Thursday, March 4, 2010

Variety = Results!

We are creatures of habit, even more so I've noticed, as we get older. We tend to create routines that have a guaranteed outcome with no surprises. That may be ok when dining out but can be counterproductive when working out.

Performing the same activity repeatedly at the same level makes the body more efficient, which eventually results in lower caloric expenditure during the exercise.
This is also known as "adaptation syndrome" and has been shown to decrease calories
burned as much as 25%.

A way to avoid these plateaus in fitness level and fat/weight loss is with CROSS TRAINING, which is a term that refers to a fitness routine that involves several different forms of exercise. By mixing up your routine with a new form of exercise, you are surprising your body, which responds by burning more calories in an effort to "adjust" to the new movement (this is also known as "muscle confusion"). Cross training will also help prevent muscle strength imbalances that can develop and reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse.

For Valentines Day, I made a video for Greg with 3 different exercise intervals that combined cardio and strength. (Blaire had a good time laughing at me while behind the camera!) He works out at home but had gotten into a rut of the same workout so now I can tell him what to do even while I'm away! heehee

It is great to get out and walk the neighborhood for some cardiovascular exercise but if you are not changing the route, pace or intensity, you will not get the same results after 6-8 weeks.

If you get most of your workouts on a treadmill or eliptical, it is important to vary the settings each time. Walking on an incline will engage more leg muscles for a harder workout. Doing 30 second bursts of sprinting in intervals will really shock your mucles!

As a group fitness instructor, I am always looking for ways to vary the aerobic segments in class. If we do the same low impact moves every week without adding something different, our bodies will become too conditioned and limit progress. New methods of exercise are needed in order to boost metabolism and get better results.
Or just increase the intensity by pushing yourself a little more during class.
The same is true for strength training, by keeping a variety of resistance with machines, free weights, bands, pilates and yoga.

Greg and I got bicycles for Christmas and now that I have replaced the skinny painful seat with a comfy saddle seat, I can't wait to get outside this weekend and enjoy the -hopefully- spring-type weather. My leg muscles will really be confused!!

So try doing some form of cross training for more gains in fitness, weight loss and less boredom. Variety is the spice of life!

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