While it may not pay to be fickle in most things—our love lives, our career paths—it turns out you should be fickle when it comes to your fitness schedule. “Just like drinking the same beverage day in and day out, you start to become bored,” says celebrity trainer Teddy Bass, “The same thing happens with your body after doing exercises the same way, over and over, without any variation.”
Your body is designed to be efficient, explains ACE Certified Personal Trainer Helen M. Ryan, author of “21 Days to Change Your Body.” Because the body naturally holds onto as much body fat as possible to survive (it’s that caveman instinct in us), it wants to perform any workout using as little energy as it can while still managing to successfully complete the exercise. Over time, your body adjusts to the stress (or exercise) inflicted, and will use less energy each time. This means less calories burned and little toning achieved overall.
“The body changes from having great demand put on it,” says Bass. “There are three variables—intensity, duration, and repetitions—that you can change minimally and make a drastic difference in your workout regimen.” While keeping your goals in mind, you can keep your body alert and focused just by making some small changes to your fitness routine.
“I change up my own workouts pretty much every workout, and my clients’ as well,” says Ryan. “We do a few base exercises that they are comfortable with, and then we add different speeds, weights, balance, and positions.” Ryan recommends alternating between weight training, Pilates, yoga and cardio routines. This ensures the body burns maximum calories daily.
To stay motivated, however, some semblance of a routine is key. “In an effective workout routine, there is both consistency and variety,” says clinical psychologist Ben G. Adams, the author of “The Creative Process Diet.” “The workout itself occurs at a regularly scheduled time and place, yet the actual contents of the workout include variety, so that working out continues to be a fun, novel, engaging experience.” Remember, the mind can get used to a routine too.
Bottom line: Schedule your workout for the same time and place to maintain accountability, but add changes to the workout itself. Even something as simple as adding weight to a pull-up will maximize results.