Should I Add Variety to my Routine?

By Terri Ross

I recently had a client (let’s call her Janet) ask if it was okay to be on the elliptical for an hour every day. Janet’s biggest goal is to lose weight before her big trip in 2 months, and she asked me if a rest day is necessary. This is a common question and misconception I hear often–more is better.

It all depends on the intensity of your cardio. I asked Janet: how long are you exercising, how fast and what kind of resistance setting are you using? If you are going at a pace where you are able to talk, sing, and don’t feel like you’re dying, go for it. A little bit of low-moderate intensity cardio is good for the heart each day, but it is great to vary the intensity to make sure you are really challenging yourself.

Now Janet, if you are really “killing it,” by showing off boob sweat and wondering if you splashed on the guy next to you, then I would recommend a rest day since you are really challenging your body and are likely to feel exhausted toward the end of your week. That makes sense, right Janet? Good! Changing your routine throughout the week is a good thing, and make sure you are always finishing your workout feeling challenged and strong!

Have you thought about incorporating strength training into your routine? No?! Well then I am happy you are here. There is an abundance of evidence proving the incredible benefits of strength training, showing it burns more calories due to your body working to repair and rebuild your muscles for hours after you’ve finished the workout. Plus, the resistance is good for your bones as you age. Did you know that starting at the sprite age of 30, women lose 3-8% of their muscle mass each decade, with the decline worsening after age 60?! This contributes to a slowing metabolism and increased fat storage if measures are not taken to combat these common side effects of aging.

To summarize, having variety in your exercise routine keeps your body adapting, changing, and getting stronger. If you are doing the same boring routine every time you go to the gym, your body will get accustomed to it and you will likely stop seeing results. So mix it up Janet! Un-rack some weights, take a HIIT class, go for a long jog, and most importantly, listen to your body. A rest day here and there is likely to boost your progress, not slow it down. Rest is just as important as the time spent exercising!