The Gym Spy: No Change, No Change

Cynthia Dermody

Flickr photo by lululemon athletica
Taylor Ryan, The Stir's personal trainer, is sleuthing the gyms and clubs, reporting on common workout mistakes that hold us back from the killer body we want.

The gym intel:

I work out at the same time every day, which means I see the same "regulars" each day. I've noticed a few women that haven't changed their workouts since they started, and that was quite some time ago.

One hops on her treadmill (I think she might ask me to get off if I dared to use it). Then, after 30 minutes, she hops off and does a few weight exercises before walking out. I have to fight the urge to scream out, "CHANGE IS A GOOD THING!"

The error:

If you never change your workout, you're doomed. You'll never hit your fitness and slim-down, tone-up goals. I hate to be harsh, but it's tough love when it comes to your workouts. First off, by never changing it up, think how boring and monotonous the gym becomes.

Working out isn't supposed to be boring. You should walk in pumped up and walk out just as excited. If you're bored with your workout, are you really going to keep up with a regular schedule for the long run? Chances are you just shook your head no.

Next, your body is pretty efficient. It doesn't want to work out harder than it has to. That means that it adapts to the stress and energy demand that your particular workout puts on you. If running a mile used to burn 100 calories, after a while your body adapts and gets used to the run, and it will only burn 80 calories ... which means you have to start running farther and faster to keep seeing results.

The same is true with weight training. This one particular lady I see a lot does the same four exercises (yes, just four): walking body weight lunges, dumbbell curls, assisted pull-ups, and shoulder presses. These aren't bad exercises by any means (well, maybe the curls) but since she's been doing the same thing for so long, I'm sure she hasn't seen any results.

Those lunges won't do anything else to her legs, and neither will the other moves.

The mission:

It's time to confuse your body. That means change up your workout completely! Change the exercises, the rest time, the reps, and even the sets.

For example, if you were doing 3 sets of 10 reps, try out 4 sets of 6 reps. That means lifting heavier and more intensely!

How often should you change it up?

At least once every four weeks. It takes your body around that long to adapt to a program. A brand-new regimen every three and a half to four weeks gives your body no chance to figure out what you're doing and to make sure you keep getting results.

This goes for classes too -- if you've been doing a specific group workout at your gym for a month, try a new one. Even better, grab some weights and give weight training a shot.  


Taylor Ryan is head trainer for The Art of Weight Lifting and the Charleston, South Carolina-based Fat Blasting Boot Camps for Moms. She's also at The Stir every Friday with a new Personal Training Workout.

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