As a personal trainer and weight-loss coach, I am constantly answering health and fitness questions from my clients, on social media and in our Start TODAY Facebook group. In this column, I address some of the most common questions and roadblocks that trip people up on their journey to establish a health and fitness routine.
Does it matter that I do the same workout every day?
One of my biggest goals with my private clients is helping them find a type of exercise that they really enjoy so that they can stay consistent with their workout routine. If you’re new to exercising, finding an activity you actually like doing can be exciting.
Perhaps it’s walking, dance cardio or yoga. Maybe you’ve fallen in love with strength training. There’s nothing better than looking forward to a workout, especially if this is a new component of your lifestyle. You may even find that this workout has become a habit and it doesn’t require much motivation to get it done each day.
While nothing makes me happier than someone truly enjoying exercise, there are some drawbacks to doing the same workout every single day, both for our physical and mental health. Here are a few reasons you may want to mix things up:
You might get bored
By doing the same workout day after day, you risk growing tired of the routine and losing your excitement for exercise. If you find yourself just going through the motions of a workout and not feeling engaged, you may be getting bored of it. This can lead you to not put your all into the workout, which will slow your progress, or drop it all together, losing the habit you worked so hard to create. I recommend adding in some new moves to your routine every other week, or upping the intensity, to keep things interesting.
You could even take a little break from your favorite workout. As they say: Absence makes the heart grow fonder. One of my clients became bored of her morning spin session on her bike at home. So we changed it up for a couple of weeks and had her go into a different room of the house, grab a set of dumbbells, and focus on strength training. After two weeks of doing resistance training a few times a week, she missed her spin workout and was ready to go back to the bike!
You risk overuse of certain muscles
Performing the same routine every day can lead to excess soreness or strain. Using the same muscle groups over and over again doesn’t leave any time for your muscles to repair and grow. I recommend alternating days training different muscle groups so that you give your body time to recover.
Doing too much of any type of exercise, without adequate rest time, runs the risk of causing pain or injury. Running every day is a lot of impact on the knees and doing full-body strength training on consecutive days can overwork your muscles and not give them time to recover.
Before working with me, one of my clients was riding her stationary bike every single day and started complaining of hip pain. She ended up having to go to physical therapy to loosen up her hips because they’d become so tight from biking daily. Not only was it important that she add stretching to her routine to combat the repetitive movement, but we began breaking up her spin sessions with other types of movement to give her lower body a break.
You may hit a plateau
You could potentially stop seeing results if the workout becomes too easy for you. For many, the whole point of exercise is to see and feel physical results. If you’ve been consistently performing the same routine, chances are it will start to get easier as you increase your physical fitness and your body gets used to the movement. For certain workouts like strength training, I recommend increasing the number of sets, reps or the weight. For cardio workouts, try interval training or add a completely different type of exercise into your routine to keep the body guessing and challenge your muscles.
For example, another one of my clients had been doing Zumba for a few months. Initially, she saw weight-loss results, but after three months she seemed to have plateaued. In the beginning, she was sore and needed a day off in between sessions. But after a month of doing the same workout, she upped it to five days a week and still wasn't seeing the scale budge. Her body had become used to the movement and she stopped seeing progress. So we focused on Pilates to get into the deep core muscles — something that she wasn’t focusing on in her Zumba classes! — and she began to see positive changes in her body again.
So how often is it OK to perform my favorite workout?
I would recommend performing a workout you absolutely love approximately three times a week, skipping a day in between. On these days where you’re not doing that workout, try to move your body in a different way. You need variety both physically and mentally in order to stay motivated and keep seeing results. And by exploring other types of movement, you may just find some other forms of exercise that you enjoy, too!