As the seasons change (or at least attempt to) it’s the perfect time to get out of a workout rut and explore new, challenging ways to keep fit.
When it comes to exercise, many of us are creatures of habit. You may have a favourite class that you go to when you want to break a sweat, a trusty leg workout that’s your first point of call when you want next-day-DOMS or the same route that you run every time you lace up. But to really benefit from your workouts, you need to step outside of your comfort zone.
How do you do this you ask? Simply, take on a new form of training. Because if you’re going to put yourself out there, you might as well go all out.
CrossFit is a great type of training to add to your schedule, with a team element that is perfect for pushing you to your limits. Working together to complete a WOD. Nobody takes on the whole thing alone. It’s a team effort. You push yourself, and have someone push you too, to see what your body is really capable of doing.
Gymnastics training is completely different to a HIIT circuit or a spin class, but it has the ability to teach you and train you in pretty much the same manner. Therefore, its also a great type of training to take on if you’ve never tried it before. It’s likely to be slower than any workout you’re used to, but is still taxing on both the muscles you’re used to using and the ones you didn’t know you had.
So if you’ve hit a bit of a metaphorical brick wall, why is mixing up your routine worth a go?
WHY SHOULD YOU MIX IT UP?
Avoid a plateau
Adding variety to your workouts will keep your exercises from becoming ineffective. If you run at the same speed on the treadmill every day for a set number of minutes, your body will eventually become used to it and hit a plateau. You will still be burning calories yes, but you need to change one of the variables to really maximise your results. Think increasing the incline to make your run uphill, or whacking up the speed to turn your jog into a full on sprint. It is important to challenge your body in a way that it’s not used to, so it continually works harder as it adjusts. As your strength and endurance increase, so should the intensity of your workout.
Prevent injuries caused by overuse
If you do the same (intense) workout every day, you won’t be give the muscles used enough time to heal in between and you’ll unknowingly increase your chances of being injured. Repetitive strain injury is the reason you get hurt when you put your body through the same motions over and over again. This type of injury often occurs from the same repetitive motions, which are present in near enough all exercise – running, jumping, pressing, punching, they all perform the same movement on repeat. By mixing up your routine, you give your overused muscles (and joints and ligaments) a chance to rest and recover, before putting them into action again.
Keep your brain healthy
Exercise is essential for keeping your brain sharp. I know if I didn’t have an hour in the gym each day to focus my mind on something other than work deadlines or errand to do lists, I’d probably go a little loopy. Learning new skills, for example learning a new exercise, also helps gets the neurons in your brain firing better. So for brain health, it’s a double-whammy. Choose workouts that keep you engaged; don’t pick things that you can do on autopilot. You don’t need to overly exert yourself to reap the benefits, just keep your brain ticking.
No one wants to do the same thing over and over again. Where’s the fun in that? There is no limit on what you can do and where you can do it when it comes to keeping fit. Think outside the box and take your workout somewhere new; whether that be to a new class or gym or simply taking your run on a new route. Challenge yourself and be creative, because if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to stick at it.
You’ll usually be in a serious state when it comes to testing your physical limitations mid-class, so focus on the feelings that will overcome you after your workout; that euphoria, that sense of achievement. Your awareness of this will create subconscious positive associations with exercise whether you are someone who enjoys it at the time or not, and this will keep you motivated. And adventurous.