Avoid an Exercise Rut: Vary Your Workouts!
Are you caught in a rut when it comes to your exercise and fitness goals? Have you hit a weight loss plateau? It may be your exercise routine. If you perform the same series of exercises every time you go to the gym, you’ll probably hit a “wall”. Results can often be seen very quickly after someone starts an exercise program. After all, going from doing nothing to doing something is a significant change. But after that initial improvement, you might hit an exercise plateau or a weight loss plateau. This is when you don’t see any more gains in strength and endurance or the number on the scale stops moving. This typically happens when you’ve been engaging in the same old exercise routine for 4 or more weeks. In short, your body has adapted to your routine, and has become more efficient in performing these movements. Therefore, your body is no longer challenged in the way that it used to be. Switch it up in order to keep your body working hard – integrate some new movements into your routine to keep your body challenged!
Here’s What to Do:
- Substitute one or two new exercises for old ones.
- Switch up the sequence of exercises in your circuit and add squats in between each circuit. I call them “chairs” because it seems like less work. After all we sit and stand all day so that’s no intimidating! In between sets of weights or circuits, I do about 20 chairs. I actually use a chair and just come short of sitting down, making sure my knees don’t go past my toes.
- If you’re usually a cardio person, try doing some interval training a couple of days per week. Make sure to include resistance training at least twice, ideally 3 times per week, as well – and cut back on the cardio!
- Do speed intervals sometimes, and increase resistance at other times. If running, include hills for resistance; if on an elliptical or treadmill, up the resistance and break up your time. For example, do the elliptical for 15 minutes, then 15 minutes of sit-ups, jumping jacks or kicks – then get back on the elliptical. The specifics are up to you, just make sure to do something different than you normally do.
- Aim to switch up your routine every few weeks or so. It doesn’t have to be a whole redesign – simply increasing the resistance and decreasing the repetitions may do the trick. Invest in some resistance bands to add to different movements like these leg exercises.
- If you run, try your loop in reverse. The hills will come at different times or be more or less gradual so your body will not be expecting them. If you cycle indoors on a spin bike, get off and do 10 minutes of stepping, then switch to another cardio machine.
- Get new shoes! A new pair of kicks might be just what your workout needs to get you moving faster. Get fitted at your local running store to make sure you are wearing the right pair for your foot strike.
- Try a community exercise class like Zumba, tribal dance, or belly dancing.
- Listen to music, or change your workout mix to something new and upbeat.
- Ask your friends about their favorite workout DVDs – maybe you can swap your yoga for their BAR DVD. Just switch it up!
Lastly, try to get your partner involved in an exercise routine, your family or a friend. Having companionship can bring about new ideas to switch up your routine!