Adapting Your Workouts
Once our bodies adapt to a specific form of exercise, they demand change. Redundant exercise gets boring not only for the mind but also for the body. Have you ever noticed that after you master a workout, your body suddenly rejects that very same routine you’ve been doing for months? Signs that you’ve become overly accustomed to an exercise routine include:
- Fatigue (despite doing a known workout for months)
- Overuse injury
- The loss of the fitness “runner’s high”
According to Pete McCall, MS, “General adaptation syndrome describes how the physiology of the body adapts to a physical stimulus such as exercise. When beginning an exercise program, there is an initial alarm phase of one to three weeks, where the body recognizes that a new stimulus is being applied. This is followed by an adaptation phase of four to 16 weeks, where the body adapts to the stimulus and becomes more efficient at tolerating it. Finally 12 to 16 weeks, the body reaches what is called the exhaustion phase, where the stimulus no longer has a significant effect.”
Recently, I realized that my body was over my workout. I had spent the past several months working almost exclusively on building my running endurance. I achieved my goal of being able to comfortably and consistently run 5 miles five days a week (3 miles was my previous comfort zone and take note that I’ve never had a runner’s body). Even on the most hot and humid days I jogged the Central Park loop sporting a smile. For the first time in my life, running was easy; I pounded the pavement with pride and joy, and even gave up my rest days.
A couple of weeks ago, it became clear that I had become overly adapted to the 5 mile run. Here is why:
- I woke up in the mornings exhausted and bored by the thought of running.
- I no longer ran like a graceful gazelle but slogged through Central Park like an overworked mule.
- My body, mind and interest waned, and as a result, rejected the runs I had come to love and rely on to feel good.
My body had adapted to the conditions and was demanding something different. The science of exercise and physiology had kicked in.
Most of you who workout, have probably experienced a similar moment, when your inner voice asks for change. If you are just getting started, you will soon understand what this all means–that after the body accepts an exercise program and functions within certain high parameters, it eventually complains. “The physiology of the human body is highly adaptable to any exercise stimulus placed on it in an appropriately challenging manner,” says McCall. “Exercise that is too intense or increases in difficulty too quickly may overload the tissues and cause injury. On the other hand, doing the same exercise repeatedly could lead to a plateau where no more physiological changes occur.”
When the body plateaus, in order to give it what it wants, it is important to have different workouts to which we can default. As sad as picking up a jump rope and weights seemed to me when running had become so easy, I faced the first day of combined HIIT (high intensity interval training) and circuit training with determination.
The results were positive. I was pleasantly engaged and “high” from the new workout. My body and mind were happy to be executing the new challenges and surprisingly ready for skipping rope, bicep curls, triceps extensions, squat jumps, jumping jacks, cherry picker crawls, sit ups and more. I felt well on my way to achieving new goals, which were to have fun with my cardio workouts, tone my core, butt and arms and to enjoy the use of my heart and lungs in a different way.
Many of you have been doing the same workouts for months or years and might wonder why with all the hard work you still have soft spots in certain places, feel tired or are no longer excited and energized by your workouts. The answer very well may be that your workouts are well past their sell-by dates. From swimming to yoga, cycling to Pilates we can easily become addicted to that which is easy for us. But, it’s important to be cognizant of this fact and that being in incredible shape for life requires sensitivity to what workouts the body needs when. It will never just be one over a long period of time.
Below is one of my current intermediate workouts. With permutations and combinations of approximately 150 HIIT cardio and toning exercises I do and offer my clients, I can create a huge number of different HIIT and circuit workouts. Since I combine these workouts with running, cycling and other forms of cardio, I keep my clients and myself on my toes!
HIIT + Circuit 1
Jump Rope 2-Minutes
Standing Oblique Toners With 15 lb. Weights 1-Minute
Jumping Jacks 1-Minute
Advanced Cherry Picker Crawls 1-Minute
Triceps Extensions And Pulses, 10 Reps Each Consecutively, 7lb Weights
Sit-Ups With 15 lb. Weight On Chest, 10 Reps
Glute Toners 10
*Repeat all moves in order for a total of 2 rounds
Rolling Side Planks With Dips, 10 Reps
Advanced Triceps Dips, 12 Reps
Orange Squeezes, 10 Reps
*Repeat all moves in order for a total of 2 rounds
Walk On Treadmill at 4.5-4.8 mph, 20-Minutes
**To learn all of these moves with me on video, sign up for my fitness program here! In addition to videos under 1-minute in which I teach you how to do each of the exercises, you also get the steps and the benefits. And, when you become a JWM member, you automatically get my yoga and food programs too, all for just $10/month. You won’t regret this purchase!