The Secrets of Success: Mix It Up to Keep It Off

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
3/8/2010 6:08 AM   :  62 comments   :  18,486 Views

We've already learned how important exercise is to weight-loss success. But what kind of exercise helps the most? Is any one form of cardio or strength-training better than another? We recently survey our most successful members--people who reached their goal weights or were still going strong after losing at least 100 pounds--to find out. We compiled all of their tactics in our best-selling book, The Spark, but we're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #8: Mix It Up to Keep It Off.
Successful members exercised at home, outside, in the gym, with home equipment or home DVDs, with workout groups or buddies, varying their routines and keeping it fun so that they were more likely to keep going. So how does workout variety help you lose weight?

Two ways. First, it's the best antidote to exercise boredom. I probably don't need to tell you that doing the same old workout day in and day out can become monotonous. And when you're bored with exercise, you're more likely to drudge through it (without working to your full potential) and more likely to make excuses. After all, if your workout isn't as fun or exciting, as the other parts of your life, why bother? This goes hand in hand with another secret we already talked about: making fitness fun. I love to run (it wasn't always that way), but I make it a point to change up my route, music, distance, pace and intensity from day to day to keep the activity fresh and interesting. That means you're more likely to stick with it instead of making excuses to avoid it.

The second reason mixing it up really helps is that it keeps your body guessing. When an exercise or movement is new, your body has to work hard to master it by sending signals to engage more muscle fibers, including ones that were once dormant. This is one reason why most exercise newbies experience some amazing results soon after starting a workout program. But over time, your body adapts to your routine. Those smart muscles of yours know exactly what's coming and they begin to work out as efficiently as possible, which means you're actually working less intensely than before and burning fewer calories. All that adds up to one thing: the dreaded plateau. But my mixing things up, trying new exercises and changing your routine, you keep your body guessing—and burning more calories as a result. That means better weight loss and more fitness improvements.

As easy as it is for me to tell you to mix things up, most people don't know exactly how to do that. Well you are in luck because the following SparkPeople resources will show you how.
Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15). For more secrets to success, plus a 28-day jumpstart program you won't find anywhere else, read The Spark.

How do you mix things up? Has it made a difference in your mental and physical response to exercise?


