Variety is the spice of life. And workouts.

Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

Keep your body guessing and your mind refreshed by mixing up your workouts

It’s Tuesday. That means it’s 5km run day, squats day, Pilates class day…the same old day. Yawn.

You notice you’re not itching to get into your exercise like you used to. You’ve also plateaued with no gains in strength / speed / power. Lifting the same weight for weeks, swimming the same lengths of the pool. Maybe even speaking to the same people at the gym-surely you’re running out of things to talk about by now.

This mightn’t be a big deal and if you’re a creature of habit you may be loathe to change.

However…

Varying your workouts can bring some massive benefits. These include:

  • Keeping you mentally fresh and motivated towards exercising
  • Avoiding the risk of injury or strain through repetitive exercise programs
  • Developing and strengthening neglected muscles that haven’t been targeted of late

Here are some of the ways that you can spice things up.

Same bodypart, different exercises

This sounds obvious but you’d be amazed at how many people choose certain exercises and rigidly stick with them.

Whether it’s because they like the particular exercise or they just feel they should be doing that exercise, change is out of the question!

It doesn’t have to be dramatic but you could throw in some new exercises on alternating weeks to see how it goes.

For example in the gym replace traditional barbell squats with front squats. Outrageous! You’ll notice your core muscles being seriously activated as they scream, Hey hey, what’s all this sudden work all about? Your thighs will also get a helluva burn.

For that matter there are plenty of other squat variations. Squat from a chair or bench to build explosive power. Squat with a medicine ball over your head to really test your thighs and core.

Try bent rows with dumbbells instead of barbells, shoulder presses with kettlebells.

Swap bench presses for overhead presses or vice versa. You’re still working the shoulders and they’ll thank you (possibly) for the different angle.

Do more reps per set with shorter breaks for a cardio wake up call. Conversely, test your strength by going for lower reps with heavier weight.

Eyes up, motivation up

If you’re running, cycling or walking throw in some hills for a shorter, more explosive session. For example if you usually run 10km around a familiar course at a park, find somewhere with some hills. Shorten the distance but assign half of the time to hill attacks.

Your legs won’t know what hit them and you’ll get a tremendous cardio boost.

Short, sweet and sweaty

Can’t find a hill? No worries. Try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts- alternating moderately-paced activity with regular short bursts of more intense work.

This works equally well with running, cycling, walking and swimming. It’s up to you as to how you break up the intervals but a good starting point might be:

Exercise moderately for 3 minutes, go hard for 30 seconds then back to moderate pace for 3 minutes and so on. The fitter you become, the longer the intense intervals can become.

These workouts are great because not only do they improve your cardio strength but because you’re focusing on the intervals the time will fly by.

Work out with a friend. Or bitter rival.

Most people exercise alone as it’s just easier – we know what we want to do and when we want to finish. That said, exercising with a buddy can bring some unexpected benefits.

Of course there’s the camaraderie (but not too much chit chat) and the chance to motivate each other. Plus, lying deep, deep down amongst us is a ferocious, competitive monster just dying to be unleashed. We might not care to admit it and may even deny it but people naturally lift their game when exercising with someone else.

Forcing a smile at your friend’s witty banter, all the while thinking “He’s already wheezing – pathetic!”

Imagine the results if you were to exercise with someone you can’t stand. Olympic-level performances guaranteed.

All stations till exhaustion

Set up a circuit of varying stations to really liven things up. You can do this in the gym, at home or outside – your imagination is the limit. If it’s in a gym be mindful of others possibly wanting to use the same equipment, selfish of them as it seems.

The sky’s the limit to creating circuits. You can do strength-based where you might do dumbbell lunges then move on to bent rows to overhead kettlebell presses and so on. This gives you a top notch full body workout.

You can really mix it up with each station having either a strength, cardio or agility exercise. From dips to burpees to an agility ladder.

Anywhere from 6 to 12 stations is good and you can decide how long you rest between stations. Longer for more power, shorter for endurance.

By throwing in a different workout once a week or even once a fortnight you’ll reap some outstanding mental and physical benefits.

Get creative and fall in love with exercise again.

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