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How to Get Summer Ready & Break Through That Workout Wall

Courtesy of Kyle Johnson
Courtesy of Kyle Johnson

Leap off the plateau in your training with these new ways to bench, run, and sissy that squat. 

Whether you work out for strength, endurance, or just to convincingly pull off a mesh thong, sooner or later you're going to hit it: a plateau. It's that place you reach where no matter how hard you try, you just can't get any bigger, any smaller, any stronger, or -- God forbid -- any more thong-ready. So if you're listlessly going through the motions, or discouraged over your lack of gains, it's time to get inspired. Cameron Wilson, owner of F45 Training Pasadena, has some routines to help you get your workout groove back.

Related | The Jet-Setters Guide to Staying Fit on the Fly

When you're sluggish or unmotivated

A good pre-workout formula is a quick fix, but you should really focus on your sleeping patterns, with a goal of eight hours of slumber a night. Rest, however, goes beyond mere sleep.

"Ensure you are giving your body enough time to recoup from intense workouts by including rest days," Wilson says. "A rest day does not have to mean a day on the couch -- you can mix up your training regime to include a hike or a swim to keep active."

Also, make sure you're getting enough protein and complex carbohydrates -- they're super important sources of energy. And if your lack of motivation comes from not seeing your desired results, try setting more realistic short-term goals for yourself. If you don't feel as daunted, you'll be more inclined to push harder to achieve those goals, and once you do, you'll be inspired to set more and more of them. Results will come in time -- just be confident in the work you're putting in and, above all,
be patient.

When you're not gaining muscle

As the old adage goes, "Eat big or go home." Or is it, "Eat big to get big?" Either way, Wilson says, "The key to gaining solid muscle mass is to eat, eat, and when you're feeling full -- eat more." This does not, however, give you license to set up shop at the McDonald's drive-thru. You need a high-protein, low-carb diet to really fuel that muscle growth. For building mass and strength, Wilson also suggests lifting heavier and slower, especially on the eccentric -- i.e., negative or lengthening -- movements.

When you're not losing fat

First things first: How's your diet? "I believe in the 80/20 rule -- 80 percent good eating and 20 percent moderation," Wilson says. "If you are eating well, try introducing supplements like L-Carnitine and magnesium, and cutting out items that lead people astray, like sugar in your coffee."

At the gym, try some high intensity interval training (HIIT) to keep your body on its figurative toes. The rapid changes in work and rest times help incinerate pesky fat cells and increase your energy levels.

When you've maxed out on your bench press

Not to be confused with death-dropping, drop-setting is a fitness method of starting off with max weight and reducing it with each successive set until you reach fatigue. It'll help you push past your limits and break down muscle fibers. Also try slowing down the eccentric (or lowering) phase of the press to a count of three to four seconds.

When you've maxed out on your squat

If you really want to increase your quad strength, diversify your squat portfolio. There are tons of variations of the movement: single leg, hack, split, and -- our personal fave -- sissy. "Mixing different squats gives you more variety," Wilson says, "and also the ability to increase your weight over time."

When you're running on empty

Says Wilson, "Whether you're training for a marathon or just jogging, start small and increase your distance over time." Because running is demanding, engage in strength training and core work to stabilize the body for 10 to 15 minutes after you run. Fartlek ("speed play" in Swedish) is a combination of continuous and interval training, and a way to get stamina for shorter distances. Wilson likes jogging the short length of a football field and then sprinting the long end continuously for 10 to 20 laps. This builds up speed and stamina for both short- and long-distance runs.

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