Getting Better All The Time

Even the best program has its limits and can’t deliver results indefinitely because the body adapts to it.

If the work, whether that’s the number of repetitions performed, weight lifted, or any number of other things, if that doesn’t change, then your body will adapt and not continue to get stronger, lose fat, or put on lean muscle.

This is not to say that you have to turn every movement into strength versions of the Funky Chicken with a lot of elaborate choreography in order to “confuse” your muscles, nor do you have to keep pursuing more (more weight, reps, etc.) when you feel like you’ve pushed yourself as far as you can go on any one thing.

This is more about strategically mixing up the work and having a simple plan to do so.

By the way, if you’ve not yet worked out at 513FIT, email me (Charlie) at about trying a week for free.

One of the cornerstones of 513FIT classes is strength work. There are other things we do like core, ground work, mobility, and conditioning, and those can be adjusted up or down as well, but those aren’t my primary focus today.

Let’s say that you’ve been attending classes for a while and you’re starting to hit a plateau. You can do the same number of push-ups, do the same number of kettlebell swings with the same weight, and while you’d like to improve, you’re doing as much weight as you can handle safely and don’t want to get injured.

Instead of settling into routine or banging your head against a wall, make it a point to strategically mix up the work. This will mean intentionally choosing weights that are lighter than you normally use and getting in more reps. Or this will mean picking bigger weights or more challenging variations, doing fewer reps, and not working for the entire 55 seconds for each interval.

And, while this all looks super cool and fancy, there is still this thing called life which has a way of throwing curve balls at us. Adjust accordingly. In some cases it’s better to show up, move a bit, and call it a workout rather than push through with a hard effort when you’re feeling tired or run down.

To reiterate, we’re talking about the strength aspect of the workout. These fall into four main movement patterns that train the entire body, along with a few that are more targeted.

The Big Four

  • Hip Hinge: Deadlift, Good Morning, KB Swing, Side Lunge, Single Leg RDL
  • Push: Push-ups, Judo Push-ups, Dips, One or two arm overhead presses
  • Pull: Inverted Row, 1 or 2 DB row, Drag Curls, Curl & Ext. rotation
  • Knee Dominant: Squat, Lunge

More muscle specific:

  • Shoulders; Lateral raises
  • Hamstrings: Stability ball leg curl
  • Triceps (backs of arms): Triceps extensions

These are the main movements that I’m referring to in changing up the work.

To make a movement harder, here are a few basic rules to follow:

  • Increase the weight
  • Decrease assistance (IE don’t use your legs to help on the way down with dips)
  • Increase the range of motion (IE step off the edge or the mat for reverse lunges)
  • Replace the stability ball with sliders for leg curls
  • Elevate your feet or perform push-ups on one leg
  • Elevate your feet on a stability ball or perform inverted rows on one leg
  • Shift the workload more onto one leg by using the kickstand or sprinter’s stance
  • One limb instead of two (IE archer push-ups, lunges, split squats, 1L RDL’s)

Here’s a simple four week template. You can keep cycling this for a long time and continue to make progress while keeping your training interesting and engaging.

Week 1: 5 – 6 reps

Significantly heavier than usual. If needed, use your legs to get “cheat” reps (push press, cheat curls, etc.), but that’s just to get the weight (or you) to the top position. Get to that top position and then lock in your posture and form.

For movements like swings, during a fifty five second interval, do two or three (at the most) sets of five reps. This will allow you to move bigger weights safely.

Week 2: 8 reps

Still a little heavier than usual. For swings, possibly do two sets of 10 within a single fifty five second interval.

Week 3: 10 reps

Now we’re getting more into familiar territory. The weights you normally use for this range of repetitions should feel a little lighter. If it feels right, it might be time to go up in weight or pick a more challenging variation with that weight.

Week 4: 12 – 15 reps

This is about maintaining a faster turnover rate while maintaining good form. Go lighter than usual, pick easier movement variations, even ones that feel as if you’re taking a step back (IE knee push-ups).

Another option is to change up the workload every time you train.

This keeps things interesting and prevents adaptation to the same stimulus. Here’s are a sample schedule.

If you train in class three times per week, your month might look like this:

  Monday Wednesday Friday
Week 1 Heavy (5 – 6 reps) Medium (8 – 10 reps) Light (12 – 15+ reps)
Week 2 Medium Light Heavy
Week 3 Light Heavy Medium
Week 4 Heavy Medium Light

If you train in class twice per week, your schedule might look different depending on a few things.

  • If you have access to heavier weights, then you might want to go heavy on a day that you work out on your own and alternate between medium and high reps when you’re in class.
  • If you don’t have access to heavier weights, then you might want to alternate between heavy and medium when you’re in class and do higher rep, quicker tempo work on your own.

To sum up, there’s no good reason to stay stuck in a plateau. You don’t have to get bored, nor do you have to try to run through a brick wall. Just mix up the workload and keep things fresh.

If you’d like to try a week of classes for free, email me at and you can get started.

There’s no obligation, no risk, and I don’t have a team of salespeople with who have rehearsed role playing games and are ready to badger you into buying whether you want to or not.

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