Habits of Fit People: Mix It Up!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
You want to be a fit person, right? Now that I've made fitness a habit in my life, I'm sharing my own secrets to keeping fit and staying healthy in the ongoing Habits of Fit People series.

Here's one that works for me: Mixing up your workout routine. So why does something like this matter?

I probably don't need to tell you that doing the same old workout day in and day out can become, well, boring. 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?

Beyond the mental monotony, doing too much of the same movements and exercises can cause problems for your body, too. For one, it could result in overuse injuries, which are common among people who use the same muscles groups and joints in the same ways for too long. Secondly, 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.

One surefire way to prevent all these problems is to mix it up—your workout, that is. I know we're creatures of habit, but even the most rigid of us can find ways to add a little variety to our plans. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or take more time either.

I am all about mixing up my workout routine. I get bored…fast. My fitness personality reveals that I need to change things up as much as possible, and I've experienced results from a variety-packed approach of this firsthand. When I shared my workout "routine" with everyone, one thing was clear: It is not much of a routine. I exercise, but I do something different day to day and week to week.

Even if you love the predictability of the same workout, the same exercises and the same machines, you can still mix it up. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Timing is everything. Instead of always doing 20 minutes on the treadmill, play with that timing. Try shorter workouts, bumping up the intensity, or longer ones when you can squeeze them in. If walking is all you have access to, that's OK. Mix up your intensity and workout duration to continue surprising your body and seeing results.

Class act. Even if you don't belong to a gym, most gyms offer trial passes (sometimes for up to a week of free access) or promotions where you can take a class for free before you buy. Find something new and different that'll surprise your muscles and recharge your mind.

Gather ideas. It isn't easy to come up with new workouts and ideas all the time on your own. Luckily, SparkPeople's free workout videos, exercise demos, and fitness resources offer hundreds of ideas for new exercises. You can also sift through magazines for new and interesting moves to try at home or at the gym. Personally, I never do the same strength-training workout twice. But at the very least, you should change up your routine entirely every 6-8 weeks minimum. This article explains how.

Cross train. Essentially, "mixing it up" is the same thing as cross training, which offers many benefits to the body, from greater calorie burn to a decreased risk of injury and burnout. All it means is that you need to change up the MODE of exercise you choose so that you're using your body in a variety of ways. A sound fitness program should consist of at least two types of cardio exercise, for example, be it walking, running, or biking. Swimming, dancing, boxing, step aerobics, jumping rope—all of these cardio activities are different. If you need ideas of where to start, consider both high and lower impact options. Cycling (low-impact) is a great compliment to running (high impact). Swimming (low impact) uses your muscles in different ways than walking (medium impact).

Take it to a new direction. You might not know it by watching most people who work out in the gym, but our bodies are designed for more than forward motion. However, we walk, run, bike, and swim forward all the time. For greater variety, consider activities that move in NEW directions. Use the elliptical in reverse motion. Try rock climbing and take your workout to new heights. Add the backstroke to your swimming workout. Take a dance or aerobics class, most of which offer movement in all directions, including laterally. These multidirectional movements use your muscles in new ways—that's a good thing!

Turn to the video stars. Visit your local library and check out whatever workout DVD that looks most interesting to you. I try new DVDs regularly because it makes my workouts more fun and interesting—you never know what you're going to get! I have a small library at home of my favorite titles, which I turn to when I'm starting to feel bored with my usual workouts or when I just need a little jumpstart.

If you don't already mix it up regularly, now's the time. Start by swapping out your usual workout once or twice a week with one of the ideas above. Come up with new ways to surprise your muscles and excite your mind about fitness, and you'll be on your way to making it a habit you can stick with for the long run!

Do you "mix it up" when it comes to fitness or are you stuck in a routine? What are some ways YOU can add more variety to your fitness program starting today?

