If you already engage in regular physical activity, good for you! You are doing amazing things for your body and you’re likely enjoying a higher level of health than you would have if you spent all your time just sitting on the couch.
Because the human body is extremely adaptable, if you do the same exercises day in and day out, you’re likely no longer seeing the progress you did when you first began working out. In order to keep advancing, you have to keep your body guessing. The best way to do that is to mix up your exercise routine from time to time.
One of the easiest ways to change things up is to do one of two things: alter your intensity or duration. That means you want to change how hard you work out or for how long, or both.
When you look at changing your intensity, there are a couple of ways you can do it. You can alternate between days that are light to moderate in intensity and those that are high intensity. You can also do what’s called interval training and alter intensities within a single exercise session.
If you choose to do that, your workout may look something like this:
- Warm-up: 5-10 minutes
- 1 minute high intensity
- 1 minute low intensity
- 30 seconds high intensity
- 30 seconds medium intensity
- 1 minute low intensity
- Follow this intensity pattern 6-8 times
- Cool down: 5-10 minutes
Research has shown that by performing interval training, your body burns more fat for longer periods of time. That makes this type of exercise more effective than traditional stable-intensity workouts.
You can also alter the duration of your exercise from day to day. For instance, if you work out for 30 minutes today, maybe you want to aim for 60 minutes tomorrow. Then you can do 45 minutes the next day and 25 minutes the day after.
The more you keep your body guessing, the less likely it will be able to stabilize and plateau your workout efforts. If you’re going to take the time to work out, wouldn’t it be nice to keep seeing progress?
When it comes to cardio exercises, a lot of people get stuck in a rut. They commit themselves to just the treadmill or elliptical and don’t think beyond that. The result is likely boredom and, ultimately, giving up because it isn’t fun anymore.
If you find that you’re at this level, try to think outside of the box. There are lots of fun exercise options out there that will provide a great aerobic workout and keep your mind just as stimulated as your body.
Check out local classes that are available that peek your interest. Or, if you have a decent size back yard, create your own cardio course. Lay a ladder down and run through the spaces between the rungs as fast as you can. Put a series of hula hoops on the ground and jump in and out of them.
Be creative. If you struggle in this arena, just ask your kids or grandkids to help design a course that would be fun. They certainly have an imagination big enough to tackle this kind of job. And, as a bonus, it gets them interested and active as well!
Strength Training Options
Just as your body adjusts to performing the same cardio exercises, it’s extremely efficient when it comes to muscle building exercises as well. If you want to keep your muscles gaining in strength and endurance, you need to change up your program.
For instance, if you’ve been lifting the same amount of weights for a while, try to increase them. Don’t go up too much because you don’t want to hurt yourself, but aim for a pound or two at a time so that you keep advancing your muscles.
You can also change which exercises you’re using to work your muscles. For instance, if you’ve been doing bicep curls to work your front arm muscles, switch them to hammer curls (where your wrists face each other as opposed to facing upward). Each exercise works your muscles in a different way so change them from time to time.
Other Exercises to Consider
In addition to cardio and strength training, there are lots of other options out there that can help you stay in top physical condition. Some great options are:
- Pilates – Pilates helps to create a lean, toned physique by working to strengthen your muscles, improve your flexibility and give you better posture through controlled movements aimed at improving your core strength.
- Yoga – There are many forms of yoga available, but the basis of them all is that you strengthen your body and mind when you perform yoga type moves while engaging in breath control.
- Suspension Training – This style of exercise works your whole body, focusing mainly on your core strength. You use a series of ropes and pulleys attached to the ceiling or wall and follow specific movement patterns.
- Boot Camp Classes – Most gyms and rec centers offer these types of classes that incorporate cardio and strength training both to get you in great shape using military type exercises.
- Kickboxing – You’ll work all the muscles in your body, as well as your heart, plus get out some aggression as you either strike into the air or make contact with a hanging weight bag.
- Zumba – Unleash your inner desire to dance by engaging in this Latin-inspired workout that will get your blood pumping and your body moving to the music.
Of course, there are many other options depending on the area in which you live. Some exercise centers offer rock climbing and rappelling; others have spinning and water classes. The possibilities are endless, so try new things from time to time to keep your body guessing.
In order to have effective workouts, you have to switch things up every now and again. It will keep your body from becoming stagnant and your mind from getting bored. It’s a win/win for both.
Don’t have the attitude that you’re doing “good enough” by just getting your exercise in. Choose to excel and go above and beyond and your body will show the results!