WHY YOU SHOULD ADD VARIETY TO YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE (and not just to change your body)

From my observations, there’s a few different approaches people use when creating a fitness routine. There’s the dabble a little bit here and there with a few different classes, trying out new things, a little surface level with everything from kickboxing & crossfit, to yoga and barre. Then there’s the hard core, all in-never-looking-back approach. From the crossfit every day and strict paleo dieter, to the ultra marathoner, running every day, never touch a weight type of person. Of course I’m using extreme examples and total stereotype language, but just trying to paint the picture for you. There’s also the “variety with a purpose” approach, which I personally recommend and use myself. 

There’s lots of different opinions out there, and everyones a little bit different with their views on what’s “healthy”, but here’s why I believe that a balanced routine, intentional variation, is the most effective approach towards the healthiest, fittest, happiest self!

First of all, let me explain where I stand before I get into the benefits of the approach. I’m a believer in sticking to something you put your mind to, and giving something a fair enough amount of effort and a chance before you quite on it. I have a lady that comes to my TRX class every week even though she’s always said she hates TRX, but she knows it’s an awesome workout and it’s targeting her weaknesses that she knows she needs to work on.  I believe that exercise should be enjoyed, but also balanced with things that push you. Sometimes the things we hate to do are what are bodies need to be doing. And that doesn’t mean that we should drag our selves through a miserable workout every morning. But find a balance between challenging yourself, and then just moving for enjoyment. I also believe that it’s good to get into something you’re passionate about, whether that’s crossfit, running, yoga, dance, or rockclimbing. Just remember to mix it up every once in a while, and here’s the reasons why.

  1. The body shock effect. This may be a more commonly talked about reason for changing up your workout routine. Our bodies are smart. They are built for efficiency. The first time we lift up a pair of weights and do some bicep curls, chest press, and lunges, we may be very sore the next day. However, if we continue doing that same routine over and over, our body knows whats up and what to expect. Our bodies our made to survive so they will put out as little amount of energy as they need to if it’s something it already knows how to do. When we change up our routine and keep it fresh, our bodies improve, we get stronger, burn more fat, improve certain skills, neuromuscular patterns improve, and we’ll see faster progression. 
  2. The mental stimulation. I don’t know about you, but exercise is not fun for me when I’m doing the same stuff day after day. Without goals, challenges, and new skills to practice, I can get bored and demotivated pretty quickly. Even just a change of scenery helps so much! If you feel a lack of love for working out, try changing one element of your exercise routine this week! Whether its trying a new area of the gym you go to, adding some hills to your usual running route, trying a new class, even just changing up your playlist or outfit can sometimes help. Boredom kills the fun and motivation, so keep it fresh and your outlook will follow.
  3. To be more functionally equipped as we age. Alright, the thing we all have in common that’s inevitable is that we are all getting older. And a lot of the time with aging, we get more and more stuck in our ways. We all know someone who’s older who has had a bad fall and hurt themselves. The first thing to go physically as we age is our balance. At the same time our muscles & bones lose mass naturally with age unless we do something about it! I’m a strong believer that with a life full of variety, especially in our exercise routines, we will be more functionally ready to take on the physical demands of life as we age. Our balance will stay sharp, bone density and strength can be maintained, and our mind will be ready to send the right messages to our bodies. Whens the last time you stood on one foot for more than 5 seconds? Give it a try! 
  4. To experience your body in a way you never have before. This one’s a little bit deeper, and may take a bit of explaining. I want to direct it to the people who either just lift hardcore, get yoked or die and rarely take time to stretch, practice body awareness through yoga, or let their mind roam on a long run. And on the other end, people who stretch, practice yoga, participate in lots of low impact, low intensity training, who may not push themselves out of their comfort zone too often. There’s good to both sides, and I’m definitely not saying one is better than the other. But let’s find the balance. For me, I feel powerful, confident, and strong when I’m lifting weights. I get this rush from pushing myself hard, through small bouts of pain, and seeing results with how my body looks, and how I feel. On the other hand, when I practice yoga, or go for a run, I feel so in tune with my body and more aware of the mind - body connection. It’s a peaceful feeling and trains my brain to tune in more without distractions from the world. Then there’s the experience of completely new exercise which is a challenge that’s invigorating, self fulfilling, and humbling all at the same time. I think we need all of these things that the variety has to offer. Power, confidence and strength, awareness and peace, challenged and humbled. Some of you may get these things from different types of exercise than I do, but you get the idea. 

To give you an idea of what a “variety with a purpose” training plan might look like here’s an idea:

  • Monday - Upper Body Weight session with HIIT cardio between sets
  • Tuesday - a 3-6 mile run outside + some stairs
  • Wednesday - Leg day with the weights 
  • Thursday - an intense 45 minute spin class
  • Friday - Full body Pilates Reformer class or TRX class (body weight strength workout)
  • Saturday - 45 minute yoga + 2-3 mile run or bike cruise or swim
  • Sunday - rest day, go for a walk or hike

Obviously it doesn’t have to look just like this, adapt it to what you like and your current fitness level. Try new things, practice things that are hard for you, stretch yourself, set goals that scare you a little bit. Even if you don’t want to change your body, do it for the mental benefits, and functional well-being. 

It always helps to have a workout buddy, or a coach to push you through things you may not do on your own, and to broaden your perspectives. Grab a workout buddy, and if you need a coach I’m here for you! If you’re in Spokane lets meet up in person, and if you’re somewhere else in the world, I can add variety and change to your workout plan with any of my online training programs. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll get back to you. We can start creating the perfect plan to fit your individual goals, give you variety, and work with your circumstances whatever stage you’re at in life.