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Tips for changing up your workout

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Change can be a good thing

Change is the spice of life, so to keep your workout nice and spicy, you’ve got to mix things up. If you’re stuck in a rut and you’re not sure what’s next, use these quick tips to change up your workout and continue seeing health-related results.

Woman with weights

Increase your cardiovascular fitness

If your normal routine consists of 30 minutes of cardio at a relatively steady pace, you may find yourself hitting the dreaded fitness plateau. Give your routine a makeover by incorporating intervals into your regular workout. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, alternating between bursts of higher- and lower-intensity cardio can improve cardiovascular fitness as your body develops new capillaries to efficiently deliver oxygen to the muscles.

BONUS: You'll burn more calories, too!

If you're wary of interval training, just keep in mind that you don't have to become a sprinter to see results. Simply increase your workout intensity for 30 to 60 seconds before slowing back down to your original pace. Stay at the lower intensity level for 30 to 120 seconds as your body recovers, then bump up your pace or resistance again. Continue alternating between intensities for 25 to 45 minutes.

Read more: Interval training 101 >>

Enhance muscular health

When you find a weight training routine you're comfortable with, it's easy to avoid branching out to try new exercises. Unfortunately, most weight machines only allow your muscles to move in a single plane of motion and don't require "helper" muscles to enhance stability at the joints. These exercises are less functional and rarely mimic real-life movements. So while you'll get stronger, your functional fitness may not improve.

Even if you're regularly using free weights or performing more functional movements, you still need to switch things up on a regular basis to prevent stagnation. Consider boosting your muscular health by trying the following:

  • If you're a weight machine queen, commit to incorporating at least one workout a week that uses body weight or free weight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, pull-ups and bench dips. All of these exercises require the engagement of multiple muscle groups while also mimicking real-life movements.
  • If you're already a free weight maven, commit to incorporating balance training into your workout. Start using a BOSU ball, balance disc or fitness ball to make your normal exercises more difficult. The American College of Sports Medicine released an update to their exercise recommendations in 2011 recommending at least 20 to 30 minutes a day of this type of neuromotor exercise.

Read more: Top 10 functional exercises for full-body fitness >>

Prevent boredom

Sometimes working out is boring. If you're having a hard time finding the motivation to head to your regular yoga class or pop in your go-to workout video, it may be time to turn your workout upside down. Consider mixing things up and trying a workout outside of your normal comfort zone:

  • Turn in your running routine for a month of yoga, Pilates or ballet-inspired dance
  • Give up traditional group exercise for a booty-busting boot camp workout
  • Swap your swim for weight-bearing strength training
  • Change up your cardio routine with rock climbing, sport leagues or track-style workouts

Read more: Ways to motivate yourself to get fit >>

Reach a goal

Sometimes the best way to challenge yourself in your training is to set new fitness goals. Take a moment to think about the types of physical activities you'd like to try or the goals you'd like to accomplish. Maybe you've always wanted to try surfing or to complete a 10K. Whatever it is you want to accomplish, change up your fitness routine to help you reach that goal. For instance, if you want to learn to surf, start working on balance and upper body strength to help you get up and stay up on the board. If you want to run a 10K, sign up for a race and start working on lower body and cardiovascular endurance. Having a tangible goal to reach will help you choose daily exercises designed to help you reach that goal.

Read more: Setting fitness goals >>

More fitness tips

Quick cardio workouts in your neighborhood
Setting up a workout schedule
Ways to motivate yourself to get fit

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