The Fourth Fitness Truth

July 30th, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

(Sad) Fitness Truth #4: 30 Minutes a Day Doing the Same Old Thing Isn’t Going to Do It For You

(Happy) Fitness Truth #4: Mixing Up Your Routine Keeps You Interested, Involved, and Improving

Ah.  Yes.  The regular workout.  The “I can talk on my cell phone while I’m on the treadmill, and catch the latest gossip  in the magazine or sports on TV, and be done in time for dinner” kind of workout.

Yeah.  That one.

Well, it does have its benefits in there.  The thing is, the benefits dwindle each time you repeat the same mid-level workout because your body is so good at adapting to its most efficient state.  You need to keep your body guessing if you want to continue to see results.

So, if you’ve been working out for more than a few months, you need to start changing things up if you want to bust off a plateau and kick some serious butt. 

For runners, that might mean increasing your speed, adding intervals, adding a mile or adding hills.  Whew.  That should do it!  For walkers, get moving farther within the same period of time, or add intervals, and add hills.  You should as always go for an intense workout if you want to see results.  Intense means precisely that: you should finish sweaty and tired and say “phew; that was hard, but it was awesome!”

If you aren’t up for kicking up the workout, change it up instead.  Try out a new cardio machine at the gym, or bring a friend on a hike, or dust off those roller skates or dig out that soccer ball.  Sign up for a fitness class at the rec center in your city.  Do something you haven’t done before! 

Your body is an amazing machine and it strives for efficiency all the time.  When you repeat a workout and repeat the same level each time, you are performing the workout more efficiently and therefore not working as hard as your fitness improves.  It’s a bummer in some ways, but pretty cool in other ways.  It’s how we all get stronger or faster – those professional athletes who can run a 4 minute mile on the track and don’t even look like they are working hard?  They put in the time and training to teach their bodies how to move efficiently at that speed.  Amazing, isn’t it?

So rather than feel sad that your workouts will bring you diminishing returns, look on the fun side of things—that means that for the same energy output, you will soon be able to get more!  Rather than always doing a pushup with bent legs, change things up for yourself and start adding in some straight-leg pushups.  Grab ten or twelve pound weights instead of five or eight pounds.    There are an infinite number of ways to challenge yourself in a workout.  So get going if you want to continue to see results.

Make your workouts work for you!

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