When I first started training with a personal trainer, I was curious as to why we didn’t do the same workout every week? I wondered if it was to keep me from getting familiar with the exercises so I would be able to do them at home and not have to pay her! Now, I had been a runner my whole life so this resistance training thing was new to me. I figured she knew what she was doing; It turns out she did.
Switching up exercises can keep us from reaching a plateau, help us make gains in our strength and achieve greater results. Some fitness professionals call this “muscle confusion” when we work muscles different ways. So how does this work?
1. Change it up! Doing the same exercises at the same intensity day after day only works certain parts of a muscle. Adding a balance component for stabilization or changing positions makes for a more complete movement of all parts of the muscle being targeted. For example, when working out your gluts, the big lazy muscle behind you, you can do a deadlift or cable pull while balancing on one leg. It may be necessary to adapt on the fly if a planned exercise for an individual with a disability “doesn’t work”. It is nice to know there are various ways to achieve the same results.
2. Yawn! Boredom factor! Then there is the fact that it is just boring to do the same thing over and over. I ran the same route day after day after day. I kept the weight off because I was thin already. As I aged, it was harder to lose the belly fat and gain muscle definition. Once I started with my trainer, the weight came off and I saw results in my tone. Often people with disabilities like routine, but with good instruction, they can learn new tasks, be proud of learning something new and get the same muscle benefits from adapting.
3. Challenge your muscles! You can do the same number of repetitions while changing the exercise to get a well-rounded workout on the muscles you want to target. You can change the reps as well, but it is more valuable to change to the exercise itself. For example, how about holding the bar and lift your knees to your chest or toes to the bar one day and then do medicine ball chops another day. Both work the abs and core. It is very empowering to let people with disabilities have some choices so they take ownership of their fitness program.