Workout Rut? Variety Boosts Results

“Tuesdays I do chest and triceps, Wednesdays legs and abs, Thursdays back and biceps …” Sound familiar? Wondering why you don’t see more results from your workouts?

Muscles and bones respond to stresses placed on them. That’s why we lift weights or cardio train. But all too often, people fall into a training rut — their workouts don’t change for weeks, months or even years!

When you're in a workout rut, your body eventually learns to perform the same exercises using the least amount of energy, shutting down muscles it’s not using.

Introducing a variety of exercises stimulates neural recruitment of muscles in new ways. It “wakes up” muscle groups and can “turn on” more muscle fibers, which can lead to improved strength and toning.

Use these tips to change up your workout and begin seeing some results — not to mention have more fun!

Short circuit your workout

Introducing short 10-15 minute circuits within your workouts can be a fun way to shake things up. If you like to do a lot of weight training, jump on a cardio machine or two for a few minutes between weight exercises. Add a new resistance exercise in there to mix it up and deliver something unexpected to your muscles. Then go back to your old routine for 15 minutes, then back on a different cardio machine.

Rethink repetitious reps

If you’re used to performing the same number of repetitions during your strength training routine, start changing them up. Increase the weight and do fewer reps, or slow down your flexes to lengthen the time it takes to perform a rep. Every couple of weeks, change up repetitions again to continually stimulate your muscles in different ways.

Get to know the tubes

Ever see those multicolored stretch tubes hanging around the gym? Or resistance bands you can work out with at home? How hard can those be? Try them in a timed session and see how it feels. Working a muscle group using time — instead of fatigue — as the determining factor changes everything.

Ad-lib an outside circuit

Remember those outside running circuits in phys-ed that had pull-up bars or sit-up planks every quarter-mile or so? Set up your own circuit by running by a park and using the playground equipment for a circuit station. Then go find some stairs to climb. Next find a track to run on and try some interval sprinting (sprint for a few minutes, then jog, then sprint, then run at a moderate pace, etc.).

Variety can not only give you new motivation — but also whip you into shape in a very real way you’ll notice in your physique and your overall health.


Rick Olderman is a physical therapist and owner of Z-Line Training. He provides rehabilitation, personal training, Pilates instruction, motivational injury prevention seminars, employee fitness program development and custom foot orthotics casting.

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