Why you should change up your workout routine

By The Health News Team | November 7, 2023
Two friends exercising outdoors together

Many of us do the same regular fitness workout, sticking with what we know — and what is comfortable.

“While consistency and routine are important to any fitness program,” says Stewart Sanders, a physical therapist and the director of Sharp Rees-Stealy’s Running Clinic, “mixing up your workout can provide additional benefits to your mind and body.”

Reduce risk of injury

According to Stewart, it’s OK to do the same workout routine daily if the intensity is not too extreme. Frequency can be a good thing if it’s done safely.

However, varying your workouts can decrease overuse and optimize physical benefits. By mixing up your activities, Stewart says, you give your muscles and joints a chance to rest and recover before working them again.

For example, you can run every other day and support the activity by strength training on the off days. Your muscles used for running will rest, while strength training will support joint health and the ability to withstand the repetitive stress from running.  

Break through a weight-loss plateau

If you’ve settled into your fitness routine, you’ll probably notice you’re not making as much progress in improved fitness as you used to. Our bodies adapt to repetition with greater efficiency.

When you vary your workout routine, you use different muscle groups. This introduces a new challenge to specific muscles and allows groups of muscles to work together differently. Muscles require energy and can help you burn more calories.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) can be beneficial because it takes advantage of quick spikes in heart rate that trigger the body's ability to maintain that calorie burn for an extended period of time. HIIT workouts can come in various forms and can include upper body or lower body activities, such as burpees, hiking, hill sprints and rowing.

A varied workout schedule that balances strength and cardio may look like:

Monday: Run
Tuesday:
Strength train and swim
Wednesday:
Run
Thursday:
Strength train and swim
Friday:
Run
Saturday:
Strength train and swim
Sunday:
Rest

Stay motivated

Changing your workout routine challenges your mind, Stewart says. It keeps your body guessing and prevents boredom. Incorporating new exercises can also keep you motivated.

Stewart suggests instead of moving through the same workout routine you’ve been doing for months, try adding new movements and activities, or try different equipment at the gym. Often, the change can be refreshing and rewarding.

“For general fitness, try to choose a mode of exercise that you enjoy and will allow you to maintain a regular fitness routine,” says Sanders. “Also, consider including friends and support as part of your plan to make your effort more enjoyable.”

You should take a well-rounded approach to your fitness goals, Stewart adds. And remember to include good nutrition and adequate rest.

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