It’s often said that variety is the spice of life, and this saying most certainly applies to fitness as well. When you do the same thing in the gym each week whether it’s lifting the same amount of weight, running at the same speed, or doing the same core exercises, your body adapts to the stress you’ve imposed on it which means pretty soon you’ll stop seeing results and you’ll also burn fewer calories. Variety helps keep you engaged both mentally and physically which can help prevent boredom and keep weekly workouts consistent. There are many ways to shake things up, and here are a few tips!
- Try a new activity: Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to play racquetball, paddle board, or rock climb. Sign up for a class to learn a new physical activity, or learn from a friend or relative. You never know what you might end up enjoying, not to mention the new experiences you’ll have and people you’ll meet.
- Get outside: Taking a break from indoor workouts can be a great thing for your spirits, your fitness, and is especially nice in the summer months in my opinion. If you enjoy running on the treadmill, lace up those shoes and head outdoors instead. Habitual Stairmaster user? Take a cue from Rocky and try running the local stadium steps. Love to use the rowing machine? Get yourself in a kayak, rowboat, or canoe and enjoy the beautiful outdoors! Even in the winter there are many options such as skiing, snow shoeing, or ice skating. The Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA even offers outdoor specialty small group training classes and free group exercise classes.
- Take a different group exercise class: If you routinely take the same aerobics class each week or consider yourself a Zumba person, or a Spinning person, take a chance on a different class in the group exercise schedule. You might discover a new class or instructor you really like!
- Vary repetitions, sets, weight, and exercises: If you do one set of the same 10 exercises each time you lift weights, it’s time to mix things up! Try adding another set of each exercise, doing a few more or less repetitions (change weight accordingly), lifting a little more weight, or alternating the exercises you do. The exercises you select don’t have to be completely new each time; otherwise it’s hard to track your progress. New exercises every 4-6 weeks is a good place to start.
- Hire a personal trainer: An experienced professional personal trainer will create an exercise program for you with built-in progression of sets, reps, exercises, and load for resistance and cardiovascular training based on your goals. They’ll push you within your limits to do a little more or a little better each time. It always helps to have another set of eyes evaluate your progress and see where improvements or changes need to be made.
Go ahead and try something new this week! I’d love to hear what you tried in the comments section below.
In good health,
Ryan Healy, BS, NSCA CSCS