When I was seven my mother had “The Straps.” I don’t actually recall their proper name, but they were “nylony” with pulleys that fastened to the doorknob. “The Straps” made a cool “whirring” sound when my mother used them. This tangle of straps, I learned, was for “exercise.” I even remember when she first purchased them and attached them to doorknob in her bedroom. She didn’t waste a minute getting down on the floor, and tucking her hands and feet into the four different handles. She was off, whirring away, arms rising and falling, “getting in shape.” Other than the fact there was a high risk of head impact, should someone enter the room and fail to realize that you were “working out,” these straps had a low risk of injury. The straps also, based on the fact that they are now obsolete, were not actually proficient at “toning” as they claimed. Why not you may ask? Well, I will use my mother as an example. Really, there was only one movement these straps accommodated – envision a partially dead bug on its back. And although she had the “glowy-glisten” of Jane Fonda the first few times she used them, her body quickly adapted to the stress and became efficient at the movements.
Our bodies are wired to conserve energy. Repeat an action long enough, and your muscles and heart will find a way to make the job easier so that there is minimal impact to the rest of your body. After the twentieth or thirtieth time of my mom performing the exercises, she not only started burning fewer calories, she also failed to harness any new muscle cells. Muscle growth and cardiovascular output slowed to a minimum.
This is also true regarding our workouts today. Our bodies need a challenge. They need to be surprised. Your workout should never be the same twice. If you perform the same cardio, at the same level, or the same weight-based workouts, in the same order day after day, your body is doing the equivalent of leaning back with its feet up on the desk eating a donut. Your body, doing what is supposed to, has become acclimated. We do not want this to happen, rather we want to continue to improve our hearts and transform our bodies into a strong “glowy-glisteny” Jane Fonda-like being. Below, I have listed some ideas for keeping the surprise in your workouts. Mix it up people!!!
- DECK OF CARDS: Take a deck of cards and assign one exercise (to each card) that can be performed with repetition. (i.e. hearts may be bicep curls and/or spades may be squats.) Put the deck of cards face down, and flip the top card over (upright). If you draw an eight of clubs, and the clubs cards have been assigned pushups, then you are required to perform eight pushups. Turn over another card, (i.e. five of hearts, which means that you are required to perform five bicep curls). See if you can get through the whole deck as quickly as possible, only taking a breather when absolutely necessary.
- UP AND DOWN: While warming up for your workout, think of four standing exercises (i.e. squat jumps, bicep curls, chin ups, and/or dips) and four exercises that require you to be on the ground (i.e. burpees, pushups, side planks, and/or crunches). Type into your phone one standing exercise, one down on the ground exercise, one standing exercise, and one down on the ground exercise, until you have written out 6 to 8 exercises. Go through these exercises as quickly as possible, without stopping, and of course with good form.
- TRAVEL WORKOUT: Pick four to five different areas around your gym. Select an exercise to perform in that area (i.e. rowing machine in the cardio section, Deltoid raises at the free weight section, lateral pull downs in the universal section, and/or crunches in the mats section). Sprint from section-to-section to perform your exercises. Try to go through the rotation at least four times. If you are exercising at home, perform one exercise in each room of your house, including upstairs!Remember that your body wants a challenge. It wants to be taken by surprise. Your results will catapult into the stratosphere, if you do not become complacent with the same old exercises, day after day. Good Luck!
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Share below how you spice up your workout!!