Variations and Vitality in Workouts
By Dr. Don Rose,
No one likes doing the same old workout over and over. In fact, your body doesn’t like such repetition either.
We all know one’s routine can quickly become, well, routine. Turns out you get better results if you periodically surprise your body with new regimens or at least a few new activities as part of your regular workout. Keeping your body from getting used to your exercise moves helps you avoid a “plateau,” in which progress (measured in calories burned, muscle growth, etc.) can slow down or even stop. In addition, your mind also benefits from the increased stimulation that new workout variations can provide.
In other words, keeping your body on its toes helps prevent workout woes.
So, in the name of novelty and newness, we present some intriguing ideas to inject into your workouts, excerpted from various pages of the January 2009 issue of Prevention magazine.
Some Workout Variations to Try
These are like normal lunges, but you add right, back and left movements to the normal set of front-only lunge moves. Start with the regular lunge (in the forward direction, or 12 o’clock), then lunge right (3:00), lunge back (6), lunge left (9), and repeat. First two moves lunge with right leg, last two lunge with left leg.
Staggered-Stance Leg Lifts
These are like normal squats, but you begin with your left foot about a foot in front of your right. Do 8 to 10 reps, then switch to right foot being in front. Repeat.
Asymmetrical Wall Slides
These are like doing nearly-vertical push-ups. Put hands on a wall and lean in at 45 degree angle. At this point, you could do “wall pushups” -- but to add more novelty, add asymmetry: slide your right hand out 12 inches and then do the “push-up.” Repeat 8 to 10 times, alternating between sliding right and left.
Holding a towel with two hands, do a “little hop” while you “raise left knee and pass towel under leg.” Then do the same using right leg. Repeat for several reps.
Alternate Strength and Cardio
For maximum variety, you may wish to try a workout that uses all of the above exercise variations. Then, for even better results, add a “3-minute cardio burst” after each of the above “strength” segments. This should increase your heart rate and “burn even more fat” as you move from segment to segment. According to Prevention, this strength/cardio alternating cycle “burns as many calories as jogging, builds more metabolism-boosting muscle than lifting weights solo, and can even shrink your waistline more effectively than cardio alone.”
All this alternating also provides that desirable mental stimulation (a.k.a. boredom reduction) that we touched on before. And, for most, more stimulation means more motivation.
Don’t Stare at Stairs, Attack Them!
If you have some stairs nearby, why not incorporate them into your workout for some extra added variety. Walking or jogging up and down steps can (according to Prevention) help you burn up to 428 calories.
Then, if you really rev it up and run repeatedly on the steps, we expect this step in your routine would result in even more calories being burned.
No one likes being stuck in a rut, and this applies not just to your mind but your body as well. Variety is the spice of life, and also a great way to spice up your workouts.
This article presented ideas for tweaking parts of your exercise routine in order to increase its overall novelty. Some of the variations discussed above will move your body in new ways, which may stimulate new muscles or muscle groups. Experimenting with new exercise modalities also stimulates your mind, which results in a triple benefit: more alertness, less boredom and more motivation.
In short: Viva variety, via very vigorous variations!
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Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles
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