Gains! Making Progress & Pushing Through Plateaus

Many are looking to increase their strength and lean body mass struggle to make the meaningful gains they expect when they pursue an exercise program. There are many factors that can influence progress in both positive and negative ways. Some things to consider are:

Exercise Intensity: Intensity matters! Muscles don’t want to change and must be worked well beyond their normal capacity to force adaptive responses.

Here’s how to increase the intensity of a workout:
Work to failure – Are you pushing yourself to your failure points to force your body to change or are you coming in and doing the 8-12 reps at the same weight each week? You must test your limits if you ever want to force change. One way to keep pushing forward is by working to muscle failure. Muscle failure occurs when you reach a point where you can’t do one more clean rep without cheating or using bad form. There are many ways to leverage failure in your programs…rest/pause training, drop sets, timed rest, and negative reps to name a few. Ask a trainer.
Change your tempo – Are you so worried about getting to a number of reps that you are speeding through your sets? Give your muscles the time under tension they need to change by using the 1:3 rule, 1 second on the concentric (lifting/pulling) movement and 3 seconds on the eccentric (lowering) movement.
Increase the resistance, increase reps – As your muscles adapt, stress them more each workout by increasing resistance or adding more repetitions.


Overtraining: Overtraining often occurs when you don’t give your muscles adequate recovery time and rest between workouts prior to working the same muscles again. If you find yourself doing 35 sets for the same muscle group or working the exact same body parts hard on successive days, you might be overtraining. Building muscle and strength is an adaptive process of tearing down and allowing your body to build back up.  More is not always better. 

Types of exercises: Are you doing the right exercises to meet your goals? Are you neglecting entire muscle groups because don’t like doing certain exercises? Your trainers can work with you to choose key foundational exercises that are going to work big muscle groups and bring balance to your body. (Don’t skip leg day!)

 Not being consistent or training infrequently – Missed workouts are the bane of anyone trying to get results. Make sure you are stressing your muscles in a frequency that is right for your body.

Nutrition (of course): To spark those gains you have to definitely eat nutrient dense foods that give your body the building blocks and recovery fuel necessary to make progress. Empty calories like sugary sodas, candy bars, and potato chips can work against your energy levels and desired body composition. Muscles also need protein in abundance to grow, so make good choices to get the protein needed. It’s not by accident that protein is a key component in post-workout smoothies. If you find it hard to get enough protein in your regular diet, invest in a quality protein powder to substitute for snacks and supplement your meals. – Personal Trainer, Ray Haddox


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More to the Core-Stop with all the crunches!

As a trainer, one of the terms we most frequently hear is “Core.” Generally it is used when an individual is describing their mid-section or more specifically the abdominal muscles. And while yes, these muscles are part of the “core,” they are just a fraction of what makes up the core. So once you better understand the functionality of the core, besides it being aesthetically pleasing at a low body fat, you will know how to maximize core-specific training. In other words STOP WITH ALL THE CRUNCHES!

So what exactly is the core? The core is all musculature from the shoulders to the knees. We can further define this as “all the muscles that attach to your hips, pelvis, and low back” according to Cosgrove and Schuler, authors of The New Rules of Lifting for Abs. The core is all the musculature that surrounds, supports and engages movement of the torso or keeps it stable while the extremities are in motion. That’s right, it’s not just used for sit-ups.

From here the core can then be broken down into three different parts: the inner core and the two chains of the outer core. Without going too much into the specific anatomy, here’s a quick breakdown. The inner core is comprised of the diaphragm, pelvic floor, multifidi and transverse abdominis. The outer core is comprised of the anterior chain (front of body) and posterior chain (back of body). Most people are familiar with the rectus abdominis (six pack), obliques, and hip flexors. But since the core goes to the knees this also includes the hamstrings and glutes. Also shoulders and down so the lats, and traps. Basically when stating you want to train your core, most people are referring to the abs when in actuality the core is so much more than just the abs.

With that being said and what you are reading this for is “How does this apply to me?” well, I will tell you. For the most part “doing crunches is a complete waste of time”, that’s right I said it. Besides the general fact of you shouldn’t be trying to bend your spine from an anatomical standpoint it doesn’t really offer an effective training adaptation. Exercises such as planks, side planks, dead bugs (isolative core strength) offer a more effective result. Along with Deadlifts, squats, sprinting, and real-world movements (dynamic core strength). It’s with these exercises and as I mentioned before a low body fat percentage you will be able to see not just your abdominal muscles, but your entire core.

If you are interested in learning more about core training please schedule a free consultation with one of our certified personal trainers. Not only can we help get you a better mid-section, but help truly strengthen the core and reduce the chance of injury. And like I say “You can look like a million bucks, but if you don’t feel good is it really worth it? We don’t just build bodies for the beach. We build bodies for life and functionality”. -Personal Trainer, Matthew Welker

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Staff Spotlight: Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator

Today we are celebrating Jennifer Ince, Program Coordinator at Four Seasons Health Club! 

Jennifer has been teaching Group Fitness for almost 7 years and has been at Four Seasons for 3.5 years.  She started out as a Group Fitness Instructor and was promoted to Program Coordinator in May of 2017.  Her passion for fitness came from years of competitive running and lead her to pursue a Masters Degree in Exercise Science.  She’s always been fascinated in the science behind bio-mechanics and how that relates to exercise. Jennifer also holds a special place in her heart for working with our nation’s youth in order to prevent and end childhood obesity. She’s proud that Four Seasons has partnered with so many schools in the Bloomington-Normal community, so we can bring fun group fitness programs to their P.E. departments. Jennifer firmly believe that exercise should be enjoyable and is constantly looking for ways to bring some of our Four Seasons Group Fitness classes into the community!

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Staff Spotlight: Staci Yehl, Group Fitness Instructor

Let’s congratulate Staci Yehl on being nominated for the YWCA Women’s of Distinction award in 2018!

Staci was nominated for being the founder and owner of Blessed Birthdays, a faith driven and non-profit organization which provides birthday parties for children served through Home Sweet Home Ministries and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She was born and raised in Bloomington, graduated from Illinois State University, and is a Learning Behavior Specialist for Unit 5 School District at Northpoint Elementary. Staci believes that “Every child deserves to be celebrated!” and strives to provide dignity for families who can’t afford to give a birthday party on their own. The birthday child experiences a two-hour party that includes games,  crafts, prizes, food, and presents. The families can’t help but feel the love and support of their community during their party. Staci and her husband have two boys and in her spare time she enjoys teaching Group Fitness classes at Four Seasons Fitness Club.

Here at Four Seasons we couldn’t be happier to have such an outstanding instructor like Staci a part of our Four Seasons family. She embodies our core values and lives out our vision statement, “Transforming lives by creating a healthier community.” Staci, thank you for everything you do in our community, and well done on your nomination!  

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Sherrita’s Transformation

Meet Sherrita Fonger, loyal Four Seasons member since 2011. 

In 2010, Sherrita weighed 240 lbs. at 5’1″. As of today she’s lost 80 lbs! Since taking up swimming at Four Seasons Health Club she’s been able to strengthen her bronchial system to the point where she doesn’t need medication for her Asthma anymore!

WOW! It’s amazing what a little regular exercise can do for your body.

Sherrita’s advice to you is, “Whatever your goals are… don’t ever give up! You can do it!” 

Thanks for sharing your journey Sherrita. Your Four Seasons’ family is very proud of you!

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