How to Use Fitness Challenges to Overcome Weight Loss Plateaus
Even the best-laid plans can falter.
Weight-loss plateaus happen to virtually everyone who is trying to lose weight. At some point, you may well find that your own progress has stalled, even if you’re continuing to exercise and eat well. Such plateaus are extremely common and are no cause for despair.
All it takes to get your body over the hurdle is the right push. It’s not just about physiology, but also psychology. You may be experiencing a plateau because you have simply run out of the motivation required to reach your fitness goals.
This is also a very common experience and nothing to be ashamed of. Again, all you need is a jolt to get you going again. One of the best ways to jumpstart your fitness journey is with a fitness workout challenge.
A challenge with a strict time limit and structure, such as a 30-day challenge, is the ideal way to get things going again. Here are the very best fitness challenges to help you overcome your weight loss plateau.
30-Day Full Body Fitness Challenges
If you really need to feel the burn, then you need a full body custom workout plan to reignite every muscle in your body.
There are many effective ways to do this, but the most popular ones involve you dedicated each day of the week to a different body part, with one day off for rest.
So Monday would be your lower body day, Tuesday your upper body, Wednesday your cross-fit, and so on.
30-Day Cleanse Challenges
One sure-fire way to get your weight loss back on track is with a 30-day cleanse. There are countless ones to choose from, from paid programs like The Clean Program and ones you can easily do yourself, such as the Master Cleanse.
If you’re on a high-protein diet or are bulking up, certain types of cleanses are best avoided until you can gradually adjust your diet. Alternatively, there are a number of high-protein cleanses which will whip you into shape.
30-Day Ab Challenges
Sometimes the most effective workout challenges are those with a visible and tangible goal at the end. Telling yourself you want to get shredded within a month is a powerful visual motivator that will jump-start your weight loss journey in a heartbeat.
There are several highly-recommended ab challenges you can undertake without having to spend a single penny. Try the 30-day ab challenge app to start with, so you can game-if your weight loss and push yourself to the finish line.
30-Day Squat Challenges
This one is especially popular with the ladies, for good reason. Workout routines that make you look and feel good in a rapidly short period of time are few and far between.
The simplicity and ease of most squat challenges are a key part of their appeal and a great way to build up your motivation again.
Start off with just a few squats and keep building until you’re doing hundreds a day by the end on the month.
It takes more than fitness challenges to reach the finish line and achieve the body of your dreams. You need support, expertise, and discipline to ensure your body is the very best it can be.
If you want the support and information you need to reach the top, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today. We’re here to get you on track – your success is our mission.
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Low on Weights?
12 Ideas for Resistance Training Without Weights
Don’t think you have the budget to get fit? Think again! Try these creative ways to log your resistance training without shelling out for a weight set.
Staying fit doesn’t require a gym membership, nor does it require setting aside a block of time for a full work-out. You can build a resistance training program that can be done anywhere and at any time. Best of all you eliminate the pressure of exercising in front of others.
Imagine working out at the beach on Sunday, in your backyard on Monday, and the park on Tuesday. Experiment and find an inviting place to work out where you are most energized. Grab a yoga mat and get to work using the best bodyweight exercises for your desired results.
Develop a plan and work at your own pace reaching your individual goals. Exercise routines that are free of equipment give you the same results as weights if you know how to work the right muscles.
Ready to work-out without spending money on equipment? Continue reading for 12 resistance training ideas that don’t require weights.
1. Lunge Variations
Lunges are a popular way to do leg workouts at home. There are numerous versions, so you never get bored.
The standard variation, or bodyweight lunge, requires you to stand up straight with your shoulders back and chin up. Step forward with your left foot and with a tightened core, lower your hips and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Keep your left knee level with your ankle and lower the back knee, but do not let it touch the ground.
Using your front heel for support, lift the body back up into the standing position. You can do multiple reps with the left knee leading and then switch to the right.
Once you’ve mastered the lunge, switch it up and incorporate the following into your sets.
The curtsy gets its name from the British greeting for women and girls. In this variation, you will start with your feet hip-width apart. Step backward with one leg and cross it behind you. Follow the steps of lowering your body.
