Monday, March 15, 2010

Hint #4: Keep your Body Guessing

My older brother, Bill, and I were talking about exercise the other day, and he said something worth quoting. "The biggest thing I've learned is that you need to keep your body guessing.", Boy, oh, boy, did he hit the nail on the head.

Bill has made some amazing strides with his fitness over the past year, and a lot of it has to do with the variety of his workouts. You will never find him doing the same workout two days in a row. This is good practice no matter what your exercise goal - weight loss, improving physical fitness or sports performance, toning, or even adding bulk.

Our bodies are very good at adapting, regardless of the situation. Think back to your first day at a new job. Was it stressful or challenging in any way? Usually a new environment can be challenging, but we eventually adapt and are able to develop some form of a routine.

Think about how that applies to exercise. As your body becomes used to a certain workout, you will require less energy to complete the same routine. Over time, this is a recipe for the dreaded "fitness plateau." When we fail to challenge ourselves, we will simultaneously fail to see progress.

I challenge you to do something different every single day, or at least change one component of your workout. If you are a regular walker, mix up the route, or, add short bursts of jogging every few minutes. For resistance training, my brother's advice was to utilize gym machines for select muscle groups (i.e. upper body) one day, and use free weights for those same muscle groups later in the week, while also making a point to add in a few new exercises.

There are so many ways you can add variety to your routine. Pick a new route. Switch up the intensity. Try a new class. Buy a new workout DVD. Add intervals. Try circuit workouts. Change the number of sets or repetitions. Experiment with a new type of exercise.

The key to seeing results, no matter what your goal, is stepping outside your comfort zone. Or, as Bill says, just remember to "Keep your body guessing." Do something new in your workout today!

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