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Variety Is the Spice of Life & Fitness

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Variety Is the Spice of Life & Fitness

One way to alleviate workout boredom is to perform a variety of exercises. Women, begin by changing up your strength training routine!

Hippocrates once said, “That which is used develops. That which is not used wastes away.” Translated to 21st-century speak: “If you don’t move it, you’ll lose it.”

Both quotes are relevant and fitting when it comes to the human body and, more specifically, our musculoskeletal system. 

How is muscle built?

Most people believe that it is when they are exercising that their muscles are building and getting stronger, but technically it is after the workout that
the construction party begins at a cellular level.

While we’re performing our favourite bicep curl exercise, we are creating small microscopic tears in the tissue. It is only when we are finished our strength training session and resting that the cells go about repairing these tears, this time making the damaged fibres stronger. Stronger fibres equal bigger and more physically powerful muscles.

Can’t I do the same exercise every week?

Once you start your strength training routine, it will only take the musculoskeletal system about two months to adapt. Once that adaptation has occurred (and if you continue with that same exercise program), you will eventually encounter an exercise plateau. You are now maintaining instead of developing.

What’s the answer?

Variety! Variety is so important to any fitness program, whether it is strength training, running, swimming, or an exercise class. You need to keep the muscles confused and the mind stimulated.

Here are some tips to keep your program fresh and interesting.

Add a balance tool
Bring a new challenge to your workout. Instead of squatting on the ground, try it on top of a BOSU, or instead of using a bench for your chest presses, walk out on a stability ball.

Increase the weight
Incrementally increase the weight you lift every one or two weeks by 10 percent. This will constantly stress the muscles and bones, without leaving you sore the next day.

Work out to music
Studies have proven that music will enhance your exercise performance as well as improve your adherence to the program.

Play your cards right
Instead of pumping out the same 12 to 15 repetitions, bring a deck of cards with you to the gym and flip the top card up. Whatever the card reads, apply that number, plus 10, and perform. For example, an ace is one plus 10 making it 11 reps; face cards are 10 plus another 10, meaning you perform 20 reps. No matter what the cards say, be sure to
only perform as many reps as you can handle safely.

Hire a personal trainer
I never give my clients the same workout twice. I am constantly mixing it up so that they can learn new exercises that they can take with them.

Perform a circuit workout
Choose 10 exercises and perform them back to back for 60 seconds each exercise. Since you aren’t resting in between, alternate exercises that work different body parts to avoid overstraining muscles (for example, alternate push-ups, which focus on the upper body, with squats, which work the lower body).

Switch sides
Train the left and right sides of your body separately to develop muscle balance and symmetry. Some examples: perform a seated row one arm at a time using a D-handle, chest press a dumbbell one arm at a time, or squat one leg at a time.

Women and strength training—at any age

AgeFrequencyRoutineAreas to target
teens2-3 times a week working at 50-60% of your repetition maximum*

begin with easy movement patterns to create body awareness

core; postural muscles
twenties2-4 times a week at 60-75% of your repetition maximum*begin with a circuit workout to include the cardio in the strength programglutes; postural muscles; core
thirties

3-4 times a week at 60-90% of your repetition maximum*

try a split routine, training upper body one day and lower the following

core; upper body (especially the pectoral muscles)
forties

2-3 times a week at 60-90% of your repetition maximum*

incorporate balance tools with your strength routine

core; upper body strength
fifties and beyond2 times a week at 50-75% of your repetition maximum*women in this age bracket tend to see more success when working with a trainer or attending group classes geared for their age groupbalance; posture; core; shoulders

*Calculating your repetition maximum: take the amount of weight you can lift once after warming up, and multiply that by 50 to 60 percent.

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