The golden rule of effective exercise is to choose a type of physical activity you love. But choosing just one activity isn’t actually enough.
“Effective exercise doesn’t just come down to one workout, it’s a regime, and variety is key,” explains Dr Jinger Gottschall, Associate Professor at Penn State University. Gottschall advises you follow the ACSM guidelines to get the variety your body needs.
American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines recommend a varied training program featuring cardiorespiratory, resistance, and flexibility exercises.
“Research shows a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training fosters long-term engagement and results. We also know that injury incidence is reduced when you balance cardio exercise with flexibility and strength training.” Jinger Gottschall
But it’s not just the type of training you need to vary. It’s a good idea to mix up specific workouts too.
The amount of calories you burn during a workout varies depending on how many times you’ve done the workout before. If you’re doing the workout for the first time it’s likely that the amount of calories you burn will be a little on the low side. This is because the movements are new and you’re unlikely to be executing them with as much vigour or confidence as you would do if you were familiar with the movements.
The more you do something the easier it becomes, and every time you repeat the activity your body is improving its ability to handle that stress. This means you burn fewer calories and build less muscle with every workout.
“Your body knows what to expect and as a result it learns to minimize the energy expenditure. Even if you don’t realize it, you find the class slightly less challenging and automatically begin to take it easy.” Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research
If you want to keep making progress you need to keep introducing new activity.
To get the best results from the time you dedicate to exercise you don’t need to do different types of exercise each day (although that is a good idea), but you should do different variations of the workout.
That’s where the many different LES MILLS™ release options come in.
Every LES MILLS program follows a basic structure, but the regularly released new variations of the program feature new music and different movements or exercise patterns. The different releases are designed to continually challenge your body, stop boredom and help maximize your results.
How much variety is right for you?
Personal trainer Claire Bellingham says everyone is different and how much you mix up your workouts depends on your exercise temperament. “If you are a creature of habit there’s no point in pressuring yourself to adapt to constant changes. You’ll just get frustrated that you never seem to master the exercises. Equally, if you’re somebody who enjoys variety you will get bored quickly if you don’t change it up a lot.”
She adds if you’re new to exercise it will take your body more time to adapt. “Your muscles will need longer to get used to the load and your brain will need time to learn the new movement patterns. The fitter you are the more you need to challenge yourself to make continued progress.”
How you vary your routine also depends on your general health. Bellingham advises that if your body is in a stressed state you may not be equipped to adapt to higher loads, which means you could end up in an over-trained state and going backwards. “It could be a personal crisis, a large load at work, recovering from an illness or experiencing sleep difficulties. If your body is in a stressed state then you’re better to keep with a familiar exercise routine than try and tackle something new.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- A mix of cardio, resistance and flexibility exercise drives long term engagement and results – and reduces injury risk.
- Do the same workout repeatedly and you’ll burn fewer calories and build less muscles each time.
- To build strength and improve fitness you need to keep introducing new activity.
- Small changes are sufficient.
- If you’re introducing more significant changes to your regime you need to give your body time to adapt.