Are You Boring Your Muscles?
4 Tricks to Vary Your Workouts & Maximize Your Results
You want results.
You know to get them, you’ve got to hit the gym and work hard. You’ve become so familiar with your workout routine that you’ve got every move memorized. You know exactly how much weight will be a challenge. You could adjust your seat at the leg press to the right height in your sleep. You are taking that ceremonial drink of water after your second set.
You’ve got your routine down and you’re busting a sweat every chance you get, so why aren’t you seeing these results already?
“Your muscles are bored.”
Think about your favorite book. The first time you read it, you learned so much about the characters, the era, even a few things about yourself. It was a new and exciting experience; a moment of growth. You read it again and found new gems that you didn’t pick up on the first time. The book was still challenging you, helping you grow mentally and spiritually.
By the third or fourth reading, maybe not so much. The book may still be a great read, but after a few times through it becomes comfortable and familiar. That repetition isn’t stimulating you as much as a new challenge would.
And worst of all: completely ineffective! Your workout is meant to challenge you. If you want to change and grow, you’ve got to rise to that challenge, not rinse and repeat last month’s workout.
If you are doing the same routine with only minor variations to the level of resistance, your body will reach a plateau. This means that you’ve trained to a point when, despite your continued hard work, your body is not responding. You’re maintaining, but you’re not moving towards your goals.
It’s time to change up the routine & invest time on your body.
Look at other exercises that target the muscle groups that you’re trying to develop. Ladies, want to build defined quads, shredded hamstrings and a break-the-internet butt? My clients who share these goals all have one thing in common: they’ve already mastered the squat, and that’s about it.
Look, squats are great. Every trainer on Instagram will tell you that they got their butts from squatting. Squats are a cornerstone of functional fitness, but there are so many other ways to challenge, target and build the butt.
However lunges. Bulgarian split squats. Step-ups, leg presses, a whole host of other exercises to keep your muscles challenged and fight the fitness plateau.
Constantly changing your workouts to challenge your muscles in new ways and improve your results is a technique known as “muscle confusion.” This idea has influenced the entire industry ever since Tony Horton’s Beachbody used the concept to create P90X (this is not an endorsement, just credit where it’s due). The idea is that varied exercises increase muscle stimulation and adaptation. Fitness experts argue about how long you should stick with one routine before mixing it up, but we agree that muscle confusion is essential for effective workouts.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to completely recreate your routine every time you hit the gym. Here are three simple ways that you can change up your workout and boost your results:
- Are you aware of your rest time? Start paying close attention to the recovery time you usually give yourself. Once you know your routine, change it up. Give yourself more time to recover and add in a low impact movement that targets a different muscle group. Give yourself less time to recover and see how it impacts your workout. Pay close attention to your body’s response and be careful not to push yourself too hard, especially when you’re just starting out with a new routine.
- Add static holds to your workout to provide continuous tension. For example: when doing alternating shoulder presses, hold your left arm at half rep position while doing full reps with your right arm.
- Challenge your balance and stability. When doing a dumbbell press, try using a balance ball instead of a bench. This will incorporate stabilizers that are not at work when laying on a grounded bench.
- Train for a sport. Instead of doing your steady state cardio, grab a friend and a football and mimic your favorite Quarterback and Wide Receiver duo. Try that boxing class that you’ve been wanting to try. Grab a soccer ball and go down the field from goal to goal. This will certainly give you the change of pace you need.
You want results? You’ve got to challenge yourself, and keep challenging yourself. The second your routine starts to feel comfortable, start finding new ways to push your body. The extra effort is worth the investment.
Have questions about any information in this article? E-mail email@example.com and talk to one of our fitness experts.
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Demetrius Fincher, LMSW, NASM-CPT
Invest in Your Body