Whether you have your gym routine locked down and the scale isn’t budging or are bored to the point of turning in your training shoes and gym membership, your body will benefit from a change of pace. Aside from keeping your workouts fun and fresh, mixing them up will make your gym routine sustainable because you’ll keep doing it—you are in this for the long haul, remember? Best of all, if you want to drop pounds, increase muscle definition, strengthen your core or improve your balance, mixing up your routine will deliver the results you want.
Why Sustainable Exercise is Key to Your Fitness Success
Many of us are creatures of habit. (I love my morning tea and toast.) It’s easier to keep doing what we’ve been doing than it is to mix it up—whether or not it’s in our best interest. Sometimes the habit is good, even great. Flossing, anyone? Other times the habit may be holding us back—keeping us creatures of habit rather than creators of change.
In order to reach the fitness level for the body you deserve and desire (which takes an investment of time and effort), your routine must be sustainable. Sustainable exercise means:
- remaining injury free over the long haul
- or reducing the likelihood of injury
- or working to your full potential within the limitations of your injuries
- looking forward to the workout instead of dreading it
- developing practices that keep you from becoming bored or complacent—in other words, seeking exercises and activities that challenge you and/or keep teaching you what your body can do
- accepting that what you like to do and what is comfortable may not be the best way for you to achieve the results you’re working for so…
Mix it up.
Why Mixing Up Your Gym Routine Delivers Results
To illustrate the benefits of mixing it up, here’s a quick story: A woman in her mid-30s came to one of my Super Circuit classes. Told me she’s been a distance runner since her teens, but felt the need to strengthen her upper body and was also curious why she had been unsuccessful at trimming a few extra pounds. She runs all the time, right? Even though she loves to run, there was still a need to mix it up. After three weeks of blending total body workouts in with her running, she lost eight pounds and saw her core and upper body strength improve significantly. And—surprise—she improved her running time. What happened?
The simple answer is that our remarkable bodies grow accustomed to repetitive exercise and become efficient at expending just the “right” amount of energy to get the job done. No more, no less. Imagine what would happen if you only lifted two-pound weights. Your body would get very good at lifting two pounds, but would struggle to lift more. Or imagine 30 minutes on your machine of choice at a steady state of low-level cardio. While it may feel good, it will always be 30 minutes spent expending the same amount of energy with the same muscle groups getting more efficient at the movement.
If you are looking to drop pounds or get some muscle definition, strengthen your core or improve your balance, branch out and use your body in new ways, in different planes and ranges of motion. When we add exercises to our routines, we use other muscle groups, or the same muscles in different movements, and caloric expenditure can change. This is especially true with strength and interval training.
Coming up next week: Measuring results—why bother?
Until then, Go Well!