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  • Oars + Alps

As the seasons change from winter to spring (or cold and wet to slightly less cold and wet here in Chicago), our minds turn to changes we’re making in our own routines.

The launch of our Spring Alps Challenge gave us the perfect opportunity to ask for advice from our Crew on how they embrace change in their routines to get more out of their workouts. First up: Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach Dan Castillo.

Personal Trainer Dan Castillo

Dan is a Founding Trainer at GRIT BXNG and Instructor at STUDIO based in New York City. Once a management consultant and brand strategist, Dan realized his true passion lay in health, wellness and fitness, and that's when he traded in his suit for Nikes. He is focused on pushing himself beyond his limits while doing the same for his clients and students, all in a safe, exhilarating, creative and fun environment.

Read on to hear Dan’s perspective on how to recognize and address a workout plateau and ideas for changing things up. Plus, don't miss his demo videos at the end of this post of stretches and exercises that can help you get the most out of your workouts.

How Do You Recognize a Workout Plateau?

"Many people believe they are reaching a plateau when they don’t see a distinct and defining difference in their aesthetic. Resist this measure being your primary definer of plateau. It’s very healthy to continue a workout regimen to maintain overall health and capability over time. Taking a step back or changing things simply because you’re not seeing notable changes in aesthetics can often be counterproductive to your longer term goals.

I truly sense a plateau in my workout schedule when I CONSISTENTLY have absolutely no desire to workout. By consistently, I mean 2+ weeks of not feeling it; it’s completely normal to have a low-energy day now and again. When I’m consistently burnt out or have no desire to get in a workout, that’s when I know that things need to change up a bit."

Dan’s Typical Workout Routine

  • 5 days of lifting, oftentimes with cardio/conditioning included
  • 1 day active recovery (e.g., yoga, bike ride, mobility, stretching)
  • 1 day off from working out completely

How Do You Change Things Up To Get Out of a Workout Plateau?

1. Tweak Your Programming

"Changing it up could be as simple as switching just one aspect of your programming. For example, if you always perform barbell squats, deadlifts, and lunges, try doing those same lifts with sandbags. Or maybe you’re constantly lifting heavy weight; try out moderate weight and greater repetitions or perform the same movement with pulley machines or bands. Even these slight changes will challenge your body and brain in new ways that make working out more appealing and enjoyable."

2. Bring a Buddy

"Ask a friend what they like to do to workout and go along with them. Take a class, go for a run, or just go to a gym together. Not only does it make working out a bit more fun, but you now have an accountability partner who will be right there alongside you to get in a good workout when you’re not feeling it on your own. Seeing their routine may inspire you in new ways and you may even find yourself being more motivated toward your go-to moves when you have a buddy to power through the moves with." 

3. Try a Completely New Workout

"Trying out something completely different than what you’re used to sparks a new excitement for working out. Way back in the day I tried out CrossFit and absolutely loved it. I was squarely against in-person group fitness classes at the time, but then I actually became an instructor. You’ll never know what new training modality could actually become your new go-to workout or, in my case, employment."

How Do You Ask More of Your Workout?

"Asking more from my workout doesn’t always mean pushing harder. Way too many people think that. We also need to set ourselves up for success with a healthy base of recovery, rest, and fuel. For me, that includes vegan protein, a percussive gun, foam roller, lacrosse ball, physical therapy, and sports massages.

I also take the time to enjoy cleaning up and refreshing after a workout. I really like the Oars + Alps Superfoliant Bar Soap to scrub off chalk and grime.

I like Oars + Alps Body Lotion to prevent dry, tight skin; no physical movement feels good if your skin can’t flex with you.

Finally, I love using the Oars + Alps Oil Attacker Face Mask to help pull out any impurities from my skin and the 10 minutes of masking time is a great way to quietly unwind at the end of the day.

To keep myself motivated, I like to think, ‘What I can GAIN from this workout?’ Sometimes it’s learning how to do something differently. Sometimes it’s slowing down and understanding how my body SHOULD be moving and not just going through the motions. Sometimes it’s jumping into another Instructor’s workout to learn something new. Change is good, and a welcome form of inspiration! Asking more of my workout is how I LEARN more about my body and myself."

Coach Dan's Top Tips for Getting The Most Out Of Your Workout

"Pre-workout dynamic mobility and warm-up drills paired with post-workout recovery methods are essential for preventing injury and getting the most out of your workout especially as we get older."

Pre-Workout Dynamic Mobility

"I usually start my mornings with about 20-minutes of pre-workout dynamic mobility drills such as:

  • Plank Walkouts

  • World’s Ultimate Stretch

  • Upward to Downward Dogs

  • Spinal Mobility Twists

  • Dynamic Pigeon Pose

  • Chest and Bicep Stretch on Stomach

  • Dynamic Child’s Pose

  • Squat to Opposite Side Arm Rotations

  • BREATHING exercises

Dynamic Mobility for Leg-Focused Activities Such As Running

  • Runner’s Kicks or Zombie Marches

  • Good Mornings

  • Ostrich Steps

  • Standing Heel Raises

  • Stationary Squats

  • Alternating Lunges

  • Side Kicks

  • Curtsey Lunges

Post-Workout Recovery Stretches

  • Child’s Pose

  • Lunge to Overhead Reach

  • Thread the Needle

  • Seated Toe Reach (to stretch out the hamstrings)

  • Back Laying Knee Drops

  • Neck Stretches and Shoulder Shrugs

• • •

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