Americans tend to think that more of everything is better, don’t we? And there are some things I wouldn’t mind having more of. I’d love to have more time to do all the things I want to do. More nieces and nephews would always be great! More people in my circle of friends, more cats, and a little more chocolate in my diet would also be nice.
But when it comes to exercise, I’ve discovered that more may not always be better. Once I graduated from the elliptical exclusively, I added in a variety of group classes–Zumba, Bootcamp, Body Pump, Pilates. They were all good classes, good workouts, but as my fitness level increased, I began taking multiple classes consecutively, thinking that if I exercised more I could speed my weight loss. In April of 2014, I found myself spending about 3 hours a day at the gym; yet, my weight stubbornly refused to budge. I’d heard about plateaus. Holy cow, it was frustrating! I was exhausted. I physically could not add in any more exercise time. What was I going to do?
Desperate for some help, I signed up to work with a personal trainer at the gym. During the initial assessment, I told the trainer how much I’d been exercising, but that my weight was staying the same. He got this look of “Yeah, I’ve heard that a million times before”, and that’s when I learned about the General Adaptation Syndrome. Basically, the body adapts to the stress (in this case amount and type of exercise) placed on it. Because my workouts were predictable in both intensity and type of exercise, my body was not being challenged to increase it’s fitness. It could handle what I was throwing at it.
The trainer’s recommendation? Weight training. Throw in something new and different to challenge the body. I began working with the trainer for one session a week. He put me through some short, high intensity workouts (enter my curiosity about CrossFit) and mixed in some strength training. Slowly, I began to see the weight on the scale go down again. Unfortunately, my trainer moved to Switzerland (I know, right?!), but he put me on a path to reach my weight loss goals.
I’m not a personal trainer (yet…), so I don’t have the expertise to develop a training plan for you (yet…), but for me variety has been the key. A huge perk of being a part of a coached running group has been having the types of runs spelled out for me; I just have to do them. Some days I run hills. Other days I run speed intervals. Some runs are shorter in distance but faster. Saturday runs are generally slower in pace but longer in distance. Lots of variety. And that’s what I like about CrossFit. Every workout is different, so I’m always being challenged (more about CrossFit another time).
I’m sure there are lots of online workouts to follow. The only one I have experience with is IdealShape Up Challenge. You can check it out here.
I signed up for the challenge as I was recovering from ITBS last year. I found the workouts challenging, and the equipment needed was minimal and not that expensive. The challenge is free, and the workouts are fairly short and easy to do in a small space.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life, right? It keeps exercise interesting, if nothing else!
What is your exercise routine?
What do you find challenging about adding variety to your workouts?