With the reverse lunge, you will follow the same steps as the standard lunge. In this rep, the emphasis will be on the back leg. Use it to lower the body, and the ball of the foot to lift the body back up.
The walking lunge follows the steps of the standard lunge. Instead of doing reps with the left leg and then the right leg, you are going to switch things up. After returning to the standing position step forward with the right leg and go into the lunge.
Continue the motions and move around the room. This is a good time to incorporate small weights if you have them. Raise your hands to shoulder height and reach to the ceiling with each step.
2. Burpees for Resistance Training
Burpees are a good exercise and the key benefits is strength building. There is a burpee for beginners. Once you master these motions we’ll get into the advanced version.
Start in the standing position. Squat down and then kick your legs back until you are positioned on your toes. You will be in a position similar to a plank (we will cover planks later). Bring your legs back into a squat and stand back up with your arms reaching upward.
Continue doing this until your motion becomes fluid.
Now that you have the burpee down interject a push-up when the body is in plank position. Follow that up by jumping up instead of merely returning to the standing position.
3. Mountain Climbers
Mountain climbers give you a full body work-out. It also increases your heart rate for a high-quality cardio exercise and a natural shot of energy.
With your arms at your side and feet shoulder-width apart, squat to the floor and position your hands shoulder-width apart on the floor. Go into the plank position with your arms straight. Do not lock your elbows.
Begin with your left leg. Bring it forward with your knee towards the chest, extend it back out and bring up the right knee. Continue this rotation for your desired set of reps.
Between sets bring both feet forward and jump up similar to a burpee. Rest for about 15 – 30 seconds before starting the next set of reps.
4. Chin and Pull Ups
These upper body exercises will require a sturdy bar high enough to extend your arms over your head. Your feet should not touch the ground between reps. If you are tall or the bar is too low, bend your knees and cross your feet at the ankle.
The difference between the two exercises is the positioning of the hands on the bar. The biceps will get a good work out but the pull-up will have more emphasis on the muscles in the back.
Start with your arms straight but do not lock your elbows. With your hands on the bar shoulder-width apart, pull yourself up until the chin passes the top of the bar. For the chin-up, the palms of your hands will be turned inward. Having the palms turn outward is the position for the pull-up.
Once you have pulled the body up, hold the position for several seconds before descending back down.
Planks, like lunges, can be done in numerous variations. If you’re looking for at home exercises, place this one at the top of your list. We do suggest that you have a yoga mat or some other protective cushioning for your elbows.
The simple forearm plank is used to strengthen the core muscles by forcing you to stabilize your body. For this exercise lie on the ground with your body face down and feet spread waist-width apart. When you lift-up into the plank position you will be supported by the toes and ball of the feet.
Rest your body on your elbows with the forearms resting on the floor and hand clasped. The elbows should be shoulder-width apart and your body straight using your core muscles. Hold the position for at least one minute and challenge yourself to increase the time with each rep.
Do push-ups for resistance training to strengthen the triceps. They also work to build your core muscles. Push-ups can be done the traditional way or the less strenuous method designed for women. You also can vary the placement of the hands to direct the elbows outward or backward.
Stretch out on the floor face down. With your hands should-width apart and in the desired position bend your elbows and push the body up.
To start the exercise, bend the elbows and lower your body stopping before the chest or breast touch the floor. Do short counts before pushing the body back up. Remember, when the arms are straightened, stop before the elbows lock.
Do as many reps as you can before coming to a full rest.
7. Posing for Balance
Resistance training isn’t just about toning, it is also about building core strength that helps the body support your spine. Posing are exercises that help with balance which is the result of a strong core. You will find these techniques in yoga classes but they also provide good at home exercises.
You won’t need a chair for this pose because you will become the chair. Stand with your feet together. Put your weight into the heels of your feet as you bend your knees into a sitting position. Raise your arms upward with palms touching.
Hold the pose for a minimum of 10 seconds and then repeat the motion.
Stand straight with your feet flush together. Bring your right foot up and rest it on either the inside of your lower left thigh or below the left knee. Turn the right knee outward and bring your hands up to the center of your chest pressed together.
Take a deep breath and hold the pose for three – five seconds. Release and repeat.
