Fitness Articles

The Mix 'N Match Workout

The No-Brainer Way to Add Variety to Your Program

People love routine. There’s comfort in doing the same things and knowing exactly what to expect—no surprises, no fear, no thinking required. And sometimes, routine can be a very good thing.
But when it comes to your workout, doing the same moves day in and day out isn’t doing much to help (or motivate) you. A lot of times we stick with a program because of that comfort zone. Maybe it’s all you know how to do, maybe you’re afraid of those odd contraptions, or, if you’re like most, maybe you don’t understand the importance of variety when it comes to exercise. Whatever your reason, it’s time to break out of that workout rut!
From this point on, consider the idea that your muscles are smart. When they do new things—whether dancing, martial arts, or strength training—they’re a little shaky at first. But they learn quickly, mastering these new moves, so much in fact, that they become MORE efficient at doing them. So, they don’t have to work as hard (or burn as many calories, or respond with positive gains) to keep up with the program.
For this reason, and the fact that you should always be challenging your body in order to keep improving your fitness level, you should deliberately alter your fitness routine “regularly”. This can mean different things for different people. Some will alter their exercises on a daily or weekly basis, but whatever frequency you choose, change your strength training program at least once every 4-6 weeks. This will help you avoid hitting a plateau in the first place.
If you need a little help accepting change, that’s where the Mix ‘N Match Workout comes in. Use the chart below to choose any exercise from each group (numbered 1-8 at the left) for your workout. Do your usual # of reps and sets. Then, change it up for your next workout. Pick a new exercise from the same row, and continue to alter your program regularly. This way, your muscles remain challenged—and you get fitter, stronger, and healthier over time.

*Always consult your health care provider before beginning this or any new exercise program.*
Choose 1 (A, B, C, or D) from each category (1-8)

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Member Comments

  • Great useful chart to use.
  • Liked the chart and pick list idea
  • This is just what I needed to get me motivated to change my same old workout!
  • Like this workout with options - !!!!!!!
  • Big thumbs up! Like!

  • 30 minutes of exercise daily (7 days a week) helps me maintain but doesn't give me a loss in weight. I have to have some heavy-duty exercise days when I am getting a couple of hours of something strenuous in to actually lose weight. Aiming for 10,000 steps per day at least 5 days a week.
  • MSDesertRodent, What do you think you should do to feel it more? Add more weight or work harder? You might have a higher tolerance for exercise so you may need to amp something up, but get advice before you do anything about it, in my opinion.
  • I am just starting on my workout journey and am only working out for 30 minutes 5 days a week along with my strength workouts, but I think that I will definitely amp that up to meet these guide lines in the long run, but right now I am just not to that point yet!
  • Delighted to have found this! I've known for some time that I should vary my routines more than I do and although I've made some efforts in that direction I'm too lazy to do it properly. You've done all the hard work for me! Thanks Nicole and wonderful Sparkpeople!
  • And again, just what I needed today! Perfect :-)
    Thanks SP!
  • This is great! I'm hanging this up in my workout room and starting on it this week.
  • Nice to have this handy! Thanks
    I go to the gym several times a week & take classes: step aerobics, zumba, pilates, yoga, nia, depending my my schedule but I try to get at least 4 a week. The step and zumba classes have a strength component built in. I do 6-10 SP strength videos each week. I walk 4 miles several days a week. When I do it all I feel so much better.
  • CLEE47
    Great tool! I too printed this article. My partner and I walk three miles everyday with a set of weights in hand; I was telling her this morning that I needed to increase my weights since they were not challenging anymore. I also wanted to add strength training but did not know where to start. I printed exercises, put them in document protectors and and place in a binder for everday use. Thanks again SP. //Cynthia//
    What would be wonderful is to add a full body workout to the Nordic Walking. It provides a different leg and arm movement than the exercises listed plus engages the core, provides balance and stability to those with balance issues.

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

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