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YMWONG22 5/23/2021
Great Report
CD13953191 11/24/2020
I am trying to reach out for other options Report
I am going to try some new dances Report
1CRAZYDOG 8/22/2020
Not only good for the body, but good for the mind, too! Report
Thanks for sharing this one, Coach Nicole!!! I enjoyed it!!!!! Report
Your article is very good. I have read it before and I never get tired of it. Report
Great article! Report
You do not get bored when you mix it up! Report
thank you Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
thanks Report
Useful article. Report
great ideas. thanks Report
Very good article, Thank you for sharing. Report
Appreciate the suggestions, I hit a level where I bounce between 179 Lbs. and 182 Lbs. I'm trying to break through this level. Report
Enjoyed the message here. Report
I vary w/the workouts, right now I do turbo sculpt STTH and cardio on MWF and saturday is my day off. I have increased the weights. I am always changing the cardio and sometimes add different cardio and of course the vaccuming is a big calorie burner. Report
Since I'm new (7 days today) I'm so excited about all the exercises, video clips, demos, articles, that so far, everyday, I do a little something new! Thanks for the Great Advice! Report
I have to do different things, or I get very bored. It keeps things interesting in general. Report
Well...I train for a 5K 3 days a week, on top of doing either a Leslie Sansone video (anywhere from 30-60 minutes) the same day. On off days I usually do Pilates or a circuit training workout (3 min cardio, 2 min strength, 1 min ab cycle x 6), and I take Sundays off. I might go for a leisurely walk outside on Sundays, but I really try to give my body a rest. Is that mixing it up enough? Report
Question- for someone (me) who just started exercising for real- about 25 days ago, when should I start switching things up? When it gets easy or easier? Cause I am still huffing and pouring sweat with just doing the c25k thing and then more brisk walking for 30-45 mins. Report
I've never tried Zumba and thinking about trying it. Should be fun! Report
I've tried changing it up, but didn't stay with it....bad time in my life for me. But, things are better, now, so I'm going to try it again and this time, it'll work!!! Report
I definetly mix it up or I will not be as enthusiastic about it and then it is easier to say oh I will do it later. But not anymore MIX IT, mix it. oh yeah! Report
For years I have been an avid walker and a creature of routine exercise. I could not understand why the weight just isn't coming off, now I understand somewhat. I am going to try to "mix things up" and set small goals in various exercise areas so I will know when to move on to something else. Thanks for giving me the tools to help change old habits and start seeing results. Report
mixing it up reduces boredom and shows you how much you've advanced when you do something different Report
I just switched from dish to cable and loved discovering ExerciseTV on my On Demand system! I used to Netflix new workout DVDs to keep things fresh and try something new. Now I don't even have to wait for the DVDs to arrive. I just turn on the tv and see what's new and different!