8. Jumping Jacks
If you had physical education classes in school you should have jumping jacks mastered already. Some people may not think of them for resistance training but they are a total body workout. Jumping jacks target the glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors.
You will also work your shoulders and core muscles. Even better, the help with speeding up your metabolism.
Start by standing straight with your hands down by your sides and palms facing your outer thighs, and feet together. Jump up about two-three inches from the ground spreading your legs shoulder-width or wider. At the same time bring your arms out and up until they meet above your head.
Bring your arms back to your side and your legs together. Repeat this motion nonstop as you count out your jumping jacks. A good warm-up would be 50 – 100 jumping jacks.
Sit-ups have many benefits, the most popular is tightening stomach muscles and strengthening the core. Here are two variations. Both start with a standard sit-up position.
With legs shoulder-width apart and the palm of your hands together, bend your knees slightly and lift your legs off the ground. At the same time lift your upper body as if you are doing a sit-up. Twist the torso to the left and then the right, twice.
Exhale and relax the body on the mat. Repeat for the desired sets
Position your arms against your sides with palms facing down. Tighten your abs and raise both legs toward the ceiling. Lower the left leg to about two inches from the ground. Raise the left leg while lowering the right.
Repeat the repetition for 30 – 45 seconds.
Step-ups are a bodyweight exercise that only requires a sturdy bench that is at least knee high. With hands to you side step-up onto the bench with your left foot. Step down and then step-up with the right.
Your reps can be a straight left leg and then the right, or you can rotate left right left… The goal is to do a continuous 10 step-ups per set. You can also use weights for better resistance.
11. Triceps Dip
Triceps Dip will require a prop. It can be a chair, the edge of a sofa, or a step outside your house. Almost anything that is sturdy and can support your weight without tipping over can be used.
Sit on the edge of the chair with hands shoulder-width apart and palms down. Extend your legs out and then slide your butt off of the chair. Straighten your arms but do not lock your elbows.
Use your arms to lower and lift your body. If using a chair do not go lower than six inches from the seat. When using a step or box that is lower to the ground, do not let your butt touch the surface below you.
Try to perform about 15 reps per set. Return to the seat between sets to allow for a 10-second recovery.
12. Arm Circles
If you are looking for upper body exercises to target the back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps, arm circles are a perfect choice. Arm circles are also a great warm-up exercise that can help prevent injuries.
They are quite simple to execute and can be done while at work during a five-minute break. Start by standing up and extending your arms out with the palms of your hands facing the ground. Do a forward circular motion creating circles that are one foot in diameter.
Continue the rotation for about 10 seconds, or 10 rotations. Stop and then do the same in a backward rotation. One forward and one backward rotation represent a set. You can increase the time of the rotations or the number of back and forth reps, as your arms strengthen.
Also, consider adding small weights for additional resistance.
You’re Now Ready to Log Your Workouts
Now that you know resistance training doesn’t have to come with great expense, what are you waiting for? Before starting your weight-free workouts we recommend consulting with your physician first. Once you get the go-ahead, log your results and celebrate your successes.
Did you find these at home exercises useful? Click here to check out our nine-week body transformation challenge.
Walking for Weight Loss: How to Get Your Steps In and Shed Pounds
Those people who obsess about getting their steps in have a good reason. Here’s how walking for weight loss works and some tips to make it work for you.
When you want to lose weight, you’ve probably researching gym memberships and crash diets. But sometimes all it takes is a few steps. Literally!
If the thought of high-impact exercise is overwhelming, walking could be the solution. Walking for weight loss is effective and low-intensity. This could be the perfect exercise regimen if you’re starting your fitness journey.Â
A brisk walk can reduce stress, burn calories and build muscle-so why shouldn’t this be a part of your fitness plan?
Walking is a great form of physical activity that’s free and easily accessible for most people.
However, there are certain factors that can improve your results. How often you walk, at what speed and where you walk all play a factor.
This article explores how you can walk your way to fitness!
How Long to Walk Each Day for Weight Loss
So how often do you need to walk to lose weight? Less than you may think. A good goal is 30 minutes per day for weight loss.
At a brisk pace, the distance you could cover in 30 minutes cover should be 1.5 – 2 miles or 3,000 to 4,500 steps.
