At first glance, routines sound like a good thing, and they can be. They can help us establish new habits. They can even give us comfort at times. But sometimes routines can work against us.
Say your routine is to stop somewhere for a few drinks after work everyday. It might help you wind down, but it might also mean you’re on your way to becoming an alcoholic. It could also get you arrested for DUI.
You may have heard the term emotional overeater. This is someone whose routine is to turn to food for comfort when they’re feeling stressed. Obviously, this can lead to being overweight and obesity. So you can see that routines aren’t always helpful.
But what about a healthy routine, like going to the gym every day, and doing your regular workout? How could this possibly lead to problems?
Actually, I’ve seen it happen several different ways. While running is an awesome activity with tons of great benefits, I’ve know many people, including myself, that ran themselves right into chronic injuries.
Shin splints, inflammation of the plantar (lower) surface of the foot are quite common, especially in newer runners trying to run too many days, or do too many miles. My own issue was with ITB syndrome (inflammation of the side of a tendon on the side of the knee).
Another common problem occurs with someone who’s been exercising for awhile, but just doing the same thing over and over, never changing things up. At first they get pretty decent results, primarily because doing any program is usual better than doing nothing.
But after awhile, their body starts getting used to the routine, and it gets easier because they’re stronger and more efficient at that workout. At that point, they can do the same work, but will burn fewer calories. This is how you can exercise regularly, but still gain weight.
That’s why in Biggest Loser, we always try to ramp things up over the 12 weeks, regularly changing the exercises and the level of intensity. That way the people never get used to the work, and it always continues to be difficult. This burns the most calories and works very well.
Experienced weight lifters and body builders also know they need to change things up if they want to continue stimulating new muscle growth. A good rule of thumb is to do things in 3-4 week cycles, with 5-6 weeks being about the longest you should ever do the same routine.
I like to change things up more often than that, but at 51, my latest goals are simply to stay as lean as possible, and focus on things like explosiveness and endurance, which help me with my grappling and martial arts.
Finally, changing it up keeps things new and interesting. A group of us trained last year for a 12 mile trail run called Tough Mudder, and it was very cool, because we’d never done it before.
A stream that stops moving usually becomes stale and stagnant. Personally, I think it’s much more fun to be around a stream that’s still flowing, unless of course, you have to run through it!
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