Fitness Tips

This Trainer-Approved Trick Is Key for Maxing Out the Benefits of Any Workout

Photo: Getty Images/kovaciclea
This January, it’s time to take it easy and hone in on healthy habits that you can live with for an entire trip around the sun—and beyond. We’ve enlisted the help of industry experts to put together three four-week plans designed to help you move your body, eat more sustainably, or show yourself some loving care. Pick a plan—or three—and hit refresh. Get the Program

Let's face it: When it comes to workouts, most of us are serial first-daters. You try that new viral TikTok treadmill workout or AMRAP workout, then move on to greener pastures (er, other viral workouts). But one thing that we learned from Well+Good Renew Year Movement trainer, Tara Nicolas, is that there are numerous reasons why you should repeat workouts for your body and mind.

In her month-long workout plan (which you can access for free right here, by the way), Nicolas showed us that going back for seconds on the same exercise routine allows you to achieve a level of comfort and familiarity in that movement pattern that's multi-beneficial. In other words, completing a workout twice over—or more—will help you nail your form. "The first time you do a workout, you're just trying to understand what's being asked of you," said Nicolas. "When you repeat it, you get to feel more confident because of muscle memory. By this point, you and the workout will basically be old friends, so see if you can focus on your form and take a moment to congratulate yourself for learning something new."

If the term "muscle memory" is new to your workout vocab, it refers to the fact that your brain and muscles are in constant communication. The more you try a movement, the more your brain will commit that movement to memory. "Neural pathways move from the brain through the spinal cord and out into your arms and legs. Your muscles learn how to coordinate tasks better over time so that it almost becomes subconscious," David Geier, DO, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, previously told Well+Good. "You're going to make a pretty rapid improvement at first—not just from your muscles getting bigger, but because you have neurons going to those muscles to learn a new movement, and the process allows your body to adapt to this new stress." Cool, right?

This type of thinking is also why you'll see people sticking with the same strength training splits for six to eight weeks at a time before switching things up: It gives your body a chance to get to know the movement patterns. And as time goes by, you'll naturally start to notice that you can up the weight and/or reps, which is so satisfying.

"The first time you do a workout, you’re just trying to understand what’s being asked of you." - Tara Nicolas

While, yes, this increased confidence and familiarity with a workout bodes well for your physical health, Nicolas points out that it's also great for your self-esteem. While a core workout or upper body burnout may feel challenging and disheartening at first, you'll feel so much confidence when you try it again and realize that you now know the ins and outs of a bicycle crunch. So next time you take a new workout out on the town, consider following up for a second date.

Check out Nicolas' 13-minute upper body and core workout—and don't forget to try it twice: 

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