Some days are busier than others so feel free to walk more or less on some days. By the end of the week, you should have walked for at least 150 minutes.
How Fast Should I Walk for Weight Loss
The great thing about walking for weight loss is that you don’t have to overexert yourself. Walk at a moderately brisk pace. A great investment would be a heart rate monitor. There are plenty of smartwatches that have them built in.
While walking, your heart rate should be at 60 – 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. You should be breathing heavily enough to make speaking difficult.
Keep in mind that the higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn. You’ll get more benefit by increasing the intensity for 10 minutes. But listen to your body. If you need a break, take one. Ignoring your body’s signs can cause injury later.
If you’re new to exercise, start with shorter periods and build up over time. You could also designate three days each week for your lower-intensity walks.
When it comes to health and fitness, consistency is key. Make it your goal to never go three days without taking your walk. If you find yourself unmotivated, this podcast might inspire you.
This will help improve your fitness level and your metabolism. Your body will begin to learn your new habits. Mental health is just as important as physical. If you find yourself worn out, take a day off.
How Can I Fit Walking in My Schedule?
We get it. Life is busy! Here are some tips to make walking fit in your schedule:
- Break it up into walking two or three times a day for 10 minutes at a time.
- Break it up into bigger chunks and take your walks twice or three times per week
- Make it a family activity. Take a walk after dinner and use this time to bond with your family.
- Start a fitness challenge at work to motivate co-workers. Walk as a group during lunch or other breaks. Accountability can help you reach your goals.
- Park further at the grocery store! You’d be surprised how many steps you can get in large parking lots.
- Skip the elevator. Stair climbing burns more calories than you may think.
- Take a brisk walk on your lunch break or after dinner. This will help with that post-meal slump.
- Make casual meetings walking meetings instead of meeting in a conference room. Having a change of scenery might even help with creative thinking.Â
Make a plan and write it down! If you fall off for a day or so, don’t stress out. You can always pick back up where you left off tomorrow!
How Walking Burns Calories
If you’re trying to lose weight, there’s a simple formula that you need to know. Weight Loss = Calories Burned > Calories Consumed. You need to burn more than you eat.
Walking is one of the activities you can do to increase the number of calories that you burn.
Think of calories as energy for your body. You need calories for daily activities like moving, breathing, and sleeping. However, some people eat more calories than their body needs.
People who are physically active will burn more calories and lose weight. But, everyone doesn’t have the time to lift weights at the gym or cross train. Simply finding a little time to walk each day can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Let’s break it down. Walking for 30 minutes equals 1.5- 2.0 miles. This will burn approximately 200 calories, depending on your sex and weight.
The more you weigh the more calories you will burn. Your body is exerting more energy to exercise so you will burn even more on a 30-minute walk. Another way you can increase the number of calories burned is by adding weights. You can also walk on hills or on an inclined treadmill.
A lot of beginners become discouraged when they aren’t able to run for long periods of time. Yes, running will burn more calories, but only about 23 more calories per mile.
Don’t worry about running quite yet, walking can burn a significant amount of calories.
If you choose to take longer walks, this can increase your calories burned as well. During the first 30 minutes of exercise, your body burns sugar for energy. After 30 minutes, your body starts using fat as fuel.
Make it a goal to take at least on extended walk per week. This will build your endurance and help you get rid of fat cells!
How Walking Builds Muscle
Most people are unaware of the benefits of building muscle. Building muscle doesn’t always mean you’re training for a bodybuilding competition. Building lean muscle can help you lose body fat.
Even though walking doesn’t involve barbells and weights, it still helps build muscle. It can also reduce age-related muscle loss. This helps you keep more of your physical strength and reduce age-related weight gain.
You may have noticed that walkers have strong and toned legs. Walking builds, shapes, and tones the legs and buttocks. If you’re consistent in your walking, you’ll notice stronger calves, quads, and hamstrings.
This isn’t the best way to “buff up” though. If you want to pack on some serious muscle, consider weight training.
How Walking Improves Mood
Been in a funk lately? Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but it could actually help you feel better. Exercise can do wonders for your mood.
All kinds of physical activity can decrease feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety. It makes your brain more sensitive to the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine.
