Muscles have memory. It’s a simple fact. If you have been following the same fitness routine, the same fitness class, the same running style … your muscles will adapt. They are smart! They have their own little brain; and to keep them on their toes, you have to trick them every so often.
How do you know when it is time to switch it up? If you are consistently working out, have surpassed a beginner/novice level of exercise, then variation is needed every 2 to 4 weeks. Still unsure? If you have hit a plateau and have not seen any change in your body or the way your clothes fit, then it is time for a change.
This does not mean you have to give up the exercise you love. It means you need to change something within it. If you do a strength training class, grab a heavier set of weights than normal. If you go for steady state runs, add some speed intervals into it. If you only do one type of class, consider trying a new type of fitness class in the week.
Every workout does not have to be killer. However, sometimes I find when I change up the workout style for my clients they feel like a beginner again. They are huffing and puffing, and express their concern they are going backwards. I tell them, ‘Congratulations! You are no longer a novice! I am able to push you harder than in the beginning. You are well on your way to improving your health and body, and reaching your goals!’ Then eventually that workout, the one that felt more challenging, becomes easy. So we step it up again!
In the training world there are different ways to work our muscles. In the beginning it’s muscular endurance, designed to build up your stamina for the weights. Then we move into muscular hypertrophy; building up the size of your muscles to achieve a nice shape (and by build I do not mean body building!). Depending on your individual goals we can work on muscular power or muscular strength. How many of you just did Mudderella? Well, some of those obstacles required upper body strength, and others required power in your legs to jump. So leading up to the event, you would focus your training on those areas.
My latest goal is to add one or two yoga classes per week into my routine. It changes the way my muscles have to work when compared to weight training and running; and it works on lengthening and stretching my muscles to reduce the chance of injury when I put my body to the test.
To achieve goals and to maintain our body’s physique, we need to keep switching it up. It is not only important for training, it is a great workout for the mind too.