My training cycles have more twists and turns than a Hollywood romance. This month it’s circuits, next month it’s pyramids. Sprints today, stairs tomorrow. No sooner do I get in a groove, and then it’s on to the next one. Yep, it’s confirmed; I’ve got a bad case of exercise ADD. But who says that’s such a bad thing?
Research confirms that plateaus occur when the body has adapted to your current regimen. How quickly this happens depends on a number of factors; your conditioning, the intensity at which your working, and whether your diet supports your activity, being the most relevant. Exercising at a low intensity will typically cause faster adaptation, while greater intensity can take a bit longer. However, the higher the intensity, the higher the propensity for injury becomes. So either way, your best bet is to change, and change often.
How often, you ask? Every trainer will have a different take on this. Some say three weeks; others claim ten days is the ticket, and still others swear that a different style daily will produce the best results. My take? Let your personality be your guide. I’ve said it a thousand times- the best form of exercise is the one you actually do.
Are you someone who craves consistency? Do you tend toward the same colors in you wardrobe, read the same authors, and rotate the same meals? If so, your best bet will be to create a program of repetition. Choose a goal (i.e. fat loss, gain strength, etc.) and learn the reps and sets needed to support it. For example, if your goal is fat loss, a circuit style program works wonderfully. So build a routine that combines upper and lower body moves, and do it the same way, three to four times each week. There are twelve months in a year, so you can create a new program each month. This is ample time to create a sense of familiarity, while not so long that it ceases to be a challenge.
By contrast, are you a thrill-seeker by nature? Do you switch your style with the seasons? Does your blow-out last longer than your boyfriend? Love ‘em and leave ‘em types can benefit from a more varied approach, so arm yourself with some knowledge and the world is your playground. As long as you have a base idea of what you’re doing, so as not to overtrain, there really is no limit here. You can use a muscle-building rep range on Monday, and work in the endurance range on Friday. Isolate body parts one week, and group them the next. Train in the gym some days, and take it outdoors others…you get the idea.
Whichever way is best for you, a few things hold true. One is that you must change your program to ensure continuous results. The second is, how dramatically you change, and how often you do, is entirely up to you. Finally, knowledge is power, and in this case, agility, endurance and fat-blasting as well. Know your personality, understand your goal, and how to achieve it, and do whatever keeps you motivated. Happy training!
About the Author- Erin Rass stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.