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Comments

  • 62
    I had been doing walk, water aerobics and yoga on a set schedule. I've now added one of Nicole's 10 min. cardio workouts and I'm starting to jog. Things should change. - 3/16/2010   4:08:23 PM
  • 61
    I mix it up at Golds gym. I take taekwondo, aerobics classes
    a weight lifting class, free weights and i walk on the treadmill
    ocasionally. - 3/12/2010   10:43:27 PM
  • VANANDEL
    60
    I'm all into mixing things up. In the last week I have done the following: stair stepper, elliptical, running on a treadmill, cycling outside, spinning inside, weight training, walking. I normally would have also done a step class and maybe snowshoeing. Being active in different ways affects different muscles and allows other muscles to repair from a previous workout. Plus it's fun! - 3/12/2010   8:58:10 PM
  • JPIN152
    59
    For me, this has been one of the biggest "secrets" to my success. I try to do a different workout every day and it keeps me and my body from being bored. I surround myself with a lot of choices so I rarely repeat a workout during a week, or even a month! I have a lot of workout DVDs, plus I use online videos here on SparkPeople and on ExerciseTV. When none of those interest me on a particular day, sometimes I just make up a workout as I go along, using cardio and strength training moves I have learned along the way. This approach has kept me interested in working out because I am always looking for new routines to add to my repertoire. - 3/11/2010   1:18:12 PM
  • 58
    True! Mix up different exercise on alternate day does work. I do not mine that way you won't get bored. Exercise is challenging, always looking for some changes.
    That your body will adapt an overall performances. Good article! - 3/11/2010   7:52:27 AM
  • LINDZEEELU
    57
    great blog, good insight... - 3/10/2010   12:48:46 PM
  • 56
    I stick to boot camp and running my my "extra" for the day changes alot sometimes I will take a class at the Y or try a new video - 3/10/2010   10:53:30 AM
  • 55
    Great article! I try to do different workouts all the time but sometime I feel like I'm still doing the same ol thing!!! I have been on this plateau for 2 months now... ITS DRIVING ME NUTS!!!! - 3/10/2010   9:30:41 AM
  • 54
    I usually stick to the same old, same old.
    I believe the main thing is to do it, whatever it is. - 3/10/2010   7:26:11 AM
  • JESAK327
    53
    I enjoy brisk walking and do it almost every day. Everything else seems such a CHORE! I need to be better at mixing it up. - 3/9/2010   9:53:51 PM
  • 52
    I think finding something that you truly love it doesn't seem like exercise; for me it's biking. For someone else it could be running, hiking, dancing or weight training. Find you love and use it to your advantage. - 3/9/2010   8:58:49 PM
  • JUHOEG
    51
    It does work
    - 3/9/2010   7:07:39 PM
  • TEEJACKSON1
    50
    I mix things up by switching the exercise up. I do the exercise in counts like, 4 sets of 20. Yes it's made a difference physically. I have way more energy than before I started. I'm happy and more excited to loose weight now than before. - 3/9/2010   3:29:59 PM
  • 49
    two sets - 3/9/2010   2:54:20 PM
  • 48
    I borrow dvd's from the library and change my workout every 3 weeks with a new exercise dvd. - 3/9/2010   12:38:21 PM
  • 47
    Mixing it up helps a lot! And quick fire team really helps with that! - 3/9/2010   12:15:33 PM
  • 46
    I agree completely! Nothing kills exercise motivation more than boredom! And with so many different ways to exercise, there is no need to do the same things all the time. - 3/9/2010   11:26:40 AM
  • LITTLEWINNIE1
    45
    I did a metabolic assessment (New Leaf) at the Y and that gave me a 12 week program that told me exactly what to do on my cardio portion three times a week. It was designed to rev up the metabolism and increase my O2 capacity. More complex ideas than I bothered to learn (other than the obvious benefits of revving metabolism). But it gave me very specific cardio workouts to vary my heart rate zones, from low to max, three times each week. I do the cardio on the treadmill (since this isn't the greatest season in Minnesota to work outside!), and NEVER got bored for the entire 12 weeks. One day may be very short intervals in all four different zones, the next might be 4 minutes low, 2 minutes mid-range, 2 minutes low, etc. I find I need so much mental engagement to track minutes and heart rate each workout that I no longer (EVER!) get bored with the treadmill - amazing! At the end of twelve weeks, my VO2 had increased significantly, and I had lost 8 pounds. YEA! I now have the next set of varied workouts. There must be websites that give similar specific programs without doing the metabolic assessment. And I found the very specific workouts work better for me than just mixing up the speed, incline, etc. The key for me was staying busy keeping close track of the individual interval minutes and heart rate. Worked for my short attention span! It even keeps me from going crazy over the cockamamy dueling news stations and their opinions when I can't change the channels on the TVs in the gym . . .

    And are any of you doing TRX? LOVE IT! - 3/9/2010   10:53:00 AM
  • 44
    I have to admit that there are parts of my routine I no longer enjoy as much, like today's upcoming core strength training. Today I plan to try a new routine just to keep myself interested and my body working on something new! - 3/9/2010   9:22:31 AM
  • RLMCCUE
    43
    I'm guilty of not mixing up my routine as often as I should. I walk speed intervals on the treadmill three days a week. This gives me some variety by varying the speed and incline that I work at, but I'm about ready to move to the next level and work harder. I also plan to add swimming to my program once I've built a little consistency, so that will help mix it up more.

