It’s easy to end up doing the same workout on repeat – but can repeating the same the exercises every session hinder your fitness progress?
Never has an exercise rut been so easy to fall into. Whether it’s turning on the same yoga video on YouTube every morning, doing the same three leg exercises over and over again or running the same daily route, at the same pace, twice a week.
It’s probably why 41% of people are struggling to find motivation this lockdown, according to research by the team behind the Huawei Watch GT2 Pro. They found that mixing up your workout routine can increase motivation by 40% – that’s a huge boost we could all do with right now.
However, the phrase that’s often bandied around on social media is “random workouts make random results”, and it’s true that if you want to increase your 5k time you will need to run often. Equally, if you want to lift more in your squat, you’ll need to get under the bar and keeping trying. So should we be doing a different workout each time we train or keep up the same session until we reach our goals?
“It depends what your reason for exercising is,” says Kerry Dixon from The Athlete Method. “Are you doing it because you enjoy moving or because you are trying to see results - whether that’s gaining muscle or getting faster?”.
If you have found a HIIT workout that you know can get you out of bed three times a week, or a walking route that makes you feel joyous, why change it? “If it makes you feel good and gives you more energy, that’s great. But there is the risk that you will plateau or not meet your training goals because it will become too easy,” says Kerry.
So if you are in need of a motivational boost or want to progress, you really do need to think about how often you do the same workouts. Here are three reasons why…
You need time to recover
The biggest point here is that you shouldn’t be doing any workout every single day. “Doing the same style of training most days is probably OK. For example, you can strength train or do yoga most days, but working the same muscle groups or doing the same exercises won’t give your body time to recover,” says Kerry.
You can still have too much of a good thing, even if you aren’t squatting seven days a week. So many injuries are caused by overuse, so try not to do too many of the same workouts a week.
You need to challenge the body
“The body needs to be challenged to adapt,” says Kerry. When things start to feel a little easy, you need to take it up a notch, whether that’s adding some extra reps into your strength routine or running an extra kilometer.
This is called progressive overload – gradually increasing the stress that the body is under so that it keeps adapting. “This needs to be done in a smart way, so it’s not rushed,” says Kerry.
As limited kit means we can’t all add extra plates on to the barbell right now, there are also ways to challenge the body without adding extra weight. For example, try switching up your exercises, such as turning those trusty lunges into split squats to add depth to the move.
You need to train different disciplines
Getting better at running means running, of course. But as Kerry, an ex-professional sprinter knows, you need to work on the supporting disciplines too. “Not only do runners run, but they weight and strength train as well in order to make sure they have the power in their legs. Programmes will also vary the distance each day and play around with pace and speed. They won’t have someone running the same 5k every single day. It’s about complementing your sport by developing different skills,” she says.
The answer is to make sure that you do the workouts you love, but also ensuring that you have enough variety to challenge your body. Next time you do a lower body workout, ask yourself if you can swap your three go-to moves for something slightly different or if you can squeeze some extra reps out? You’ll be surprised at how effective it is.
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Images: Pexels / Getty
Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).
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