By Troy Moore
From your morning spinning class before work to “bench press Mondays,” falling into a comfortable, recurring workout routine can be often thought of as the ultimate fitness end goal. However, continuously repeating the same workouts may be actually more hurtful to your goals than you think.
First, for any of us who are just trying to maintain a routine workout schedule, it can be much easier to stay mentally engaged with a varied routine. The feeling of boredom or drastic decrease in motivation to exercise is often referred to as exercise staleness. This feeling can be pretty common when physical activity is built around the same few dumbbell exercises or morning runs every week.
The second and perhaps more important reason for avoiding the same exercise routine is the lack of physical difficulty or decline in benefits. As the frequency of exercise increases, there comes a point where your body adapts and is not challenged as much during the same activities. Simply put, a self-paced jog originally used to burn about 350 calories can quickly go down to just 200 without any changes. Likewise, there is also a loss in muscle-building potential without trying new variations during your presses, pulls and squats.
Luckily, we can fight against this in a few quick ways that do not require a drastic change from your current routines. For one, just try working out in reverse order. Doing a quick circuit moving from core to legs to arms could work well for you to start. After a few weeks, try starting with the upper body exercises first, then make your way your muscles below—and notice the difference.
For example, doing three sets of the following series:
20 bodyweight squats
Can actually feel much different from doing three sets of the series below.
20 bodyweight squats
Another easy method for adding variance to exercise is the alternating method. This technique is a great way for someone who has very specific goals to avoid excessive fatigue or monotony during training. When building abdominal strength, instead of performing crunches for every session you can add in a stability ball or raised legs on certain days for an additional challenge.
The alternating method can also be used within a single period of exercise. As waking up for a cardio session every morning can often become daunting, adopting a ‘run-jog-run’ or ‘jog-walk-jog’ approach not only provides a change of pace but an active rest period for you to catch your breath and push for additional time.
Whether doing a cardio-based, strength training, or combined exercise regimen, remember that small changes can produce significant results.
Troy Moore is a certified exercise physiologist and a student in the kinesiology and exercise science program at FIU. He currently works as the graduate assistant of fitness at the Wellness and Recreation Center.