These hormones relieve sad feelings while releasing endorphins, which make you feel happy!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you enjoy a physical activity, you’ll continue to do it.
This makes walking an excellent choice. It’s a moderate-intensity exercise that won’t be too physically demanding. Over time, you’ll look forward to your scheduled walk and feel great about doing it.
How Walking Keeps Weight Off
Let’s fast forward a bit. You’ve been walking for some time now and you’ve lost weight. You’re happy with your results and simply want to keep the weight off. Walking can play a major role in helping you maintain weight loss.
Remember, people who exercise frequently are usually better at maintaining their weight loss.
When you lose weight, your metabolic rate will drop. This means it will be harder to keep the pounds off. Walking can help prevent muscle loss and help you maintain your results over time. Lean muscle we mentioned earlier will also help you burn more calories, even at rest.
To maintain a stable weight, aim to walk at least 150 minutes per week. Increase this number if you’ve lost a considerable amount of weight. 200 minutes per week should be a good goal for you.
10,000 steps per day is a goodÂ goal for most people. Stay active by walking throughout your week so that your progress isn’t lost.
How to Start Walking For Weight Loss
So where do you start? Walking for weight loss can help you improve your muscle, reduce fat, increase mood and more.
The bottom line is that physical activity can help you live a healthier, longer life. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise like walking per week is ideal.
Walk for around 30 minutes at a time at a brisk pace. When this becomes easier for you, go the extra mile (pun intended). You can only reap more health and fitness benefits.
Remember, every little step helps, so start small and increase the amount you walk over time.
If you want to lose weight, you’ll get the best results by combining physical activity with a healthy diet. Check out these healthy eating tips.
This Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise For Better Sleep
The link between better sleep and exercise is well known. We’ll tell you the best time of day to exercise so you can rest easy and wake up refreshed.
As well as whole host of benefits, from weight control to fighting depression, exercise is also important for getting a good night’s sleep.
In fact, just 30 minutes of exercise three times a week was enough to improve sleep quality for sedentary women suffering from insomnia.
So, the jury’s in – working up a sweat during the day is key to sleeping soundly at night. But, is the effect is the same regardless of when you exercise? After all, it’s not unreasonable to assume that a late night exercise session might leave you too wired to fall asleep.
While it is true that the timing of your workout can have an influence on sleep, there are lots of different factors to consider. Read on to find out the best time of day to exercise for better sleep.
The Connection Between Exercise and Sleep Quality
It’s safe to say there’s little debate over the fact that exercising helps you sleep better.
In a recent poll, the National Sleep Foundation found that up to 67 percent of exercisers report getting a good night’s sleep. Only 39 percent of non-exercisers were able to report that they experienced the same high sleep quality.
And, the more intense the workout out, the bigger the difference. Seventy-two percent of vigorous exercisers said that they rarely or never experienced symptoms of insomnia. In contrast, 50 percent of non-exercisers said that they often wake up early, while 24 percent experience insomnia nearly every night.
Further research studied over 3,000 adults who tried to complete the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week. These participants showed a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. They also reported feeling less sleepy during the day.
And, this effect runs both ways too. Getting enough sleep means that you feel well-rested the following day and have enough energy to exercise. On the other hand, feeling tired after a bad night’s sleep is more likely to make you skip your workout.
But, what’s the best time of the day to get active for optimum sleep quality? Here, we compare how exercising in the morning, afternoon and at night affect how well you sleep.
Working Out in the Morning
Many people favor exercising in the early hours because it ensures that you’ve got your workout in before the demands of the day take hold. And, making the effort to wake up early and work out means you’re sure to reap the benefits of better-quality sleep.
In fact, working out in the morning has the added bonus of even deeper sleep at night. One study compared participants who worked out at 7 AM, 1 PM, and 7 PM for three days per week. Those who worked out at 7 am experienced longer, deeper sleep than the other exercise groups.
The same study also found that morning exercise has a greater effect on reducing blood pressure. During sleep, your blood pressure dips by around 10 to 20 percent.
The 7 AM exercisers experienced a 25 percent drop at night and a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure throughout the whole day. This drop in blood pressure is associated with deeper sleep as it one way that the body restores itself during the night.
