April 15, 2021
As we get closer to the summer and the weather gets warmer it is so easy for me to go for a run outside every day. I love the fresh air and actually feel guilty when I don't take advantage of the beautiful weather.
While this isn't necessarily bad for myself, I am doing a disservice to my joints and muscles as I start slacking on my strength training workouts and yoga practice. I have to actively remind myself that while a run outside would feel great, constantly mixing up my workouts is vital to keeping my body fresh, strong and injury free.
A lot of us have our favorite type of workout, one that comes easily and doesn't require too much thought or effort. Obviously, some runs for me are harder than others. Depending on the day, I will push my body to run faster, but that comes easy to me. Whereas when I take a yoga class, I need to change my mindset and think about the different positions and poses. Because of this, sometimes I choose to take the easy way out and go for a quick run because, as I said, it's just in my comfort zone. That doesn't mean it's the right thing to do though.
It is important to mix up your workouts for a multitude of reasons. Think about food. Sure, we all have our favorite meals. Between you and me, I could easily eat sushi and pasta for most of my days and be happy, but that's not healthy. The same goes for exercise.
Different methods of exercise have different benefits, the same way broccoli and salmon are both super healthy foods, but each come with their own nutritional values and benefits. All forms of exercise are great and definitely better than doing nothing. While you may favor some over others, it is important to have variety and change it up.
One of the most obvious reasons for changing up your workouts is because doing the same thing repeatedly gets repetitive and boring. It is tough enough as is to motivate yourself to work out, but when you are always doing the same thing, you won't be as excited to get started.
For me, this is when group classes come into play. The majority of my workouts are done on my own. Whether I'm running outside or training in the gym, I'm alone. Every now and then I like to add in a group class; for the past year I have taken those classes virtually, but I still feel that social aspect. These classes are fun and take me outside of my comfort zone, but always give me a great sweat. I tried a dance fitness class with some friends and while I have never felt more uncoordinated in my life, I left the class smiling, sweaty and — this last part came as a surprise to me — my muscles were actually tired.
Plateau is a word you don’t want to hear when it comes to your workouts. When you do the same thing for every workout, your muscles start to get used to the tension you are putting them under and won't reap the benefits successfully. By adding in different workouts and forms of exercises, you are ensuring that every workout is effective.
Take squats as an example. If you do 30 bodyweight squats every day, you will still be burning calories and giving your legs a bit of a workout, but they will become easy and you will stop seeing results. You can push yourself by changing up the types of squats you are doing, the amount of reps and sets, and add some weights. By mixing up your squats you are continually testing yourself and keeping your muscles on edge.
The most important reason to mix up your workouts is to give your body time to recover. Running every day is extremely tough on your joints, so by adding in strength training, Pilates or yoga, you are giving your body time to rest from the high impact cardio and allowing other muscles to train. Furthermore, your muscles are a team and work together to keep your body moving without injury. Runners who only focus on running will typically feel knee pain. However, when they add cross training into their routines, they are strengthening their muscles. That will therefore prevent injury during a run. Adding in a Pilates or yoga class once or twice a week will give the muscles most used during running a break and a chance to heal from the pounding. They'll have a chance to grow stronger too.
When planning your workouts, focus on channeling both high-intensity and low-intensity workouts into your plan. Your low-intensity days will be great for muscle recovery and provide a great workout that focuses on different muscles and goals. If you only do intense workouts that work the same muscles, you will burn out and overtrain. Our goal should be health and longevity. So do yourself a favor and switch it up, your body and mind will thank you later.
Next time you're thinking about doing the same old workout, try this one out instead!
Gabby Drucker owns Drucker Fitness, a Philadelphia-based personal training studio and online training business. She is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Pre and Postnatal Certified Trainer. Follow her on Instagram at @druckerfitness or visit druckerfitness.com.