By K.Aleisha Fetters
Sticking to a routine is good—to a point.
Consistency is the name of the weight-loss game. So doing the same workout every day has to be a solid move, right?
Like with most things fitness and weight loss, that’s a hard “it depends.”
When you do the same workout every time you swipe your gym card, you take indecision out of the equation and your workouts become automatic, says trainer Brad Schoenfeld, a National Strength and Conditioning Association board of directors member. So wandering around the gym trying to figure out what you’re going to do that day (a huge waste of time!) becomes a non-issue.
Plus, if you’re performing the same workout day after day—whether that’s a cycling class, running, total-body circuit, or lifting routine—chances are you like it. And if you do, you’re more likely to be consistent with it. That’s a major win.
Still, there’s a fine line between a routine and a rut. “A woman can stick with the same routine or exercises, but to maximise results there must be a constant attempt to challenge the body beyond its present state,” Schoenfeld says. “This is the only way that the body continues to adapt.”
By cranking up the resistance on your stationary bike, scheduling an interval day into your running routine, performing a lift with a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell, or switching up your squat of choice, you force your body to adapt to something new. And that’s exactly what’s going to burn the most kilojoules and build the most lean muscle, which is clutch for weight loss.
Remember, your body is a master adapter. And as it gets accustomed to your five-day-per week kickboxing class, you’ll burn progressively fewer and fewer kilojoules in each class. You also won’t benefit from the same “after burn” you experienced when you were a newbie, as your body won’t have to work as hard to recover.
Meanwhile, if you’re into fitness for the long haul (which is important to keep the weight off) you can’t discount the value of cross-training for injury prevention, Schoenfeld says. Code for “doing something different than your main form of exercise,” cross-training reduces the risk of muscle imbalances and excessive joint stresses, both of which can contribute to overuse injuries.
Plus, a woman can only stick with one workout for so long before it becomes mind-numbingly boring, he says.
For all of the gym creatures of habit out there, relax. You don’t have to abandon your fave workout to get results.
Just remember the FITT principle—frequency, intensity, time, and type, Schoenfeld says. Change up one to two of these exercise factors every four to six weeks to give your body a new, adaptation-worthy challenge. If you’re into lifting, that could mean changing up your set and rest scheme, grip style, or weight used. If the elliptical is more your thing, you could change your speed, resistance, or introduce some intervals.
And, for the love of all things fitness, schedule a regular exercise play day (aim for once every week or two) into your workout routine. Use it to take a new class, try out some cool Instagram-worthy lifts, or enjoy some quality time with that whatever workout used to be your main jam.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com