And, if you exercise outside in the morning, you’ll also benefit from a dose of sunshine. Not only does this boost your vitamin D levels, but it also helps regulate your circadian rhythm for a more consistent sleep/wake cycle.
Working Out in the Afternoon
If hitting the gym at the crack of dawn isn’t for you, don’t worry. Working out in the afternoon also has benefits, for both your performance and your sleep quality.
By the afternoon, your body has had more of a chance to warm-up. In fact, it’s one or two degrees warmer than when you first get out of bed.
As a result, your muscles can work more efficiently and there’s less chance of you injuring yourself. You’ll body will be supple and more flexible. Dance steps will come easier and you’ll be more adept at complex full-body movements like swinging a tennis racket.
In addition, afternoon workouts can also help you fall asleep more quickly and wake up less often during the night. This is because exercise raises your body temperature for around four or five hours. Following this period, your core temperature decreases, sending a signal to your body to start preparing for sleep mode.
Exercising in the afternoon is also a great way to release stress and tension after a hard day at work. Focusing on the physical later in the day allows your body to take over from your brain. This then reduces the possibility of being kept awake at night by an anxious or busy mind working overtime.
Working Out at Night
Maybe exercising in the morning isn’t for you. And perhaps an afternoon workout is impossible with your schedule. Whatever your reasons, many people find a late night sweat session the most convenient for them.
But, does late night exercise have the same positive effect on sleep quality? Or, is it possible that working out before bed actually negatively effects your sleep?
There’s no single answer to these questions. It can depend on the workout you do, but when to exercise depends more on your individual reaction.
For example, doing yoga and Pilates at night is said to be beneficial for those kept awake by stress. This is because of the stretching movements and focuses on breathing help you to relax and unwind before bed.
Also, strength training at any time of the day has been found to improve sleep quality. That said, the time of day that you lift weights does make a difference to how your sleep improves.
Those who get their pumps and curls out of the way in the morning tend to drift off to sleep quicker than night exercisers. But, those who pump iron at night wake up less often and sleep better overall.
But, what about cardio before bed? It’s logical to think that a high-energy workout that has your heart pumping and increases your body temperature is not the way to ease yourself into a pre-sleep state. And it’s true – for some people exercise before sleep can cause insomnia.
But, that doesn’t mean that night-time cardio should be off-limits. The National Sleep Foundation found that exercisers report improved sleep regardless of when they worked out. In fact, in one study, male cyclists rode stationary bikes for three hours up until 30 minutes before bedtime and had no trouble sleeping.
Make Your Workout Schedule Work for You
To reap the many benefits of exercise, improved sleep included, your workout schedule must have all of ‘the three Cs’ – commitment, convenience, and consistency.
Commitment means making a plan and sticking to it. But, just as your plan is individual to you, so is your idea of convenience, as is how you can ensure consistency. If rolling out of bed and into the gym is the only way you can stay consistent, great. But, if it’s convenient for you to work out at 9 pm and you sleep well afterwards, don’t feel you have to change your routine.
Likewise, if you find that your workout schedule isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to change it. Many people swear by working out first thing as there’s less going on to side-track your best efforts to get a workout in. But, if you feel sluggish and tend to struggle through your morning workouts, don’t feel obliged to continue exercising early.
You might find that you feel more energetic in the afternoon or evening. Not only is your body temperature higher during this period, but your endurance also peaks around this time of day. And, getting outside for a mini workout at lunchtime is also a great way to boost your afternoon productivity.
Feel free to experiment with exercising at different times of the day and use an activity tracker to analyze your sleeping patterns. This way, you’ll know for sure which time of day is best for you to exercise.
And, if it’s more convenient to work out later, but you experience reduced sleep, try playing around with your schedule. Move your workouts around by half an hour or so and see what time works best for you. After some trial and error, you’re sure to find when to exercise for the best sleep quality.
The Best Time of Day to Exercise for Better Sleep
Some people are firmly in the early-exercise camp. Others say that a moonlit jog is the only time to get in their daily activity.
Whichever side you’re on, you’ll be pleased to learn that the best time of day to exercise is whenever it’s most convenient for you. And, whatever time of the day – or night – you prefer to exercise, you’ll still sleep soundly come bedtime.