For nearly every activity in our lives, we need variety. Our brains and bodies get used to the same routines, and this leads to boredom, a lack of motivation and tapering results. Have you experienced this when sticking to the same workout structure or routine for a long time? In a sense, we like to stick to our same old routine because we know it works, we know it fits into our busy schedules, and we are comfortable with it. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to have control and consistency, but we can end up limiting ourselves in the mental and physical gains we could be experiencing by sticking to the same thing consistently during our workouts.
Mentally, our brains thrive on new experiences, and new experiences facilitate new growth of neural structures in our brains. New types of exercises, types of resistance, challenges in balance and surface, and changes in position can facilitate the growth of neural synapses in the brain and increase our brain’s function. It’s widely known that participating in a variety of physical activities can increase our overall health, variety being most important aspect. These benefits can also prevent the physical, social, emotional, and mental aspects of aging. Plus, providing ourselves with a new challenge mentally can help lower stress levels by distracting us from our normal thought processes and requiring a much higher level of mental focus on the current task we’re performing. When changing up our workouts, we can gain an increased confidence in ourselves as we find we can take on new challenges and excel at them.
That’s quite the bonus when we add it to the primary reason most humans exercise – the physical gains. If you’ve become attached to your current routine, think back to when you started it. Starting something new was a challenge and got you to where you are today, right? All the more reason to shake up your current workout, give yourself a new challenge, and bring yourself to a new level of fitness. If you don’t currently have a specific routine, but are looking for a great starting point, there’s no better time! Here are some great ways to bring new variety to your workouts:
1.) Exercise in different planes of motion
We all know that our bodies are built to move in more than one direction, and we utilize all planes of motion in our daily lives. Why then, would we stick to bicep curls, hamstring curls, front lunges, crunches, and shoulder raises that only move us in anterior and posterior directions during our workouts? We can change up our exercise routines by considering them as training to better perform activities in our daily lives, and add more lateral and rotational movements to our workouts. Try putting together multiple circuits for your workout, each consisting of 3-5 exercises that involve at least one exercise in each plane of motion – anterior/posterior, lateral, and rotational – within each circuit. The exercises individually can involve heavy or light weight; focus on upper extremity, trunk, or lower extremity; be static, dynamic, cardio, or plyometric; or any other variety you like. By switching up the muscles used, challenging to your core and your balance in different directions, and having to move from one exercise to a completely different one you’ll make the workout more fun and interesting. And you’ll experience a more well-rounded workout and more well-rounded results as well.
2.) Go outside
There’s no better way to change up your scenery than to take your exercise routine outdoors. Walking or running can be so much more interesting and motivating outside compared to inside on a treadmill, not to mention getting a better workout by challenging yourself with hills and uneven surfaces of a different terrain. The fresh air and scenery alone will awaken your senses and provide you with new energy. If you live in an area with multiple seasons, consider both warm and cold weather activities including swimming, hiking, running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. Exercising outside in the winter time can be a great way to break up the winter blues and keep your workouts going year-round. You can use elements of nature as part of your workout – Do your lunges, box jumps, pushups, or planks over a tree trunk instead of your typical indoor workout equipment. Have fun with it, and you might find yourself working harder and enjoying it much more than your typical indoor routine.
3.) Visit a boutique studio
There has never been a wider variety of boutique studio workout options than right now. In any given area you might find barre, yoga, cycling, dance aerobic, kickboxing, Pilates, and total-body fitness studios. An added benefit here is that you’ll be attending classes taught by educated fitness professionals who will provide a challenging workout for you, and all you have to do is show up and have fun. If you are new to exercising, this might also be a great place to start. Niche studios offering group circuit training programs can help you to become part of a community of people all focused on becoming more fit, with a healthy amount of competition added in. Research something new in your area that you’ve never tried before (Groupon is great for this) and check it out, or better yet, check a few of them out. The more variety, the better!
4.) Use active resistance
We can also increase the challenge and variety of resistance in our workouts by using equipment with active resistance. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls are all considered static resistance, meaning they have the same weight regardless of how we are using them. Active resistance, however, involves using dynamic elements to further challenge the body’s stability – the resistance moves and changes according to our own movements to provide an even greater challenge. An excellent example of this is the dynamic resistance inside the ActivMotion Bar. The rolling steel weights inside the Bar can be used to provide feedback regarding balance and stability when held in a static position and performing dynamic movements of the trunk and legs. The weights can also be used as resistance with dynamic movements including tipping, tilting, and swinging the Bar to tone the arms and core and challenge lower body stability. By working to stabilize the Bar with your arms, core, and legs. ActivMotion Bars are available at www.activmotionbar.com.
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