Beat apathy by mixing up your workouts
We all know that variety is the spice of life. So why is it when it comes to exercise we find ourselves falling into a rut doing the same thing day in and day out. It could be a lack of knowledge or motivation to come up with something new each and every time that you come into the gym, but it is vital to a sustainable lifestyle of exercise to mix up what you are doing in the gym.
In my 10 years of training, I have seen that clients who incorporated a varied workout plan not only have better results, but also are more likely to want to continue long-term exercise.
A balanced program should include a variety of individual forms of cardiovascular exercise. That could include the treadmill, elliptical, swimming, or the stair climber. Don’t follow the same pattern week to week; rather follow your interest on a given day and choose what activity appeals most. Some gym-goers enjoy a more group-focused class such as a step class, kick boxing class, or dance cardio. Whether you have rhythm or not, it is a great way to have fun and blast some serious calories.
Resistance training or weight training can also add variety into weekly workout schedules and, if performed correctly, can vastly improve overall health. But people often get confused. They wonder how often they should lift weights, where do they put their hands on the equipment, are they targeting the right muscles? These are questions I hear daily, and it is because of these unknowns that people seem to shy away from weight training.
Exercise scientists at the University of Florida observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period enjoyed their program and saw more measurable gains than those who didn’t.
Whether training for endurance, power, or increased muscle, it is important to change your workouts often. When you mentally and physically challenge your body, you are less likely to plateau and more likely to see increased results. Pushing your body to new limits over a period of time is only going to make you stronger.
The concept of the dreaded “plateau” is a popular topic of conversation in my “office.” It can happen to anyone: Your program seems to being going right, and then after four weeks you can’t seem to make any gains. This is a prime example of how mixing up your exercise can challenge your body to push past this stall in the road.
Flexibility and stretching is the last area that is important in designing a varied workout program. Why is this so important? Well it is simple, really: Without stretching, your body would fail to function the way it is designed to. Every muscle is designed to function at a certain length and tension, and when that is altered in any way, your body compensates. This can result in injury or unwanted pain that could put someone out of the game for weeks, or even months. If you struggle with creative ways to work flexibility into your program it might be a good idea to look into taking a yoga class. This isn’t just a class for human pretzels; rather, it’s one of the oldest forms of exercise, which has been proven to help with chronic pain. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or have been at it for years, flexibility is vital to being successful in the gym.
While mixing up workouts might not be for everyone, it surely can help those who are struggling to lose that last 10 pounds or just finding it hard to get motivated to get into the gym. Physically and mentally pushing your mind and body leads to greater achievement while having fun and enjoying exercise — that, we can all agree, is important.
Vanessa Glanzer is fitness manager at The Alaska Club.
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