Could you be going about your fitness routine all wrong?
Regarding exercise, it’s very common in our society to hear people say that they are “headed to the gym”, “working out”, “taking a class” or “going on a run”. But what do these things really mean?
When it comes to exercise, people tend to be creatures of habit and will gravitate to the same type of exercise day after day. Of course regular exercise is good for you, but many don’t realize how important it is to vary the daily workout style. Not only will it strengthen different muscle groups, stimulate healthy brain activity and avoid overuse injuries … but studies show that it prevents exercise plateaus, greatly enhances your fitness level and keeps you committed to a workout routine much longer than those who do the same type of workout every single session.
Most people already know that it’s important to exercise your heart and lungs by engaging in cardiovascular activity, but many people are missing the mark on adding strength training, balance work, core stability exercises, flexibility and recovery to their workouts. All of these components are key to living a long and happy life free of injury and chronic pain. Also, adding variety to your workouts keeps your body guessing so you’ll burn more calories in the end, stay focused on your goals and avoid boredom. Most importantly, because you are constantly having to adjust and re-adjust to new exercise patterns and movements, it prevents overuse and pain in your muscles and joints. The human body is meant to react to changing environments and terrain. Pounding your legs on the treadmill or clipping in on the bike day after day is really not the best use of your time.
An example of an effective workout routine should look something like this:
Monday – Interval-style workout that alternates cardio bursts and strength training exercises that focuses on the major muscle groups
Tuesday – Cardio Kickboxing fitness class
Wednesday – Interval-style training that alternates cardio bursts and exercises that focuses on core and balance
Thursday – Yoga and/or foam rolling recovery and flexibility work
Friday – Dance-based fitness class
Saturday – Steady state cardio + resistance strength training (like a Barre class) that focuses on the smaller muscle groups and connective tissue
Sunday – Rest
This one-week example focuses on lots of different things, so the calorie-burn and intensity level is effective enough for achieving healthy and lasting weight loss, improving brain function, preventing injuries and enhancing functionality in everyday life (not to mention how fantastic you’ll look in a bathing suit!).
It’s also important to pick things that you genuinely enjoy! If you love music and dance, a dance-based cardio class is a great choice. If you like a physical challenge, a group HIIT class will give you the chance to push yourself to new levels. Or maybe a barefoot workout on the mat will provide that much-needed time to unwind and unplug.
In the end, the most important thing is to add variety and do something different as many times in your week as you can. And if you are just starting out, seek advice from a Certified Fitness Professional and commit to 2-3 workouts per week. Try to add more creative and effective workouts over time. Surround yourself with like-minded people that can act as your accountability partners who will encourage you to come back day after day and explore new forms of exercise styles.