Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hey, who took my elliptical? -- Let routine and flexibility coexist!


To say I'm a creature of habit may be an understatement. Or I guess more that I like to have things a certain way...I like the middle elliptical because it has the best view of the TV, I like the bench that's a bit off in the corner, and mostly I like to get my workouts done in the morning. This last one is probably the biggest for me.

I don't feel right if I don't start my day off with my workout. If I am forced to move back my workout time, I find I'm more anxious or antsy for the entire time leading up. My mind keeps drifting off to when I'm finally going to be able to get my sweat on. Now, maybe this level of quirkiness crosses the line into full fledged obsession...I'm also the first to admit that if there is something to be addicted to, at least I chose exercise over some sort of drug! But even I do recognize that there are times when I just have to be more flexible.

If that 'usual' elliptical is being used, just take the next...if 'your' bench is taken, so be it. If you can't get that workout in when you'd like, that's okay too because there are 24 hours in the day and chances are you'll still be able to get it in. This is especially true if you are coordinating with another person...you've got to find something that works for both of you. So if they like to workout at night, us morning peeps have to meet them halfway. Maybe you workout in the evenings half of the time and then mornings the other half. Your partner hates to run, maybe you guys do sessions on the bike part of the time.

This need for flexibility also extends to your workouts. Many times it's very easy to slip into a routine, but a little variance can do a body good. I don't think you need to change your workouts EVERY time out, and I don't believe in that. But we should have at least some variety and also do try new things too. Our bodies are conditioned to adapt and look for any ways to 'cheat.' As you get better at one activity your body gets more efficient and actually stops responding as much to the same motion. You don't need to do an overhaul on your workout routine to avoid this, however, but just make some small changes. If you're doing standard squats as your go-to leg move, mix it up by doing single leg squats or lunges. Just the different motions will keep the muscles from slipping into their own little routine.

In your cardio the same thing applies; that's why we suggest doing intervals of different lengths or doing hill work one day and flatlands the next. You want to keep things varied enough so that you keep improving, and it also keeps things interested.

On a final note, our little routines aren't always such a bad thing. And on the opposite extreme, if you have trouble staying dedicated to your workouts you can benefit from a little rigidity. That's why I also suggest planning what you're going to do for your workout beforehand. Going in with a set plan makes it easier to stick to something than just coming up with it on the fly. This also can work if you write your planned workout time down in your agenda...make it an important commitment to yourself and don't blow off that date.

So, let all of us routine lovers and sultans of flexibility meet in the middle and also share with each other just a little bit of our prized traits. We will all benefit. :)

PS- On a related note, be on the lookout for an upcoming article all about what the time of day we workout says about us and the benefits those timeslots have!

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