February 9, 2011
Individuals should consider varying their exercise routines for two fundamental reasons: (1) to prevent boredom associated with doing the same things workout after workout and (2) to avoid or delay reaching a plateau in workout performance and, subsequently, training results. Research has shown that adding variety to an exercise program can improve adherence. Exercise scientists at the University of Florida observed that individuals who modified their workouts every two weeks over an eight-week period appeared to enjoy their workouts more and were more inclined to stick with their exercise programs when compared to individuals who followed the same workout regimens week after week. Varying your exercise routine can also help you stay physically challenged. Many of the body's physiological systems (e.g., the muscular system) adapt to an exercise program within approximately six to eight weeks. If you do not modify your exercise routine, you reach a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus.
There are several ways you can spice up your current workout routine, including boosting the intensity of your workouts. For instance, if you walk or run, try incorporating some intervals of jogging or sprinting or adding more hill work to your route. You can also cross train and perform different activities to provide your body with a new challenge. A nice alternative for resistance-training exercises involves changing the sequence in which you perform the training exercises. By fatiguing the muscles in a new order or pattern, you are requiring them to adapt to a new training stimulus.
Keep in mind that doing the exact same workout, day after day is not necessarily a bad thing. Some people enjoy a predictable, consistent routine. They don't mind the possibility of experiencing a training plateau and are content to maintain their health and fitness levels with a comfortable exercise habit. However, many individuals need to push themselves to new levels and try different activities to stay enthusiastic and excited about their workouts. By varying their exercise routines, individuals can not only stay physically challenged, but mentally stimulated as well.
Cedric X. Bryant Contributor
As chief science officer for ACE, Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., FACSM, represents the organization as an international lecturer, writer and expert source. He has written more than 250 articles and columns for various publications, and he has written, co-written or edited 30 books. Dr. Bryant is an authoritative source on health and fitness for several media outlets including the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine, and CNN. He also currently serves on numerous advisory boards including the Institute of Medicine Obesity Solutions Roundtable, the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance Physical Activity Workgroup, and the Medical Fitness Association's Certification Committee.More Blogs by Cedric X. Bryant