Breezing through your routine without breaking a sweat? It may be time to take it up a notch.
You've been a regular at the gym, local running path, or super popular boutique fitness class for some time now. At first each workout presented a huge challenge: You struggled to complete reps. You prayed to the fitness gods to speed up time so you wouldn't have to trot on the treadmill for another second. And you thought burpee was code for baby burps. These days, though, you can bang out those bicep curls (and burpees!), or climb for hours on the stairmaster without even breaking a sweat. What gives? It's called adaptation. And now that your body is accustomed to your workout, chances are your sweat sesh is a little too easy for you. You know what that means—you've got to push even harder to make those gains (but that's a good thing). Here, five cues that confirm your exercise routine needs an overhaul.
You do multiple workouts a day
If you have the energy to run 10 miles, spin, hit the weights, and then attend Bikram yoga, you might want to re-evaluate the effort and exertion levels you're putting into each workout. Plus, multiple daily sweat sessions without proper recovery can put you at risk for injury. Now, if for some reason a single workout just isn't enough, double up on ones that complement each other. For example, pair high-intensity interval training (like this 10-minute HIIT workout) with a yoga sequence (such as this routine for flexibility).
You can't recall the last time you were out of breath
Granted, everyone’s endurance levels are different, but heavy breathing or being out of breath for a short period of time is a good indicator that you're really putting in some work. Another: the talk (or sing) test. If you are training at a high enough intensity, you shouldn't be able to carry on a comfortable convo (or belt out the lyrics to your favorite Bey song).
You always work out at the same intensity level
Because your body is constantly adapting to your routine, it won’t be challenged enough if you do the same thing over and over (and over) again. This could also explain why you've stopped noticing physical changes. Try venturing into the anaerobic/maximum effort zone. Workouts that can get you there (such as this HITT treadmill routine and these fat-burning plyometric moves) don't last as long, but you fatigue faster because your cardiovascular system can't supply enough oxygen to your muscles to create the energy you need. I have nothing against steady-steady cardio. But you can also meet your “cardio” levels in this way too.
Your environment has become a distraction
If you spend more time selecting a playlist, finding the perfect angle for that sweaty selfie, or channel surfing on your machine's TV than getting your heart rate up, something's got to give. Now there’s nothing wrong with changing the playlist to suit your mood, or capturing a memory of the moment you hit a squat PR, but if you’re more focused on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, it's time to refocus ASAP.
You no longer feel accomplished after working out
No matter the style of training, when you call time on your session, you should feel a sense of accomplishment, whether it's because you were able to hold every pose in yoga class or because you finally bench-pressed 40 pounds. When that feeling disappears, try pushing harder.
Tamara Pridgett is a former All-American sprinter from The University of Arizona and a NASM certified personal trainer. She currently resides in New York City.