Lessons from Shiloh… Mixing Up Your Exercise Routine

I noticed recently that I was taking Shiloh on the same route when we walked and to the same park out of habit and decided it was time to shake it up.  So we have done that, new routes and new dog parks, which has made it more fun for me and Shiloh seems to be more active and curious.

So I wanted to ask you…

Have you been doing the same exercise routine for a while?

The same exercise machines in the gym, the same intensity, duration and modality, whether it be treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc.  There are a lot of options out there, but sometimes we can get in a rut of doing the same thing and gravitate to what’s familiar.

I think it is important to gravitate towards what you love and get the most out of and often times clients would ask me, “What’s the best exercise or cardio?” and I would respond, “The one you are going to do!”  Sounds obvious but have you ever bought some exercise gadget and never took it out of the box or bought a piece of cardio equipment for the house only to use it as an expensive clothes hanger?  You’re not alone!

So focusing on the type of exercise that you are going to do is important to keep you on track and consistent but also mixing it up has huge benefits.  The body gets used to whatever you do to it, which means it’s an amazing adaptive machine.  You may have noticed that at the beginning of any exercise program that it can be a struggle, you get sore, etc., but as you progress it gets easier because the body is adapting to it.  Building more strength and endurance, helping you achieve the results you want, then there can be a plateau.

This is where changing up the type of workouts, can help you bust through those plateaus and also help the body avoid overuse injuries from being in the same position or working the same muscle groups, without balancing others.  For example in the ‘90’s when spinning became popular, I had clients that were spinning five to six times per week.  This was causing some to experience back pain and tightness from holding that posture.  Once we mixed it up, dropped them to spinning three times per week and adding some other balancing type exercises, they noticed less pain and saw better results.  Don’t get me wrong, spinning is a great form of exercise, it’s just important to notice how the body is responding to whatever modality you choose.

Mixing up your exercise also keeps it fun and keeps the body guessing in terms of how it adapts.  When the body adapts, it doesn’t have to work as hard and can get lazy, whereas when we shake it up, it’s getting stimulated in different ways.

How could you mix it up today?

If you have been in the gym doing machines, maybe it’s time to get outside, walk in nature, play a team sport.  If it’s only been weight training for you, maybe adding some flexibility training will open up those muscles so the weight training will be even more effective.  If you have been doing the slower fat burning cardio, add some high intensity anaerobic bursts or visa versa.  The body changes differently on a cellular level when you do aerobic vs. anaerobic training.  There is a lot of controversy and research about which is better, and I think there are benefits to both.

I also think it’s critical to not think of one form as better than the other.  They just work different systems of the body and the most important is what feels good to you and listening to your own intuition.  The body is constantly changing and what worked one year, may not work the next and what worked in your 20’s may not work in your 50’s.  You are the best judge for you.

Bottom line…Keep it fun, keep it challenging and keep it safe!!

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