CHALLENGE AND CHANGE
THE IMPORTANCE OF VARIATION
It is important to ensure that you do not fall into a routine when you implement a training program. You may think that it is better to follow the same routine constantly as opposed to not partaking in any physical activity. This may not be the case. You might be doing a physical activity routine that has little to no benefit for your goals. This is because the body has the ability to adapt to certain tasks if repeated constantly. It allows the task to be done much more efficiently but with fewer results.
The main requirement when working towards improvement is the need to be challenged. Especially when doing physical activity. This results in becoming stronger and increasing endurance. Most individuals have great success during the initial phases of a new training routine, but as they continue they tend to progress less.
This begins to occur once the body adapts to the program, resulting in the body not responding as well as it initially did. Studies show that this may slow or even stop the improvements you were hoping to achieve. This, in training terms, is referred to as “hitting a plateau”. To effectively get over this phase you need to implement variation into your training routine. This may include variations in frequency, duration, intensity, location etc.
This variation is beneficial both physically and mentally and may even result in increased motivation.
This variation does not require an individual to change all aspects of their routines. We recommend only changing one factor at a time. Below we have listed simple changes to ensure variation in both resistance and cardiovascular training:
RESISTANCE TRAINING VARIATIONS:
- Weight – This is critical to challenge the body. Take care. as you increase the weight you may need to decrease the number of repetitions.
- Repetitions – The number of repetitions you perform has varying effects on the muscles. Lower repetitions with heavier weights may result in muscle building, while higher repetitions with lighter weights may result in increased endurance. Once again, ensure that you vary the weight accordingly to ensure that you challenge the muscle. The final repetition in a set needs to be extremely difficult.
- Sets – This may require that you vary your training routine to include different styles of sets. You could try including supersets, which is performing movements that use multiple muscle groups back to back with no recovery between sets, and circuits that would have individual sets focusing on each muscle group in succession and then repeated for a set amount of times.
- Grip – This may be as simple as changing your grip when doing a pull-up or changing your hand position when doing bicep curls. This is frequently referred to as over-hand and under-hand grips.
- Activity – Implement some form of cross-training into your resistance routines. This could mean using kettlebells rather than dumbbells. You could also try using free weight on a Swiss ball rather than a bench.
- Type of Exercise – For example, you could vary your lunge pattern. Instead of a front lunge, try to substitute it with a side lunge.
CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING VARIATIONS:
- Type of Exercise – It is important to implement cross-training into your training routine. This may include running, cycling, swimming or indoor training equipment.
- Activity – To alleviate boredom, implement training that may be fun; activities such as hiking, climbing, skipping, rowing, roller-blading, trampolines or any other cardiovascular activities.
- Terrain – Ensure that you run on different surfaces. By including off-road running into your routine you give the body a break from the constant pounding of the road or sidewalk.
- Programming – Change the distances, times and intervals you train. Include flat terrain, elevations and High-Intensity Interval Training. Vary these routines over different days. If you are training on indoor equipment, such as a treadmill, spin bike or elliptical trainer, you can change up your training on the pre-programmed programs that are supplied by the equipment.
When looking for variation, be creative and look into all the available options. This will help you avoid hitting plateaus and the benefits will be evident, physically, mentally and emotionally.