Getting into a gym rut is bad for body and mind. It can lead to the dreaded plateau, making losing those last few pounds difficult, and sticking to the same routine makes it very hard to stay motivated. Not only that, doing the same exercises can cause injuries as well — if you pay attention to certain muscles but neglect others, you put yourself at higher risk for injury.
Luckily, there are more than a few ways to start a sweat session. Make a decision to vary your normal routine by replacing some of your go-to cardio workouts with ones you haven't done before. Ready to get out of that rut? Here are five suggestions for varying your cardio routine.
- Switch up your interval training. Even if you already practice interval training during your cardio sessions, it helps to vary your variations to keep your metabolism revved up. If you've been working on an interval plan for awhile, try another approach — do the same interval workout while running your normal route backwards or shorten the amount of recovery time between sprints.
- Do supersets. Supersets are good if you are short on time, since you are essentially turning your strength training session into a cardio one as well. To do supersets, pair two different types of exercises back-to-back, with no rest in between. This will get your heart pumping, which will send more oxygen to your muscles; it's a win-win!
- Sign up for a class. Go ahead, take your pick. If you can't stand the sight of the treadmill any more, take a break by taking a cardio-heavy group class instead. Whether it's Zumba or a hybrid spinning class, a gym class that focuses on a total body workout will not only get your heartbeat up but will put an end to muscle boredom.
- No training required. Jumping into another form of cardio, like swimming or cycling, may not be as easy as it sounds if you're a newbie. There's technique to learn and gear to buy, and it may be awhile before you work up to an intensity of workout that you're used to. For a quick burst of cardio that you can do anywhere, try jumping rope. It's easy to start and cheap, and you'll be burning major calories while you pretend you're back at recess.
- Try a new gym machine. Always bypass the rowing machine for the elliptical? Take a break from your normal machine buddy and try out one that you're not used to. If you don't know how to use the machine, ask a roaming trainer for a quick tutorial, and go to it. Try the rowing machine, for example, or hop on the step machine for a cardio workout that also tones your legs.