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AllStarHealth Mailbag: Breaking out of a rut.

December 29th, 2008

Winter weather and holidays make it all too easy to get into a rut with your workouts.

Winter weather and holidays make it all too easy to get into a rut with your workouts.

Dear AllStarHealth,

Maybe it’s been our typical Minnesota weather, or the Holidays, or something else, but we’ve really gotten into a rut with our training. My wife and I go to the gym every other day faithfully but we don’t seem to be making the kind of progress we were just a few months ago. I think she’s losing her enthusiasm for it, and we’re kind of at a plateau. Are there any supplements that can help us get back on track?

Dear AllStarHealth,

I’m training for my first bodybuilding event which is coming up this March.  My lifts we’re going great there for awhile but I’m gotten into a rut. My lifts have plateaued. I’m no longer seeing any gains in size, or cuts, or anything.  I don’t have a lot of time left to work with and wanted to know what you’d recommend to help jump-start my progress.

Dear AllStarHealth,

I started working a new job in October and as a result of that, the only time I can work out is 5 AM. I’ve never really been a morning person, and I’m finding it really hard to stay on track . Even with a lot of coffee, I’m just not having good lifts anymore.  It’s all I can do to get myself in and out of there in time to get to work.  I’m in a rut. Are there any products you’d suggest?

We get a lot of variations on this theme. Most people who’ve made exercise a part of their life will get into a rut or hit a plateau sooner or later.

Is the problem as result of how you’re training, or how often you train? It certainly could be, but that’s not something we’re in a position to evaluate for you. So you may want to work with a trainer or have an expert evaluate your training routine to see if you are possibly overtraining or training incorrectly for your goals. In a nutshell, ‘overtraining’ means just what the term suggests at face value.  Overtraining  is the result of chronically exceeding your body’s recovery capacity.  It manifests in many different ways; loss of enthusiasm and energy, depression, loss of strength, loss of muscle tone, feeling stressed out and sleep problems. Most athletes will experience overtraining at some point.

But let’s make sure our expectations are realistic.

No matter who you are, even when you’re “doing everything right”, you should still expect to experience phases of relatively rapid progress, followed phases of relatively slow progress.  No one, not even the most elite athlete, makes dramatic progress on a continual or year-round basis.

With that said, it’s not unusual for that slow phase to turn into an outright rut. You lose enthusiasm and it gets harder and harder to muster the kind of fire and energy for your workouts that you used to have. The weights are feeling heavier, motivation is declining and  progress has come to a standstill.  You start finding excuses to skip workouts or cut them short.  It’s time to take some action and shake things up.

In terms of products, one of the best rut busters is a good preworkout formula.  These are complex formulas that attack your rut from multiple angles.  They boost your physical energy and endurance. They boost your mental energy, mood and focus.  And because most are consumed as liquids, they kick in fast and – just as importantly – clear out of your system fast.  So their energizing effects are consolidated into a 1-2 hour window that perfectly leverages the ingredients for maximum effectiveness and minimal side-effects.

Preworkout formulas can  really help you get out of that rut or push past a stubborn plateau phase.

Preworkout formulas can really help you get out of that rut or push past a stubborn plateau phase.

As a category, preworkout formulas have enjoyed explosive popularity growth as people discover the night-and-day difference between working out with vs. without a preworkout formula.  Each one is a little different in terms of ingredients, but all are designed to be taken prior to your workout specifically for the purpose of maxing out your physical energy, stamina and mental focus.  They almost always include some caffeine and other energizing nutrients to help get you into gear.  Most also include creatine and other performance-enhancing amino acids.  But none is as simple as just caffeine and creatine. Without exception these are fairly complex formulas into which companies put a lot of R&D resources.  You really have to try one to know what it’s going to  do for you, and many users cycle or rotate 2 or 3 favorite products since the effect of each diminishes with continual use.   But we feel that using a good preworkout formula (or a different one if you’re currently using one) is great way to help break of out of your rut.

Some good ones are:

Isatori H+ Blocker

Cytosport Fast Twitch

BSN NO-Xplode

Gaspari Super Pump

Labrada Super Charge

Universal Shock Therapy

If you feel you’ve been overtraining, glutamine might be another supplement to consider using in addition to a preworkout formula and the protein shakes or MRP you’re probably use already.

You might also look into changing up your workout routine, changing gyms, and working out at a different time of day if possible. If you’ve been working out with a partner, perhaps it might be time to try to working out solo, or vice-versa. Finally, an iPod or MP3 player preloaded with your favorite music can give you a big motivational push and help keep you in the zone by blocking out distracting background noise and indiscreet conversation.

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