Why It’s Important to Switch up Your Workouts
By Dr. Molly Casey
Exercise is something we should all be doing on a regular basis. I often have the conversation with my patients about the time for exercise, along with the amount and type. Folks these days just don’t get enough. At the other end of the spectrum is over-exercising; in the middle is monotony in the routine of exercising -- doing the same thing for too darn long. It is important to switch things up; below are some reasons to cycle your workouts.
Work New Muscles
The same workouts use the same muscles. The same load on the same muscles in the same way over and over will ultimately max results at some point. Keeping the same workouts for long periods of time doesn’t incorporate activation of new muscles. Just the act of a different exercise that utilizes the same muscles requires the muscles work in different ways -- and that can add to your results! Using different muscle groups assists in the function and health of the overall body. New stimulation will perk up the body in new ways, so doing this will advance your health. Also using or activating surrounding and supportive musculature can help the growth and health of the actual muscles you intend to grow or strengthen.
Break Through Plateaus
The body finds the most efficient way to burn the fewest calories, to expend the least effort for the greatest results. When the body is continually asked to do the same work time and again, it will ultimately plateau. This may be seen in the results from your workouts, meaning there’s less muscle growth or a stop in the weight reduction. Switching up your workouts prevents the body from getting stagnant in its performance level, thereby allowing you to break through the flat lines -- the plateaus -- that are often experienced. The physical flatline is often accompanied by a mental and emotional drive that has also plateaued; when you break the plateau physically, it typically provides a mental and emotional spike. This mental and emotional uplift cannot be understated in the process of movement forward.
Prevent Overuse Injury
Among the most common instigators with musculoskeletal issues are overuse injuries because, when workouts aren’t cycled, people are using the same muscles in the same ways over and over and over. This can be seen with repetitive use behaviors in regard to texting, at the computer, playing video games, or at the gym. Although these injuries typically coincide with some level of improper form, the bottom line is that the same muscles are doing the same work. So changing up your workouts automatically calls on new muscles, or using the same muscles in different ways, thus minimizing the overuse injuries.
Increase Brain Health
New skills require the brain to fire in new ways. When your workouts remain the same, your brain knows automatically and follows the same neural pathway firing pattern. To keep the brain healthy and active, you consistently want to be creating new neural pathways so that it’s alive and healthy. One way to do this is to ask it to perform new physical tasks, such as new exercises. The brain has to concentrate and focus more intently and learn to build new pathways, thus new exercises support health and youth of the brain.
Last but not least, switching up workouts adds some spice to the routine. It’s easy to fall prey to the same old same old. It’s easy to make the things you’re used to doing happen and call it a day. What about the excitement of new things? What about not fighting the monotony? Well, switching up your routine calls for newness that can help immensely in the boredom arena. The other cool part is that, if you choose a cycle of maybe 8-12 weeks, it is easier to work in more challenging cycles because you know the beginning and end dates. You’ll always know where the light at the end of the tunnel is. You’ll find things tolerable because a deadline will help prevent things from seeming too overwhelming.
Your workout cycles need life and spice just like anything else. Health requires movement. Providing new movement and new activities facilitate new health and life. Switch it up. Cycle your exercise workout.
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