You know that exercise is good for you, but if you have a regular exercise routine you may be limiting your fitness gains. With everyone saying how important it is to exercise religiously, why wouldn’t you want to have a regular exercise routine? Being dedicated and motivated enough to commit yourself to daily exercise is commendable, but if you do the same workout, in the same way, at the same time every day, your body is going to adapt – and when it adapts you’re going to stop seeing results. You’ll stop building strength, endurance, and muscle tone; and if you’re trying to lose weight, you could hit the dreaded plateau that’s the cause of so much frustration and loss of motivation.
Why does a regular exercise routine eventually stop producing results? When the body is exercised for the first time, it rises to the challenge by working harder. Breathing becomes rapid and the heart beats faster to carry oxygenated blood to the hard working muscles. At the same time, hormones such as epinephrine, growth hormone, thyroid hormone, and cortisol are released into the bloodstream to help mobilize energy stores.
Over time when the same exercise routine is repeated, the body gradually becomes more efficient. It usually takes about three to four weeks for this adaptation process to occur. When it does, the body is able to do the same amount of work it did previously with less energy. This results in less fat breakdown and fewer calories burned. It can be discouraging to find that even though you’re eating less and exercising religiously, the needle on the scale won’t budge. The typical response is to eat even less which can send the body into starvation mode.
How can you avoid the pitfalls of a regular exercise routine and continue to see gains? The solution lies in mixing up your routine. If you walk every day, throw in some hills and vary the pace. Add short periods of jogging, alternated with longer periods of walking. Alternate walking with a more intense exercise such as jumping rope or climbing stairs. Interval training is one of the best ways to burn more calories and keep your body guessing. Try alternating a lower intensity exercise such as walking with brief periods of high intensity movement such as running at top speed for a minute or two. With interval training you can get better results while spending less time exercising.
Another way to keep your body from adapting to a regular exercise routine is to alternate resistance training with aerobic exercise. After doing an aerobic exercise for five minutes, do a few minutes of resistance exercises. Continue to alternate back and forth until you’ve completed a thirty minute workout.
Another way to prevent adaptation is to workout at different times of the day or do a completely different routine every time you exercise. One strategy is to get a variety of exercise DVD’s and do a different one every morning or go to a different exercise class at the gym every afternoon. The key is to vary the activity and the intensity on a regular basis. In this way, your body never has a chance to adapt and become more efficient. The other advantage is you’ll be less likely to become bored.
The bottom line? If you don’t feel like you’re making progress doing your regular exercise routine, mix it up and change the intensity. It’s the best way to get make sure you continue to see results.