Love the promo for rock climbing. I'm a big girl and fairly scared of heights, but I love indoor rock climbing and it's a great for toning arms, core and legs. Report
I love trying new exercises in magazines, like Fitness & Muscle . When working as a personal trainer, I would sometimes try some of those exercises with my clients. They were very effective. I like the idea of mixing it up. My favorites are new exercises to do with a fitness ball or resistance tubes. Report
I'm always trying new things. I've tried to get in a routine, but that is just not me.
So I do what I feel like doing for the day. Just as long as I'm doing. Report
I like to try anything just to change things up. I do yoga and see my trainer regularly as well as walking all the time, but it is nice to get out of your comfort zone and try something new sometimes. I have done belly dancing, zumba, hot yoga and recently I did pole dancing for a few months. You never know what you might enjoy unless you just take a breath and jump off the deep end. Report
I'm doing Barrys Bootcamp and he mixes it up no repeat exercise for one minute at a time. Very good exercise program. Works on every part of your body. 21 days now. Can see results already it's really good. Check it out, Go to Barrys bootcamp.com Report
I do try to mix up my workouts somewhat. Right now, I am doing a strength training workout I love but I add weight or repetitions to push myself. I also have been upping the resistance on my elliptical in short bursts several times during the course of my cardio workout. Report
I'll have to try mixing my routines up. I would normally do the same thing and it does get boring, but I never really thought about mixing things up. I'll see how it works for me. Report
Wish i had heard about SP years ago. I have been exercising for years and was seeing little to no result. I was doing the same things almost every day, i liked the routine. One of the first thing i learned here was changing my routine, i saw results almost right away. Now i change something almost every week, SP has given me wonderful exercise ideas. When people ask me how i lost weigh i tell them about SP. Report
I'm nearing the end of my 2nd month with SparkPeople and have to say that pretty much all of the exercise routines are new to me. But with all the great exercises available in the fitness tracker as well as the workout videos I think I'll be busy mixing up my routine for a while. Report
good ideas Report
thanks for the advice. It's something that I tend to forget! I get so focused on my workout,workout, workout and I forget that I need to change it up a bit. I guess it's a good balance to want to master your workout routine (for me right now it's taebo)... or whether it's mastering a certain machine. But once you feel like you've reached your goal (the level on the machine, the strength of your kicks, what have you), you know it might be time to move on and master something new. Report
I like to do something slightly different every day, but like in the kitchen I have to have my staples: running, pushups and curlups. I have to keep up with them for the military, and it keeps me at a minimum fitness level all the time. Above and beyond those three things, the sky is the limit! Report
Great ideas. I've knows that I needed to mix up my routines for awhile now, but never get around to it since my routine is easy. I've just started mixing up what I do at teh gym recently. One day I'll get on the elliptical, then the treadmill, and then the bike. Sometimes I'll stay at home with my wii fit and cardio boxing! Report
I mix up my cardio by using different machines (treadmill, elliptical, stairstep, stationary bike) at different speeds and inclines. I use Spark People exercises to mix up my circuit training. I usually change my routine every week or whenever the exercise gets too easy. If I didn't have variety, I probably wouldn't stick to it. Now, I can look forward to trying something different and challenging. It's great to be able to move on to a different exercise because the old one got "too easy" when I can remember how hard it seemed at the beginning. Report
I know from experience what an overuse injury is like. I used to walk several miles a week outside and on the treadmill. And then I got a stress fracture from overuse and didn't take care of it until it was "all the way" broken. So now I do lots of different things...I have several different kinds of videos, I've joined Jazzercise (and walk the half mile to the studio), I've started hiking, I dance. Once the weather cools down again this fall then I'll get my rec center membership that offers swimming, cardio machines, and classes like tap dancing, spinning, and yoga. Rarely do I walk for my workout more than once a week if that. Report
I'm a VERY habitual runner. It's my stress reliever and I'm addicted, however, I do add, about every other day, an exercise video. I get them through Netflix, so I can trade up frequently. I usually do them 3 times before exchanging them. Report
I try to mix it up by doing the treadmill one day and then Taebo the next. But, sometimes I slack in both areas and need some more willpower to keep going! Great blog...good advice. Report
I'm pretty bad about changing my routine. I love to walk, and I love my routine. I use the elliptical in the winter, but in summer I change to walking, biking, playing tennis, and hiking. I am hoping to add cross-country skiing and other outdoor sports (skating, e.g.) for my winter routine, but I admit that I'm bad about changing things on a more regular basis (i.e., every 4-6 weeks). Gotta work on this! Thanks for the reminder, Coach Nicole! Report
I must say that this is sooo true for me. Man, I get bored so quickly with the same thing. So, I my trainer, who kicks my butt three times a week, is great at making sure that she keeps me off balance with my workouts. It helps me to feel like I have accomplished something new and to keep up the intensity. So, variety IS the SPICE of LIFE!!! Report
I would rather ride my bike everyday than do most other exercises. But I guess that does not help by body. I need to slip in some other routines or movements to really work my body into shape better. Report
walking is my main stay but I am looking for other activities all the time Report
Good idea about looking at the library for fitness videos. Then you can try them out before to see if you want to buy them or try old ones that are not on sale anymore. Report
I am new to the site but i know that mixing up your routine can keep you from being bored and it give you a fresh start by using the muscle groups in a different way. I guess it keeps the body confused allowing it not to adjust to the same routine workout after workout! Great Tip! Report