Switching up your exercise routine for maximum efficacy is one of those fitness rules you hear workout warriors talk about. But how do you actually do it? And do you need to completely overhaul modalities—i.e. go from barre to HIIT for it to be effective?
The good news for anyone who can’t imagine swapping out their preferred form of sweat sesh is that you don’t have to—although cross-training can make you a better athlete, fyi.
Essentially, all workout programs can be broken down by the FIIT principle: the Frequency of how often you exercise, the Intensity of your exercise, the amount of Time you exercise for, and the Type of exercise you do. To shake up your workout, just address one of these features.
“You can mix it up by changing the tempo of the exercises, increasing weight, adding reps, or alternating between working slow and fast to twitch muscle fibers,” says Katie Jo Zayon, master trainer at Burn 60. And if your workouts always happen in a group class, switching studios may even do the trick.
The reason you want to do so, according to Dara Theodore, head of fitness at ClassPass (a woman that knows a lot about having virtually every type of workout at your fingertips), is that your body adapts to the exercise you’re doing and therefore you need to keep your legs and limbs guessing. “As you become stronger, you need to change your fitness regimen to accommodate these adaptations,” she says.
Bottom line: If you’re going through your workout on autopilot, it’s time for you to try something new. And pro tip: If you feel sore after your workout upgrade—which is likely and a good thing—reach for a banana instead of an ibuprofen.
Enhance your workout even more: Here’s the 411 on eating before exercising and the exact amount of water you need to drink post sweat sesh.
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