Our Friday Five: “Changing it Up”

We’ve all heard the phrases “change it up” and “keep your body guessing,” when trying to tweak a workout. But what does that mean? How does one alter a routine while still working towards a set goal? In this week’s Friday Five, we take a look at five ways that you can “change it up” and reach your fitness expectations at the same time.

1. Who

If you exercise alone, do it with a friend. Talk about the latest trends, your jobs, or not at all—just enjoy each other’s company. Research from Oxford University in 2009 showed that athletes that worked out together released significantly more endorphins than those that exercised by themselves. These effects created a higher tolerance of pain in the group workout, and suggested that human bonding and interaction could greatly improve through these group activities.

2. What

The true meaning of “keep you body guessing:” change what you do. Unless you strictly adhere to a certain routine, try a different machine at the gym, or do the routine in a different order. If you tend to run or cycle long distances as your workout, try throwing in some push-ups or abdominal exercises at a checkpoint. One of my favorite workouts that I do to complement my runs is a simple fat-burning routine:

5 minutes or 0.5 miles at a brisk pace, followed by a 1-minute walk to catch your breath

3 sets of 10 push-ups

Same run/walk combination

3 sets of 25 sit-ups or any other abdominal exercise

Repeat that cycle two more times.

In total, it’s a 30-minute/3-mile run with 90 push-ups and 75 sit-ups, all with the goal of changing it up and doing something different.

3. When

Exercise at a different point in the day, if possible. If you’re an early-morning runner, try going out when the sun is going down, or at night with the proper lighting gear. Same goes for night runners—run in the early morning and watch the sun come up. I ran at sunrise for the first time in years just a couple of weeks ago, and it was incredible. I still love my night runs, but I had forgotten how great it feels to start the day with a few miles under my feet. It may mean waking up an hour earlier than you would like, but it’s worth it.

4. Where

Probably the easiest way to change it up: the location. Find a new park or trail to bike or run in. Talk with your friends about their favorite place to exercise, and switch locations. Many people talk about a “change in scenery” as a huge benefit to staying motivated, especially when they start to dread their workout. Do some research and don’t be afraid to travel a little farther than before. Bonus points for bringing a new friend along to a new place.

5. Why

Think about the purpose of your workout. Why are you doing it? Is it to stay in shape, to lose weight, blow off steam, or something else? Identify why you’re out there exerting yourself, and make that your drive and motivation. So many of us lose track of why they exercise, and lose focus. Figuring out the reason that you put on those running shoes or get on that bike can reinvigorate your passion for exercise.

There you have it, five ways to put the phrase “change it up” into perspective. It may not always be easy, but adjusting your routine can avoid boredom or potential burnout, and also adds some creativity to getting in shape.

How did we do? As always, be sure leave us a comment on what else can be done to “keep the body guessing” from workout to workout.

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