Last week I mentioned that you have to keep upping the ante and making things harder in order to get fit and stay fit. I can imagine that several of you read that and then said, “That’s great Amy, but how the heck do I do that?”
First, an analogy (metaphor? example? I’m not sure. You decide after you’ve read it.) Anyway, imagine you’ve just had a baby. They start out nice and small and portable. If you’ve been carrying a 6 week old around for awhile and then pick up a three year old the difference can be shocking. As the new parent that you are pretending to be you think, “How in the world am I ever going to be able to carry around a three year old in a couple years?” The answer is that that baby is gradually going to get bigger and as it does, your muscles will gradually be getting stronger. This is the exact same thing that has to happen when you workout.
I would be the worst trainer in the world if in our first session I said here’s a bar with your weight on it, now do a chest press. But if I started you with just the bar (45 lbs) and each week gave you a few more pounds you would eventually be able to press your own weight. Now, doing that may not be your goal but that progression can be applied to any exercise routine.
If you’re a cardio-phile you need to keep going faster, upping the resistance or incline, or all of the above. If you’re doing weight training you need to increase the weight or make the exercise more complex by adding another body part (lunges with a bicep curl). You can also add instability (stand on one foot or a Bosu) or a plane of motion (Plank with a twist, a reach, or a leg lift).
There’s no right or wrong answer to how you make things harder. Google exercises and “exercise progression”. Use routines out of magazines. Heck, watch a trainer with their client and steal what they do. Dare to challenge yourself. Remember, you are a work in progress. Both “Work” and “Progress” being the operative words.