When is the last time you experienced noticeable improvements to
your body? If your progress has ground to a halt, these six powerful
rut-busters -- including a complete three-month training program -- can get
your gains back on track.
The definition of insanity is
doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so
goes the old adage. If that's the case, someone better back a truck up
to the nearest gym and load up a majority of the inhabitants for a
one-way trip to the loony bin.
While most of us wouldn't settle for a lack of results in other areas
of our lives, for some reason, otherwise sane people will struggle
along for months, even years on a training and nutrition regimen that
hasn't produced appreciable physical changes in return. Why? Chalk it
up to blind faith that eventually a breakthrough will happen, or
perhaps a lack of introspection in noticing something's awry.
In any case, the first step is a brutally honest review of your current
routine. Is it working? Are you being diligent and not skipping
workouts or being otherwise inconsistent? Is your diet up to par? If
the answers are no, yes, and yes, stick with us -- what follows are
some proven methods for breaking out of a rut that you can use
immediately. Because, as the wise also often espouse, "Never leave that
till tomorrow which you can do today."
1) Wipe The Slate Clean.
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do at the gym is to give up on a
training program we've been using for a long time. Sure, you might
tweak it here and there, but steadfastly, you'll continue with an
invariable pattern: The same bodypart split, exercises, sets and rep
schemes. It's human nature to be a creature of habit. The problem is,
our bodies are very versatile, and will quickly adapt to the same old
workouts -- thus, your muscles stop responding, and you find yourself
on an unwelcome plateau.
Savvy fitness buffs know how to tweak their training just enough from
week to week and month to month to keep their bodies guessing and
growing in response; that's a good strategy to adopt in the long term.
But if you're currently mired in a serious rut, consider a radical yet
effective approach: Completely change up your program, front to back
and top to bottom. Whether it's self-designed, borrowed from a
magazine, provided by a professional trainer, or even a comprehensive
pre-built strategy like our ProSource Transformation Challenge outlined
later in this article, a sweeping departure from your norm can not only
reenergize your efforts, but will throw an all new stimulus at your
physique, prompting muscular adaptations.
2) Change Your Scenery.
While a bit more subtle than revamping your entire training program,
skipping out on your usual digs to try out a different gym or health
club exposes you to different machines and equipment. Exploring new
territory and seeing some new faces can bust a rut, and is a nice
change of pace even if you're not muddled in the fitness doldrums. Keep
this option in your back pocket and use whenever necessary -- a $10-$15
day fee at a gym is well worth it if it reignites your passion for
3) Get Out.
Every once in a while the best possible thing you can do for yourself
at the gym is leave. Go outside. Cross train, whether it's hoops at the
park, volleyball, mountain biking, running, rock climbing -- pick your
favorite sport or activity, or something you haven't tried before. The
change-up can reinvigorate a tired program, especially when you're more
and more often finding yourself dreading your next weight-room foray,
and exposes your muscles to something else besides a steady stream of
benches, barbell curls and bent-over rows.
4) Employ Strongarm Tactics.
To get a little melodramatic, goals are like axe-wielding murderers --
they'll motivate you to get moving in a hurry. Luckily, unlike
cold-blooded killers, goals are generally a great thing for us, no
matter whether we're talking fitness, finance, careers or personal
improvement. As far as the first thing on that list, setting
lifting-related goals will provide you with renewed focus as you
doggedly pursue a personal best on one or more exercises, be it your
squat, bench press, military press, deadlift, etc.
The goals you set should be tough, yet achievable in a reasonable
timeframe. For instance, if your bench is currently 285, you may want
to aim for 315 in a three-month period, then focus your training around
getting stronger in your pecs, delts and triceps (without neglecting
the rest of your body, of course) in an effort to build up to that new
total. Strength and power training, because of its lower-rep ranges and
heavy loads, can be a significant departure for people who are used to
a moderate weight and volume bodybuilding regimen; as a bonus,
concentrating on strength gains for a couple months will make a
bodybuilding program all the more effective when you eventually return
to that style of training because your body will have to re-acclimatize
5) Add A Personal Touch.
Don't let a go-it-alone mentality block what could be a very productive
avenue to growth. Calling on the help of an expert can bring a whole
new perspective to your training, helping you unearth and understand
mistakes you may have been making. A good trainer can teach you
innovative ways to work out you may not have tried or thought of
before. Even if only for a few sessions, hiring a trainer may become an
amazing turning point in your progress.
Of course, a bad one can send you reeling in the wrong direction, so
ask around your gym for recommendations, observe the ones at your club
in action with other clients, and, before you hire someone, get their
credentials to ensure they are certified through one or more reputable
organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning
Association (NSCA), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or
the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).
6) Challenge Yourself.
Competition can breed success and bring out the best in you. That's why
programs like the EAS Body For Life and Muscle & Fitness Rock Hard
Challenge, among others, are so successful and boast so many adherents
who swear by the results they've enjoyed having a get-in-shape goal
mapped out for you, with a prize incentive for good measure, can
motivate you to achieve much more than you may have thought possible.
If you think this is the route for you, ProSource has just launched a
challenge that may be right down your alley. Below, we provide a
weight-loss and muscle-sculpting program you can use if you choose, but
the beauty of ProSource's Challenge is that you can pair it with any
program you want just select your goal, whether muscle-building or
weight loss, choose the supplements you want to use to help in your
transformation, take some before photos of yourself to send in, and get
The ProSource Transformation Challenge: Sample Training Program