    Thanks for the blog and for providing the links, Nicole! As always, it's very interesting and helpful! - 3/9/2010   8:36:43 AM
  • 42
    I like to mix it up too. Each day at the gym I do a different machine or cardio workout. - 3/9/2010   8:28:58 AM
  • 41
    There are so many workouts to choose from. I look forward to exercise each day because it's always changing, never boring! Plus, mixing things up challenges my brain; no exercise-ruts here! - 3/9/2010   5:04:03 AM
  • 40
    I like to mix it up. I do exercise at home and at the gym. Also love hiking, walking and soccer. Can't beat being outdoors. I definitely would get bored doing all the same thing. - 3/9/2010   2:17:22 AM
  • 39
    I agree 110%! Keeping your workouts interesting and challenging makes your mind and body work harder. It's also more fun to try new things. You can go to group classes, join a cycling group, sign up for a fun walk or try new DVDs. And you keep your body guessing. - 3/8/2010   11:09:20 PM
  • 38
    I'm on board! - 3/8/2010   10:17:00 PM
  • 37
    I definately agree on mixing up your workout routine,because this challenges other areas of the body,and when you do you can become aware of muscles in places you did'nt realize you had. - 3/8/2010   8:53:40 PM
  • 36
    I recently hit a plateau and found Coach Nicole's earlier blogs and articles on "mixing it up". I followed her advice and changed a few things in my routine. I purchased some new exercise DVD's (including SparkPeople), started doing some of the 10 minute online workouts on breaks at work and added a bit of jogging to my regular boring walks. It definitely made a difference and helped me to reach one of my goals of weighing 145 by my 50th birthday. I can't say enough about how wonderful SparkPeople is. It always motivates me to keep trying! One more tip......stack up all of your DVD's and make a little exercise area with your weights, stretchy band, etc. Everytime you decide to use a DVD, put it aside in a separate stack so you use a different one every time until you've completed them all. Grab different size weights, a stretchy band or a jump rope to do something different even with old tried and true routines! - 3/8/2010   8:51:12 PM
  • 35
    This is great! I've heard mixing it up helps with consistent weight loss but the way you explained it goes so much more in depth than what I've heard and makes total sense! Thanks for explaining and giving me new motivation! - 3/8/2010   6:18:36 PM
  • 34
    I had NO idea of the benefits of mixing up ones routines, and keeping ones body guessing! TERRIFIC!! Thanks for the GREAT advice! - 3/8/2010   6:10:51 PM
  • 33
    I also love to run and mix up my routes and distances in order to keep my body guessing. I like to try a new activity every month (or there abouts) that I've never done before. For instance, I may take up dance classes or kayaking. - 3/8/2010   5:35:12 PM
  • NASHSHANNON
    32
    Basically it comes down to if your not getting results or if you are getting bored you have to mix it up. However, if you ever want to get results in weight loss and you are working out in the potential to achieve these results your never bored anyways your just beat! - 3/8/2010   5:18:52 PM
  • 31
    My husband and I hit the gym regularly and each month we switch up our routine. Free weights, cross cable and machines give us just enough difference. - 3/8/2010   4:56:05 PM
  • TCLADY
    30
    I try to change up my work outs , but work the arms and shoulders 2 days a week, back and pecs 2 days and legs and butt 2 days. But using differant moves each time. I do 40 minutes of cardio and about 30 minutes core and stretch every day. there are days i work at the gym with the machines and days i work at home with light weights and DVD's. - 3/8/2010   3:38:13 PM
  • 29
    For me, I switch up jogging one day and running the next...I do strength training one day and then rest the next...Yoga I do everyday! - 3/8/2010   3:32:32 PM
  • SUNNYDAYZ4ME
    28
    I like to walk, jog, bike, elliptical and circuit training...I can change up the walking, jogging and biking by changing my route or intesity. Also with my Elliptical and Circuit...its easy to do...just be inventive, and find things that you enjoy doing... - 3/8/2010   3:15:36 PM
  • SUNSET09
    27
    You don't only have to mix it up, you have to change it up on ocassion as well. You'll be surprised at how fit you think you are until you start working other muscles. - 3/8/2010   2:59:51 PM
  • 26
    I usually complete two types of exercise. However, as I read about mixing more and more I have begun to wonder that if using wii fit or ea active would qualify? They provide a variety of movement and I never do the same type and/or exercises routinely. This has been one of my ways to work activity into my day during the cold weather. - 3/8/2010   2:42:01 PM
  • COOPIE1212
    25
    Agree, mixing up the routine helps keep it exciting. - 3/8/2010   2:38:37 PM
  • 24
    I have been at a plateau for 3 weeks. This is just exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks!
    Jodean - 3/8/2010   1:42:17 PM
  • 23
    I absolutely "mix it up," if not it would get boring. I have a workout buddy that I meet with 4 times a week and we do a variety of strength training and cardio and I play ultimate frisbee once a week in the summer as well as Tennis from time to time. I always enjoy being motivated in different ways to continue my healthy journey (biggest loser, fitness magazine, and of course sparkpeople). - 3/8/2010   1:29:53 PM
  • 22
    I do a variety of cardio, strength training, and yoga throughout the week - 3/8/2010   1:16:37 PM
  • 21
    While I do have a standard workout I do each week, I do like mixing up the routine to keep things fresh. Some days I might add some stability ball or BOSU exercises. Other days I might skip exercises in favor of others.

