues with foot or knee pain as well as impede proper running form. They also won't protect your joints from impact, which might be one reason you suffer from knee, hip, or lower-back pain.
The fix: Don't just pick out the cutest pair! Go to a running store and have an expert watch how you run so they can help you find the most supportive sneaker. And be honest about the surface you usually run on — don't buy a trail runner if you'll mostly be on the treadmill. Replace your shoes every 300 to 500 miles or more often if you notice pain or that they are no longer offering the cushion or support.
The issue: Not drinking enough water before, during, and after your run can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, or cramps, which may cause you to cut a workout short.
The fix: Drink 15 to 20 ounces of water one to two hours before working out; sip another eight ounces 15 minutes before. While running, sip six ounces of water every 15 minutes, or if you're working out for longer than an hour or in excessive heat, drink an electrolyte-replacement drink. Make sure to drink another 15 ounces of water after your run — you'll know it's enough when you visit the ladies' room and see light-colored urine.
Keep reading to learn about three more common running mistakes.
If you're new to lunges or looking to add a basic exercise to your fitness routine, then consider a reverse lunge. Compared to a basic lunge, this exercise places less stress on the knees while still toning your entire leg. Better yet, once you're familiar with the movement, you can increase the burn and improve balance with the addition of dumbbells. Read how to do a reverse lunge below!
- To begin, stand tall and take a controlled lunge (or large step) backward with your left foot.
- Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor and your right knee is positioned directly over your ankle. Keep your left knee bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor. Your left heel should be lifted.
- When your left knee is almost touching the floor, hold. Then, slowly push with your left foot to raise your pelvis up a bit, then straighten your knees and return your left leg back to starting position next to your right leg.
- This completes one rep. Complete 10 reps before repeating the movement and the repetitions on your right side.
Is lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement getting dull? If you're bored of your regular running routine, you're more likely to skip a run altogether or go into it with low expectations. Besides battling boredom, when muscles are constantly doing the same thing, it's easy for the body to hit a weight-loss or fitness plateau. It's time to get out of that running rut! Here are some simple ways to mix things up.
- Get out the map: If you're used to running on a treadmill, head outside and run in your neighborhood, at a local park, or in the woods. New scenery is sure to ignite your passion. If you always run outside, find a new route or run your regular route backwards for a different perspective.
- Vary the speed and intensity: It's easy to run at the same pace, but you'll get bored after the first five minutes and won't be able to stop thinking, "Can I be done already?!" Keep your mind and your muscles engaged by switching up the pace, incline, running surface, and your steps every few minutes. Sprint up stairs, zigzag down hills, or throw in some push-up walks. Using your muscles differently will not only keep you on your toes, it'll work your muscles differently which makes you a stronger, faster runner.
- Change your schedule: If you always run at lunchtime on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you'll start dreading it as soon as the clock inches toward noon. Change things up by running at different times during the week; you may discover that you actually prefer running at 5 a.m. rather than 5 p.m.
- Treat yourself: Shopping for a brand-new pair of running shoes or a nifty new sports bra is a great motivator — you'll be so excited to try it out, you'll practically skip out the door; or buy a riveting audiobook or some pumped-up tunes to offer a little distraction during your run. Get started with any of our running playlists.
- Sign up for a race: This doesn't have to be a marathon by any means, but even signing up for a 5K will inspire you to get out the door and keep up with your training runs. Plus running the actual race with all the excitement of the cheering crowds, the healthy bit of competition, seeing fellow runners doing what they love, and the pride you'll feel once you cross the finish line can also help avoid a rut.
- Don't go alone: Sometimes all you need to re-spark your love of running is to head out with another runner. Chatting during your workout will make it seem less like work, and instead of checking your watch every few minutes, the time will just fly by. Your running buddy can also show you their favorite route so you'll have a new one to weekly routine.
