Challenging Yourself - Knowing When to Take Fitness to the Next Level

By Bradley White

After running a 7 minute mile, or blasting through a super exhausting kickboxing session, you're probably congratulating yourself on a job well done. And well, you should. Perhaps you've worked strenuously to get to the point where you were able to run at all, let alone run a mile in less than ten minutes. And let's face it, kickboxing most likely used to leave you gasping for breath and thirsting for a sip of water, but now you're a kickboxing powerhouse with endless energy.

But before you completely rest on your laurels, keep in mind that your body constantly needs to be challenged, especially if you have yet to reach your weight loss goals. So how do you know when it's time to take fitness to the next level? Well, below are examples of a few signs that it's time to "up the ante."

Sign #1: You've improved your completion time by several minutes

Remember when it took you 25 minutes to complete 5 miles on a stationary bike, but now it takes you 15? This is a sure sign that you're ready to move on to the next level, either by adding distance to your workout routine, making it more challenging, or a mixture of both. So celebrate your victory, but also look for ways to further challenge yourself.

Sign #2: Before, you pushed yourself through exhaustion to finish, but now you push yourself through boredom to just stay awake

If a forty five minute spinning session used to test your endurance and stamina, but now you find yourself just trying to keep your eyes open while pedaling, then it's a sure sign it's time for a change. If your workout is no longer challenging or if it becomes boring, then by all means, try something new. Perhaps for now you're content with one type of activity, but staying healthy is easier when you're motivated by your workout and not complacent with it. Fitness for life means stepping up and facing a challenge head on, and not hiding behind what you already know.

Sign #3: "Ten push-ups? Twenty? I can't feel a thing."

As mentioned in the previous signs, once your body starts to become accustomed to a specific exercise or routine, it's time to make a change. This is especially true if you lift weights. Instead of twenty tricep dips, try thirty. Instead of using your 5 pound weights for your bicep curls, attempt 8 pounds. To see results, especially when it comes to weight training, the muscle fiber must be broken down and built back up, for you, this may mean more weight, or more repetition.

Sign #4: You're no longer seeing results

Perhaps the most obvious sign of them all, if you're no longer seeing results, then it's definitely time to take your routine to the next level. After a while your body learns how many calories it needs to expend to perform a certain task. Exercise is no exception. The amount of calories you burned when you first started jogging months ago versus how much you burn now will definitely be less. And how are you going to continue to lose weight if you aren't burning as many calories? So if you want to see results, add intervals to your exercise routine or modify your routine enough that your body will be forced to move outside its comfort zone and continue to be a fat burning machine.