Explode burnout with plyometrics and sprint work

Turn back the downward spiral of burnout  Credit: Gary Newkirk/Allsport
Work out for any length of time and your bound to face it sooner or later ? the dreaded condition known simply as ?burnout.? No matter how enthusiastically you start out, and no matter how much you love working out, eventually you will hit a period when going to the gym doesn?t sound all that appealing.

This really isn?t surprising considering that most gym-goers tend to follow the same basic workout program for months and even years on end. If you had the same thing for breakfast every day you?d eventually get tired of it too, wouldn?t you? What makes your exercise program any different?

Humans thrive on change and variety, both physically and mentally. Our bodies need different stimuli in order to continue progressing. Keep doing the same program and your body will get used to it and your fitness levels will plateau. Perhaps even more importantly, our minds need the change to stay interested.

Just like riding a bike eventually became a mindless task once you got used to it, doing the same routine over and over again will result in your workouts becoming mindless tasks as well. Simply taking time off and coming back to the same old routine won?t solve this problem. Only by varying your workout techniques can you avoid this.

Sensing this growing trend among exercisers, progressive personal trainers everywhere have started to integrate some unconventional workout methods into a client?s overall program. Drawing from sports other than bodybuilding, in many cases these trainers have taken workouts outside the gym, adding to the program?s overall enjoyment in the process.

One of the most versatile and useful locations is the local track. Using a few portable pieces of equipment and a stopwatch, trainers have taken fitness to a new level, adding components of speed and agility to their client?s workouts.

Sprint Training
Sprint training is also referred to as interval training in some circles, but no matter what you call it the benefits are numerous to say the least.

From a functional standpoint, sprinting just plain gets you moving faster. This translates over to a lot of everyday activities. From something as simple as running around to keep up with the kids to sprinting for a bus you?re late for, sprint training teaches the body to move quickly and fluidly again, something most people forget how to do as they age.

From an aesthetic standpoint, sprint training will firm the glutes and hamstrings better than any exercise you can do in a regular gym setting. Just take a look at the outstanding hamstring/glute development on a world-class sprinter.

Sprint training can also replace a few regular aerobics sessions. It takes less time to complete and burns just as many calories, if not more, than the more conventional, slower-paced aerobics.

One of the most common ways to ease into sprint training is to start with five sets of 25-meter dashes with 30-60 seconds rest between each one. You should work up gradually, adding 5-10 meters every few weeks until you have built up to 50 meters.

Once you have completed five sets of 50-meter dashes, start to add an extra set to the workout. Once you can complete 10 sets of 50-meter dashes, start to add 5-10 meters every few weeks once again until you reach the goal of 10 sets of 100-meter dashes.

You will need a good pair of running shoes for this, and individuals with high blood pressure or heart problems should avoid this type of training.

Plyometrics
Plyometrics have been used in athletic programs for some time now and their inclusion in general fitness programs is beginning to pick up as well.

Much like sprint training, plyometrics help reverse the slowing down process many individuals go through as they age. By working on and strengthening the nervous system, plyometrics re-teach the body to move quickly and explosively.

Usually consisting of various jumping drills for lower body and medicine ball drills for upper body, plyometrics are being enthusiastically accepted as an integral part of many training programs. People find them to be very fun and exciting, and trainers are finding that their client retention is higher among those who use plyometric drills.

Plyometrics are not for everyone, however, and should only be undertaken after a you have built a strong base level of fitness. They also follow very different rules than more conventional exercises do.

First and foremost, they should never be performed ?to failure.? A set should consist of no more than 10-15 repetitions and must be stopped if speed and form can no longer be maintained.

Training to failure with plyometrics is counterproductive and very dangerous. Sets and rest intervals can vary depending on your goals and fitness levels.

Dr. Donald Chu is one of the leading experts on plyometric training, and his book Plyometric Exercises With the Medicine Ball is a must-read for anyone looking to integrate this training method into a strength program.

Agility Drills
Most often used by football players, agility drills are another sport-specific training method that is gaining popularity among non-athletes.

Much like the previous two training methods, agility drills are designed to get someone moving faster and more fluidly. Ranging from something as simple as running backwards to the common shuttle run, these drills can be rather simple and fun to learn and implement.

One of the most common drills implemented makes use of the lines on the football field, usually found at the center of the track field. If no football field is available, some people will also set up small cones at distances similar to the lines on a football field.

Called "line runs" by some, this drill starts you at the goal line, running to the fifth line (25-yard line) on the field. After quickly reaching down and touching the line, reverse direction and run back to the goal line.

After touching the goal line, reverse direction and run to the forth line (20-yard line) on the field, repeat the touch, reverse and dash until you have worked your way down to the last line (5-yard line).

One to two sets are all that is necessary when starting out but, as clients progress, extra sets and longer distances are added to increase the intensity level.

There is a lot more that can go into an exercise program than simply spending three days in the weight room and three days on the treadmill. Over 80 percent of those who undertake an exercise and diet program give it up in the first year, mainly because their results stopped coming, and the routine got boring.

Considering how easy it can be to use some or all of the above suggestions to spice up an exercise program, this new trend is one that is bound to help us improve on the success rate.

Copy provided by International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA).

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