Exercise progression

Make The Most Out of your Exercise Routine!

Whether you’re just starting exercise or a seasoned “GYM RAT” there is a natural progression to your exercise routine.

Have you ever felt that the energy and exertion expended at the gym did not yield the expected results? Do you exercise faithfully and never seem to see any changes in your strength, stamina or figure. Do you feel like you should see faster results? If so, you’re not alone.

So what’s the missing piece of the puzzle? Variety!

I have had many clients ask, "Is it really so bad to do the same workouts all the time?" Frequently they state that they like their workouts, and have no desire to change. They have established a good routine. My question to them is: "You may not want to change your workouts, but do you want to change your body?" The typical answer to that question is "Duh! Do you think I come here because I like being tortured?" It is here that I explain the principle of adaptation.

Adaptation means that lifting the same weights for the same exercises every week will keep your body in the same place. Our bodies become more and more efficient at activities that we do routinely. This means that we will start to burn less calories than we initially did if we are doing the same thing over and over, even if the routine is intense. So the real question to ask yourself is do you want to move forward or stay where you are at? It doesn’t really matter what you choose because, the answer is the same. Variety really is best for both. Variety keeps workouts from becoming boring, improves coordination, and even helps to prevent repetitive injuries.

The good news for any of us who aren't crazy about change, is that progressing can come in a variety of ways: Changing your weight, repetitions, intensity, speed, duration, exercises and more. And you only have to choose one change to make a difference, although more is often better.

The bottom line is, once you master something, you need to do something to make it harder and one of the easiest ways to do this is to try new variations of traditional exercises. Some basic ways to change what you're doing are:

· Change your position. Look for ways you can change your position to make moves a bit different. If you usually do regular squats, try taking the feet wide and the toes out in a wide squat to fire different muscle fibers. Change your chest press by going to an incline or change your arm position during pushups and try a staggered position.

· Change the type of resistance. If you gravitate to machines, try free weights or the cable machines. If you always do free weights, try some of your exercises on machines. Movements will always feel different when you change the resistance. Resistance bands offer a variety of ways to work your muscles in a different way. Take your usual chest press and move it to a standing position with a band chest press. Take a boring dumbbell fly and turn it into a rotating fly with a band.

· Go from two legs/arms to one leg/arm. One of the most interesting ways to change exercises is to use only one arm or one leg at a time. This makes almost any lower body move more intense – One legged squats are much harder than regular squats and one legged deadlift challenge the standing leg in a whole new way. Even upper body moves get more challenging when you switch to one arm at a time as in one-armed chest fly.

· Add a balance challenge. Going unilateral, as mentioned above, can make balancing more of a challenge but, even more challenging, is using something like a ball, foam roller, or inflatable disc.

· Do more compound movements. Doing two exercises at once can save time and add a new dimension to your workouts. Not only will you save time, but compound exercises are actually a form of metabolic conditioning, allowing you to burn more calories and get more out of your exercise time.

No matter your exercise goals, it is always wise to ask for help and guidance from trainers, especially if you are just getting back into the gym. They will help tailor work outs to your goals, make sure you are using proper form to prevent injuries, and push you further than you would push yourself. Remember, support and accountability are paramount when making life altering changes.