    - 3/8/2010   1:06:59 PM
  • CJANNESS
    20
    Great blog, so true- I get bored easily so mixing it up is a must!! Im trying a new yoga class this week and am excited about it! - 3/8/2010   12:29:56 PM
  • GABBI39
    19
    This is very timely!! I have relied so long on just walking, and am trying to incoroporate strength training, and some workout DVD's. Maybe even the TreadMill, which I find boring, but it's good for interval training. I have even signed up for a water aerobics class. My biggest challenge is getting up in the am to workout! I work at 6:30 a.m., so really need to be up and exercising my 4:30 a.m. It's so easy to put that off, but really is the best time in my day to get a good workout. Anyone else workout this early???? - 3/8/2010   12:23:20 PM
  • 18
    Timely article! I've lost 5 lbs since I started by am realizing that if I want to party a little on the weekends and still be successful at the weight loss and health gain I'm going to have to renew my commitment to exercise, specially cardio. My granddaughter talked me into skating 2X per week; the arena is a block from my house and a block from her school so it worked really well. Then she broke a bone in her foot and my motivation waned. I started back on the ice on my own last week and I plan to walk 3.5 KM on pleasant days and have a Tae-Bo video for nasty weather. I'm plan to do cardio every day 'cept Sundays. I'll alternate Yoga and strength exercises from a book I've had for ages and enjoy using when I talk myself into it. I am participating in Dragon Boat races in June so I need to strengthen and tone. I need Yoga cause my flexibility sucks. Time to log out and lace up my runners. Get them boots walkin'! - 3/8/2010   11:38:01 AM
  • DOGSNRODENTS
    17
    I love mixing things up. I anticipate by summer time I will be doing all of the following:

    Cycling, running, softball, Zumba, tennis, hiking, swimming and walking. Not to mention I will be doing strength training (and perhaps some circuit training too). Keeping your body primed for many different sports really helps round out your athletic ability in them all! - 3/8/2010   11:31:55 AM
  • 16
    Mixing it up definitely keeps the boredom at bay. My favorite mixers are running, cycling, and yoga. Switching the time of day that I exercise helps, too. - 3/8/2010   11:30:18 AM
  • 15
    I've also been trying to mix it up as I can. Right now, I'm swimming, stationary bike, circuit training(like Curves equipment), Hoist machines for strength training, and walking. I like water aerobics when I can get there, but regular aerobics class wasn't for me. Just got to keep trying new things. - 3/8/2010   11:21:15 AM
  • 14
    I was just telling my sister yesterday that mixing it up makes a HUGE difference in the ability to stick with exercise, especially if you are not an exercise fan. She is going to try that. - 3/8/2010   10:45:40 AM
  • 13
    It's definately made a difference to me. I mix things up by running a few days a week, taking classes at the gym like boxing. I also do Jillian Michaels DVDs at home as well, and have started more weight lifting, at home, and at the gym. I have always liked variety, & try to vary my routine every so often. - 3/8/2010   10:30:14 AM

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