Variety: Adding New Workouts to Your Current Plan

Sgt. Eric Goulet, legal chief, RCT- 6, from Plymouth, N.H. completing his daily workout. Most Marines work out five days a week to stay in shape (Photo By: Staff Sgt. Robert Strom).

Breaking out of a workout rut is no easy task. We’re creatures of habit and it’s all to easy to slip into complacency and stick with your tried-and-true standard workout.

Whether you are following a strict training program, train with a rigid program of the same workouts every week, or just do a few machines and calisthenics every other day, you may want to consider adding some variety to your daily plan.

If you are not following the direction of a personalized program made by a trainer who knows you, you should consider the following discussion below.

Are You A Rule Follower? Be Open To New Ideas

The one important thing you should remember as a program follower, is that no program you find in an article online, in a fitness magazine, or a book, is personally designed for you.  The rule follower can get into injury trouble or not be challenged enough depending on his/her starting fitness level when starting a program.

If you start program and follow it to the letter even though it is not specifically created for you, you may be doing too much, too soon, or it could be not enough work for you. So, you have to get creative and know how to make changes to generic workout programs even if the goal of the program is created with the same end result you seek. Usually that means adjusting sets and reps or mileage especially if higher mileage of running is required in the first weeks. You may need to reduce the miles, repetitions, number of sets, or increase the rest periods to fit your fitness level.  You can still follow the program, just adjust the volume knob to more or less depending upon your goals, current fitness level, and general abilities.

You may also have to adjust for equipment that you do not have.  For instance, if you cannot do pullups yet or do not have a pullup bar, you may want to replace that exercise with pulldowns or some other pulling activity like dumbbell rows or bicep curls that engage similar muscle groups. The rule follower has to be flexible enough to not feel like you failed if you do not do the workout exactly as written.  Your success with the workout is being able to do MOST of it.  IF you spent an hour moving more than you normally do, doing most of the exercises, even though you had to dial a few down a notch, you still will get a great workout that will yield results.  Just keep moving but stay open to change when needed.

Are You A Repeater?

Many people who begin an exercise program, find a plan that works for them and stay with it – FOREVER. Every week, it is the same thing – week after week.  Not only does this exercise follower get bored with the program (eventually), the results you may have found in the first few months of the program have stalled to a halt.  Eventually, the same old program will become just a maintenance plan. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, if that is your goal and you like the same thing over and over. But, if you are seeking to grow muscle mass, get leaner, run faster, or increase any performance physically, you may want to change things up a bit.  You can do this by increasing weight, repetitions, faster cardio, longer cardio sessions, or decreasing rest periods. But to really spice things up, you may need to add in a new week of training every month.  You can always go back to your favorite week of workouts, but once a month or every other week, make the change to new ideas in the weight room, calisthenics organization, or cardio workouts.  Here are many ideas:

Ten Favorite Workouts (Go-To Plans)

A Variety of Cardio Workout

Running Workouts for Fitness Tests

Are You A Weight Room Roamer?

Do you go to the gym regularly, but never follow a real plan?  Maybe you spend 20-30 minutes on the cardio machines and then do a variety of machines in circuit order depending on what is available? If you are the gym roamer who just look at doing something, that is great that you are making a move.  But if you want more days (than not) of good solid workouts, you may want to be more of a Rule Follower as mentioned above.  Getting on a program, will give you a sense of direction and you may find the adjustments you have to make refreshing to your roaming habits in training.  Some ideas for you would be take one day and do all upper body exercises.  One day do all leg and core exercises.  This two day split routine can be followed by any cardio option you prefer for 20-30 minutes.  Creating a circuit routine in that way, may give you a new found purpose and direction when going to the gym.  And you may find better results as well.

Some options are to get a second or third program type or a book of ala carte workouts that you can use to supplement into a weekly program if you lack the necessary equipment, or time, or abilities.  As long as the supplemental workout is working the same muscle groups, you may find a calisthenics version that fits your day in place of a gym workout when the gym is closed for example.

Remember this when it comes to being open to trying new things: 

The best workout maybe the one you are missing!

Stew Smith works as a presenter / editorial board with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).  There are also over 800 articles onMilitary.com Fitness Forum focusing on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

Latest Fitness Books:  Navy SEAL Weight Training and Tactical Fitness

 

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