Leave it to Albert Einstein to come up with yet another catchy idea: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I have no idea whether he was a fitness buff, but the scientific genius could have been talking about exercise. Whether you’re a fitness newbie or fanatic like me, sometimes we all need a little motivation and a good kick in the you-know-what to take things up a notch. There are three reasons why spring is the perfect time to change your routine:
- Avoid a Plateau: If you run at the same speed on the treadmill everyday for 20 minutes, your body will eventually hit a plateau. You’ll still burn calories, but you’ll need to increase your resistance levels or speed if you want to help boost your metabolism and maximize results. This is the same reason personal trainers push clients to increase reps with each workout. As your strength and endurance grows, so should your workout.
- Avoid Over-Training: Doing the same workout day after day doesn’t allow muscle groups time to rest and recover and ultimately grow. This not only diminishes returns on your hard work, but it also puts you at increased risk for injury. This is why I try to hit cardio and core hard on Mondays and Wednesdays and focus on strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I continue to mix things up over the weekend, and I’m always sure to take a minimum of one if not two days off each week.
- Avoid Burnout: If you get bored with your fitness routine, you’re likely to stop putting 100% into your work. If you stop seeing results, you may give up on your fitness goals altogether. Trying new group exercise classes and weight training circuits can keep things fresh.
The good news is there are simple ways to add a little variety, and perhaps some extra sweat, to your typical routine:
1) Start jumping rope: Not only does this fun activity make me feel like a kid again, but you can burn up to 20 calories per minute jumping rope. Also, you can do it just about anywhere. All you need is a jump rope! Even walkers can incorporate jumping rope into their routine and take things to the next leve. Try this combo: walk at your top speed for 5 minutes, then jump rope for 1 minute, keep switching between walking and jumping rope and work your way up to a total of 30 minutes. Ideally, try to work up to three walking/jumping sessions three times a week for two weeks.
2) Tweak the traditional push-up: Place your feet on a six- to eight-inch high step as you get in plank position and perform a push-up as you normally would. Be sure to draw in your navel and squeeze the glutes through all your reps. Adding the step creates more work for your shoulders along with the chest.
3) Get a new playlist: I can always count on heart-pounding beats to keep me moving! If you need some new tunes, I recently started following DJ Al Roccone on Twitter. He’s got great fitness mixes you can download for free. Check out his latest here:
4) Blow Your Mind: If you want to see what true strength and determination look like, check out this amazing video I found on the Fitness Girls Facebook page.
I may not be able to bang out half of exercises in that video, but I like seeing such challenging variations to body-weight exercises. It just goes to show sometimes all you need is your body and some floor space to get to work! Let me know how you take things up a notch this spring as part of the never-ending quest to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!