It is typical for people to find something they like and stick with it. This goes for exercise as well. If you find a routine, be it Yoga, weight training or running, you’ll be more likely to do it if you like it and more importantly, if it produces results. However, a routine can become just that, routine.
For the most part, anything new will work at least for a short time (generally, about a month). The problem is when that ‘new workout’ becomes a ‘routine’ workout. Here is why.
The Source of the Problem
The muscles of the body react to stimuli. If we stress a muscle to the point that it cannot handle a load, then the muscle needs to grow stronger in order to handle that load. If the load is applied over and over again (exercise), the body will adapt to the stimulus quicker. However, once the body adapts to that load it no longer needs to grow. Therefore, if the stimulus doesn’t change the body doesn’t need to change either.
A load can be defined as weight lifting (resistance training), running/walking (cardiovascular training) or stretching (flexibility).
Using weight training as an example, many people will find a routine that they like either from a magazine, a friend or any other number of ways. At first, they see some results because their bodies are not used to handling this new load. However, after doing the same routine for 3-4 weeks, the body adapts to that load and no longer needs to change in order to handle it. So, there are no further results.
When speaking about cardiovascular exercise, think about how someone has a favorite loop that they like to run. The body will take about 3-4 weeks of running before it becomes accustom to running the route. The body will know where, the big hills are, how long it will take you to run that route and how far the route is.
The Solution is Simple
The solution is simple. Change the stimulus! For example, for the cardiovascular training, run on the treadmill for a month, then do the elliptical trainer for the next month. The following month, get outside and ride a bicycle, go swimming or enroll in a kickboxing or aerobics class, or join a conditioning program! While these might be more drastic changes, a very simple change is to change the route you run. Even running your current route but in the opposite direction will change what your body is use to.
Why is a conditioning program (fitness boot camp) so good for you? We change the stimulus for you by doing many different types of exercises, which are typically exercises that you wouldn’t do on your own. Not only this, but we also make you perform these exercises in ways that you don’t typically do on your own.
With weight training, try lifting heavy weights with a low number of reps one month and switch it to a higher number of reps with lighter weights the next. Obviously, changing the types of exercises you do is a way to change the load as well (for example: chest press vs a chest fly).
Finding what works for you
Exercise for most people is not an exact science. Professional athletes have coaches who help them track their progress. You have personal trainers and boot camp instructors. Some exercises that you do will not be the right fit for you, but trying different exercises and routines will motivate you to keep trying! We all have to switch it up and see what works and what doesn’t. Keeping detailed notes of what you do and how you do it are going to help you get there faster. When you find something that works, keep it for later use and get back to it a few months later!
Tom Kalka has run Custom Fitness Concepts in Virginia and has provided custom exercise programs like these for more than 14 years. Check out our website to learn more about how a fitness boot camp can help you break the your workout “routine” and take it to the next level.