Mixing up your workouts to maximize your benefits
It’s no secret that I love running. It certainly wasn’t always that way (see my “About Megan” story for more on the transition), but now running is a source of stress relief, pleasure, and personal challenge. When I first got into running, I pretty much just ran … and I also suffered through a few injuries, some mental burnout, and, after initial weight loss, wasn’t getting the results I wanted. It took me several years to realize that I could eliminate those three issues by adding in some cross-training and changing up the intensity of my exercise.
- Injuries: When I started running, I had chronic knee and IT band pain, and I believe this was because I wasn’t working any muscles besides my running muscles. Now, with a variety of exercises that strengthen my hips, core, and upper body, I suffer fewer injuries that prevent me from running.
- Mental burnout: As much as I love running, if that is my only form of exercise I can eventually get tired of it. Adding in some additional forms of exercise helps keep it interesting and stokes my passion for fitness.
- Results: Numerous studies have shown that your body does get “used to” an exercise if you do it repeatedly. For the first few months, you may experience weight loss and toning, but after a while, that 3-mile loop you run every morning will just become par for your body’s course and will not yield additional results. Even better, studies show that interval training revs the metabolism and is very effective in burning body fat, allowing you to see your hard work paying off more quickly.
These examples use my story with running, but the same applies to any exercise you may be doing. Spend 30 minutes on the elliptical every morning? Walk 2 miles after work every day? Swim or cycle the same pace and same distance? The effectiveness of any “routine” will eventually taper off, and you will get better results by incorporating interval training.
I love yoga classes, spinning classes, outdoor cycling, and interval training classes, but while I’m traveling for work, it isn’t always possible to get to the classes I love. So, I’ve made it a habit to incorporate a quick, 10-15 minute strength or interval session into my routine several days per week.
How do I include 4-5 interval training sessions and 2 slightly longer yoga sessions into my week? Simple! I’m always looking for quick, new, online routines to help me with this goal. Earlier today, I posted this on the Lyons’ Share Wellness Facebook page (“like” it on the right sidebar of this page to receive interesting content like this!):
This was just one example of a 10-minute routine that I used to incorporate interval training and a bit of strength work. Of course, I don’t always do this routine (this was my first time) … that would defeat the purpose and my body would get “used” to it! Other short workouts I’ve recently done and liked are: The Fitnessista’s 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 workout, a new 7-minute workout which has been getting a lot of press (go through it twice for a challenge!), and Daily Burn’s DB15 program, (providing a 15-minute workout for each of 15 days, with a lot of variety and great instructors. They offer a free month trial – plenty of time to get through the 15-day cycle twice, although I only did the cycle once myself). I also get a lot of short workouts from magazine tear-outs and other bloggers, and I’m happy to share if you’re interested.
I encourage you to mix up YOUR workout routine this week … either with some of these 10-15 minute workouts, or with some of your own. Just get your heart pumping, work HARD during those intervals, and enjoy the results! (Edited to add: if you do not already have a workout routine, I would recommend any of these as a way to get started slowly, but please do not consider this medical advice and consult with your doctor first.)
Tell me in the comments… do you mix up your workout routine regularly? Are you going to try any of these workouts? How did you do with the Fresh Start Challenge? Hope you’re continuing those great habits!