Why is Mixed Training So Good?
Humans are interesting creatures; we’ve become the dominant species on our planet, explored all seven continents, and now, turned our endless curiosity to technological developments. Despite all of this impressive exploration, we tend to stick to what we know in everyday life. Most of us will run the same route most days, or do the same gym routine each morning, or the same yoga class each week. We’re creatures of habit and we can’t deny it!
When it comes to exercise, our habits bring both pros and cons. It’s fantastic to get into the habit of exercising every morning, and that is indeed where it’s crucial to have a routine, because to get to any level of fitness requires consistent training over a prolonged period of time. However, what’s not fantastic, is running the same route at the same pace, day in, day out. Or for that matter, doing the same gym routine, over and over again. This kind of exercise routine only ends one way; an exercise plateau.
A plateau is a stagnation in fitness levels increasing, muscles developing, or even fat burning. Getting into an exercise plateau is extremely frustrating and demotivating, and let’s face it, it’s hard enough as it is dragging yourself out of bed each morning to go for a run or to the gym, let alone if you realise that effort will bring no reward! That’s why it’s great to mix up your training, to pre-emptively prohibit any stagnation, and therefore, reap the maximum reward.
If you’re a gym enthusiast, there are endless ways in which you can mix things up, but here are just a few suggestions to get you started;
- If you’re used to training single muscle groups at a time, try mixing up your sessions into push and pull days. So, one day; chest, shoulders and triceps, and another day back and biceps. Or even try full body workouts (making sure you have at least one rest day in between), and who knows, if this is your thing then maybe you’ll get into Crossfit? Don’t be put off my it’s cult-ish reputation, it can actually be good for you!
- Alternatively, you could mix in bodyweight training and some resistant band work…no, your muscles won’t evaporate overnight, don’t panic. It can be a great way to add in new, dynamic exercises to your routines that can help to increase power. And again, if you really start to enjoy this, then why not look at getting into Calisthenics…Ninja Warrior here you come!
- If you’re on the more stubborn side of things and don’t fancy such drastic changes, then why not simply include more supersets and drop sets in your workouts, just to mix things up? There’s nothing worse than sitting on a bench for hours on end bored out of your mind.
If cardio training is more your thing, then you too have plenty of options to break out of your routine;
- Mix your specialism; if you’re a cyclist, why not go on the rower once or twice a week instead of on the bike? It uses similar muscle groups and works your heart just as hard. Similarly, if you’re a runner, hop on the bike, or even on the cross trainer. Mixing your training is a great way to prevent plateau’s, and once again, ensures you don’t get bored.
- Interval training. Yes, you may groan but interval training works, so suck it up… Changing your heart rate from low to high repeatedly through some kind of burst of energy, usually sprints, is a great way to improve your fitness. And the best thing about interval training (yes you did just read that correctly) is the variety it brings; one session can be 20 second sprints with 40 second rests, and the next can be minute long bursts with two or three minute rests in between…sounds fun, right?! And if you really, really hate interval training, well then, why not force yourself to go to a HiiT class at the gym? That way you have absolutely no choice but to do the interval exercises, otherwise you’ll be shouted at by the PTs – delightful hey?
Aside from preventing exercise plateaus, mixing up your training is also a great way to build up different muscle groups, increase your cardiovascular fitness or go from just building strength to building explosive power as well. So, push yourself out of your comfort zone, mix up your normal routines and reap the benefits in return!