- Take a break: If it's not fun, why do it? Dreading every run won't make it any easier, so maybe it's time to hang up the running shoes for a bit. Try a new type of cardio like biking or swimming, immerse yourself in yoga classes, or join a CrossFit studio. Aside from working different muscles in new ways, doing other workouts besides running will make you crave it, and a little reverse psychology might be just the thing to get you out of that rut.
A good workout isn't just about what happens when you are burning those calories. What you do immediately after exercising affects how your body reacts and responds to your hard work, so make the most of your next sweat session with these post-workout must dos.
- Rehydrate: Not drinking enough during your workout can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and headaches afterward, so save yourself from a bad day and take a water break after your workout. If you've just finished a particularly intense workout, a sports drink or coconut water may be better: they will help replenish electrolytes like sodium and potassium that you've lost during your workout. Whatever you choose, make sure you're replenishing lost water stores in your body as soon as possible after a workout.
- Stretch out: Never finish a workout without spending a few minutes stretching your tired muscles; giving your body a much-needed stretch will ensure that you increase your flexibility and ease delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. These post-workout stretches are great no matter what your workout of choice.
- Grab a snack: That little post-workout snack offers more benefits than just quieting hunger — it also helps you get the most benefits from your workout. Your snack should be a mix of protein and carbs: eating protein after exercise helps rebuild muscles that you've just been working on while also helping to ease DOMS, and the carbs will help replenish your energy. These 150-calorie post-workout snacks are the perfect combination of both.
- Don't undo your work: You've put in the time — now make sure that you aren't overcompensating with a high-calorie rest of your day. Use your completed workout as motivation to make healthier choices throughout the day and don't justify that ice cream sundae just because you've burned calories this morning. Focus on eating fresh foods and treat yourself to one of these 150-calorie desserts instead.
Even when you have the best intentions of committing to a workout, distractions pop up and deter you from your goals. If you're always trying to sneak out of the gym as soon as you arrive, then try mixing up your workout routine with one of these tricks that will keep you motivated and entertained from start to finish.
Save your shows: While a good old-fashioned TV binge is something we typically don't condone, it can be beneficial when it comes to working out. Knowing that you can't watch that hour — or two! — of your favorite guilty pleasure until you're at the gym will entice you to stick to your workout and finish strong. Bonus: when your mind is consumed by a show or movie, you won't be as focused on time or how far you have to go until your shows are done.
Keep setting goals: Instead of just focusing on one big goal, make minigoals the whole way through. Whether it's reaching a certain number of calories before the 10-minute mark, beating your time from earlier in the week, or running at a strong and steady pace without taking a break, constantly setting minigoals will keep your head in the game and focused on the task at hand.
Keep reading for two more tricks.
It takes effort to get to the gym on a regular basis, so once you're there, make sure you're not wasting your time. Stop these seven gym mistakes now to cut minutes from your workout while still increasing its effectiveness.
- Socializing too much: We love our workout buddies as much as anyone else, but when it comes to gym time, make sure you and your buddy are on the same workout wavelength. That means she should be just as dedicated to an effective workout as you so you can both get in and get out without wasting your time.
- Going slow and steady: Not every workout has to be a sweaty endeavor, but if your go-to gym workout involves reading a magazine on the treadmill, you're wasting your time. Speed it up with intervals so you can push your potential — and your calorie burn.
- Not having a plan: If you've gotten to the gym but you're not sure what to do, trying to decide on the right exercise can be a major waste of time. Before you go to the gym, take a few moments to plan how you should be working out; you'll get to the gym and know exactly what you should be doing. If you need some inspiration, keep a few of our POPSUGAR Fitness printable workouts stashed in your gym bag.
- Taking too many breaks: Keeping your heart rate up is key to your workout success, so if your workout is full of breaks and water fountain trips, it's time to cut a few out of your routine. Limit breaks between intense intervals and circuits (by doing supersets) to reap your workout's cardio and calorie-burning benefits in a shorter amount of time.
Find out the rest of the time-wasting mistakes.