Why you should keep your body (and brain) guessing.
Fitness experts recommend working out 3-5 days a week and varying exercise routines to avoid boredom, injury and the exercise plateau effect (when the body gets used to repeated exercises that become less effective over time). Here are a few benefits and suggestions for switching up your fitness routine!
- Fitness routines can become a bit too much of a routine. Spicing up your program may be what you need if you are finding yourself working out on “auto-pilot” or if you are looking to do more than just maintain your current fitness level.
- Cross training makes you stronger and helps you avoid overuse injuries.
- Switching things up helps with mental agility. By keeping your muscles and your brain guessing with new exercises, your grey matter gets a workout too!
- Work the Eccentric Phase: Muscles shorten and lengthen during a contraction. The lengthening phase actually results in higher muscle tension. Tension is the impetus for muscle growth, so work on “lowering” the weight slowly. I recommend 2 seconds for the up, concentric (shortening) phase and 3 seconds for the down, eccentric (lengthening) phase.
- Add in some Plyometrics: Plyometric exercises add an explosive component. Jumping jacks are a good example. These exercises build on a muscle’s ability to contract quickly and put extra stress on the elastic components of a muscle. Be careful with these exercises if you have any joint issues – ask your Fitness Centre Supervisor for advice on an exercise that is challenging but won’t lead to injury.
- Close your eyes: Our balance is greatly aided by eyesight. Try closing your eyes during a set of weights or intermittently during your cardio session. This will add some extra challenge to your balance muscles.
- Switch up the weight: We can get stuck doing the same weight over and over again. For muscle growth to happen we need to stress and challenge the muscle. If you are doing two sets of 50 lbs on the chest press, try switching it up by doing a lighter weight for the first set and a heavier weight with fewer repetitions for the second.
- Switch the order: It is a good thing to keep the body (and brain) guessing. If you always do the exercises in a specific order, try changing that order around (e.g. occasionally finish with cardio instead of always starting with it).
- Add one new exercise or technique per week: Challenge yourself with a new exercise every week or every other week. Your Fitness Centre Supervisor would be happy to help you out!
Rob Wynen, B. Human Kinetics, CSEP-CEP
Rob is the Fitness Centre Supervisor at Harry Jerome Community Recreation Centre.
His passion is creating realistic programs for his clients . He chooses exercises that work many muscle groups at once, engage balance muscles and include a flexibility component.
Contact Rob today
Phone: 604.983.6406 Email