Routine Eventually Means Boring
Whomever coined the phrase "fitness routine" didn't realize that they were
actually capturing the true essence of most people's exercise programs.
Routine, meaning having no special quality; ordinary, has no place in your
exercise program. When it comes to your fitness program, you want to
maximize the number of different types of exercises you are performing.
If your exercise program is going to prepare you for the greatest possible
number of real life scenarios, keep routine out of your workouts. Why is
exercise variety so important for maximum benefits?
Your Muscles Like Variety
Your muscles adapt very quickly to movement patterns and postures.
A variety of different exercises trains your muscles in different patterns
and sequences. Once your muscles have learned a particular movement
pattern, it is not enough just to lift more weight in that same muscle
sequence. This is because when lifting a child or box, playing a sport or
getting in and out of the car, you rarely make the exact repeated movement
twice in your life. In most of these examples, well trained movement patterns
are more important than pure strength. To be prepared for as many of these
infinite movements as possible, your fitness program should include lots of
Keeping Your Fitness From Being Routine
Here are three simple and effective suggestions to maximize exercise
benefits and keep your workout program from getting anything but routine.
Suggestion 1: Switch From Machines to Free Weights
Free weights offer a unique exercise opportunity to improve strength,
balance and coordination all at the same time. Take for example the seated
shoulder press. Try the same exercise but stand instead of sitting while you
perform the pressing motion. Standing makes more muscles work simultaneously;
as if you were putting something in a tall kitchen cabinet. Instead of just arm
and shoulder muscles working, now you have leg, core and balance muscles
strengthening as well. When you get really good, you can try one arm and
one leg to challenge your balance even more.
Suggestion 2: Challenge Your Balance Regularly
Including balance activities in your exercise program increases both the
mental and physical challenge of your workout. Balance is learned when you
are young and it can deteriorate if not practiced regularly. Especially as you
get older, good balance is something that only comes with practice. Your
ability to balance is reduced by prolonged sitting, weak leg muscles and poor
eyesight. Try adding exercises that you can perform on one leg and also
consider including fitness toys like the BOSU, foam half roll and balance boards.
These exercises are both fun and add a new dimension of physical and mental
Suggestion 3: Try Exercise Combinations
Exercise combinations are one of the best ways to add variety and reduce
your time spent exercising. Taking several exercises that would normally be
performed individually and do them simultaneously is a great physical
and mental challenge. For example, let's look at the squat, biceps curl and
shoulder press. You could do all three of these exercises separately or
combine them into one fluid movement. With arms at your side, start by
lowering yourself into a squat. Now as you come back to the starting
position, keep your knees bent and perform a biceps curl. At the top of the
curl, press both arms straight above your head. Just reverse the sequence
back to the starting position.
Try these simple suggestions and watch how much more mentally and
physically challenging your workouts can become. If you are not sure where
to start, talk to your personal trainer or fitness professional for suggestions