What exactly does change it up mean? Well many of us are creatures of habit, we schedule our lives down to the very last minute and many times it will consist of doing the same thing; waking up, working, going to the gym, eating dinner then bed. Schedules are helpful, and consistency is important, most of the time. When it comes to everyday life, consistency is good because it allows you to develop a routine and helps to build momentum. For example it’s good to be consistently on time, or consistently good at practice or at work but when it comes to your fitness routine being consistent might be doing more harm than good. Don’t get me wrong, you should consistently go to the gym and be active but it’s important to vary your actual exercise routine!!
When we are at the gym or plan to work out, we stick to what is comfortable. We go to the same class, head for the same treadmill or elliptical, log the same workout on the same machine or run the same route when go for a run. Sure, there are definitely some benefits to performing the same workout routine especially when it comes to endurance. If you are training for a road race especially one of long distance such as a marathon, running multiple days and getting a regular cardio workout in is good. The more you run the better you will be at it, practice does make perfect.
Strength training is a more complicated matter, strength training needs to be repeated for a period of time in order to be effective. The first 4-6 weeks of a strength program are neurological improvements. Your brain is learning how to most efficiently recruit muscles to complete the moves. Then about 12-16 weeks is usually when you’ll start to see progress. The human body is great at adapting to whatever we throw at it. When we ask our body to run the same course multiple times it will become efficient at it. A run that you found to be a challenging, a sweat dripping workout will become an average workout. If you perform a chest press or squat the same weight over a course of time that weight will become easy.
One of the biggest reasons to change up a workout routine is to avoid plateauing. Plateau basically means when your body adapts and becomes efficient at it. When this happens you are likely to burn less calories doing the same workout than you previously did. When it’s a new workout your body will work harder to make adjustment to the new activity. To help you change up your routine follow the F.I.T.T principle which stand for
Frequency- how often you perform the workout. So instead of running 2 times a week try running 3 times a week
Intensity- how much effort/ energy you put into the workout. The best way to measure this is through heart rate. If you aren’t able to measure it through heart rate then try increasing speed on the treadmill by 1, by walking a little bit faster on your next walk or by increasing the weight by half a pound the next time you strength train.
Time – how much time you perform the activity for. If you usually run, walk or do the elliptical for 30 minutes try increasing to 35-40 minutes.
Type- what movement you’re performing. If you usually go for a run try cycling, rowing or swimming. If you use the same chest machine at the gym use a different type of machine. The machine can still target your chest as long as the movement is different (regular chest press vs incline chest press)