MYTH: You Can Improve With One Type of Workout

Thu, 12/05/2013 - 12:02

Obsessed with your daily indoor cycling class? Or exercising to the same DVD over and over again? Working out every day is great, but if you're repeating the same workout, you may not be getting all of the benefits - or results - you could be!

The Truth: To continue to challenge your body and improve your strength and conditioning, you need to switch up your day-to-day workouts — and try something new each month.

When it comes to fitness, it’s so easy to fall into a routine. You might get wrapped up in inline biking or hiking — and start doing just those types of workouts all the time. Trust me, that is a recipe for disaster. If you want to get stronger and continue to challenge your muscles, you’ll need to switch up your workouts!

Your body adapts to any type of exercise. The first time you go run a mile, it is probably going to be rough. But by the 40th time you run a mile, it’s a lot easier, right? As you get used to a type of exercise, it becomes less challenging and, as a result, less effective. That’s why it’s so important to mix it up. Alternate the amount of weight you lift — go heavy one week with fewer reps and lighter the next with more reps. Change the type of exercise you do for each muscle. One week, do push-ups, then chest flies, then chest presses. You get the point. They all work the same part of your body, but in very different ways.

Follow a split routine to change up your workouts on a day-to-day basis. A split routine focuses on different muscle groups during different workouts. This is the type of fitness routine I used in my book, Making The Cut, because it is a highly effective way to train your muscles, prevent overtraining, all while achieving maximum calorie burn. A split routine trains muscles based on their functions and relations to other muscles. One way to split your strength training routine is to focus on muscles on the front of your body one day, and the muscles on the back of your body the next. You should always train your lower body — no matter which split day you’re on — because it is the most effective way to elevate your heart rate and burn calories. Always remember to train your muscles from largest to smallest to prevent fatigue.

Cardio days need variation too! Most people like to stick to one machine for cardio, but I want you to change your mindset. To reach your fitness goals, you have to let go of that “all-or-nothing” mentality. And let's face it — eventually, you'll need more than one cardio option. One day, the weather may be too messy for your usual outdoor jog, or all the elliptical machines will be in use at your gym, or your bike will be in the repair shop. Be flexible. If you only have a treadmill to work with, you can still switch up your workout by performing run-jog intervals in quarter-mile bursts, or walking on an incline. Try different fitness classes in your neighborhood or join a recreational sports league – better yet, coach one of your kid’s leagues and do the workouts WITH them. There are countless ways to consider changing your cardio workout from week to week, you just have to commit to making it happen.

The Bottom Line: To challenge and strengthen your body, you’ll need to change up your workouts! Try different forms of cardio, follow split routines, or simply switch up the weight you’re lifting and the repetitions.