Happy guys doing yoga

Aliza B., SUNY Empire State College, New York

Let’s face it: Doing the same thing every day could get a little boring and result in us lacking the motivation to exercise. Changing up your workouts not only helps keep your mind engaged in exercise, but also it can boost your fitness level as you add new physical stresses to the body.

When we first start exercising, whether it’s lifting weights, using the elliptical machine, running, or yoga, we may notice a change in our bodies. Muscles may become more toned and flexible, and our weight may change. Over time, as our body adapts to the stresses we’re placing on it (exercise), it stops changing as much. This is a good time to start stressing it differently so that our bodies are challenged by different types of activity.

Here are four ways you can change up your workouts:

1. Increase the intensity.

Working harder over the same amount of time will increase your energy expenditure and boost your metabolism, giving you more bang for your buck. For example, if you normally use the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and cover three miles of distance in that time, try aiming for four miles in the same amount of time. The increased effort will get your heart pumping and the sweat dripping!

2. Increase the weight.

If you normally perform sets of 15 repetitions with a given weight, increase the amount of weight so you can only comfortably perform six to eight reps. This stresses the muscle tissue differently and helps you gain more strength.

3. Increase the repetitions.

If you normally lift heavier weights, decrease the weight and do more reps. Try 20–30 reps. You may feel your muscles burning as you get up into the higher reps. That’s OK—you’re building endurance in them.

4. Change the activity.

Do you lift weights all the time but don’t stretch much? Try yoga. Are you a full-time yogi but you never lift or do cardio? Try to add in a bit of both. And for the cardio lovers who never touch a weight, try lifting. Doing different activities helps keep our muscles balanced and our minds engaged. You might find doing something different is really challenging because your body isn’t used to it. Use that challenge as an opportunity to grow, both mentally and physically.