Working out alone is already hard, then do it for 6 weeks or more and we are all going crazy! You might also feel like you are in a rut with movement or training. If you keep doing the same few things each week, not only are you probably bored but you are not likely to be stressing the body enough to increase endurance or strength.
You don’t have to run out (jk, order online) and purchase more exercise equipment to switch it up! But I also think you would have a hard time finding anything in stock at this point. The key variables of exercise that we can manipulate are all that you need to be challenged enough to improve and keep your interest.
The basic description of these variables are often referred to at the “FITT Principle”. FITT stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type. Within these variables, there are subcategories that you can dial in as well. I won’t go too deep into detail for this blog, but here are countless ways to make your workouts more fun and productive.
Number of days per week: I think this is a pretty straight forward section, but there are two things to consider. If you add another day into the week, would that serve your goals and how your body feels OR would removing a day of exercise in the week serve you better? More might seem like it’s best, but that is not always the case. An extra day of recovery may give you the extra fuel that you need to up the intensity.
Run, cycle and swim pace: Shoot for a pace that is slightly faster than where you are “comfortable”. Know that you might not be able to go as far and need more recovery time, but by pushing that threshold you will start to see improvement. Make it a game, keep an eye on your watch and don’t let the number drop!
Amount of weight, reps and sets: I think this is the variable that people tend to gravitate towards tweaking first. “If I was doing 3 sets of 10 reps, now I will do 3 sets of 12 reps!” Sure, you could but that’s still slightly mundane. What if you chose a moderate weight and worked until failure? That is a very different input than a set of 10. You may also surprise yourself when you can do 2 or 3 TIMES that many.
Time under tension: Tempo and pause variations in lifting are a quick way to feel the BURN but also work on form. If you tend to lose form in something like a squat, moving down and back up slowly allows for more body control and awareness. Also, more fatigue and pretty quickly. If you try these, start with at least half the reps you normally perform. You’ll see :)
Novelty or challenge of exercise: Performing a movement that is new to you can always make a workout harder! I find that for most adults, this is balance related exercises or one-legged movements. I have plenty of options for you at the Spectrum Performance YouTube channel ! Another option I love, pick up something relatively heavy at your house and walk around the block while holding it. Seems easy. It’s not.
Working time: Again, this one is pretty apparent for most people. Longer may be better, it just depends on your goal. Shorter would probably be more of a challenge for most, as long as in that working time you are working harder than usual. But do keep in mind, if you start switching up intensity and type, the working time will likely decrease.
Resting time: Many people picture “conditioning” as moving for 30-45 min straight, think something like spin. But adding rest in your workout, can actually make it HARDER. Enter, interval training. If you rest, you recharge a bit and can push hard with each working interval. You can also think about how long you rest- equal to the working time would be more fatiguing and intense than resting for 2-3x the working time.
Recovery time between days: This goes along with the days per week section up top, but if you are training 6-7 days per week, taking an extra day off will help you recover and rebuild your body to then have a kick ass workout the next day. If you tend to workout 2x/week, adding another workout day could be helpful!
Type- you don’t have to change the type of exercise you are performing, particularly if you LOVE it and have a goal you are working towards. However, mixing in other types of movement a handful of times per month can add a nice variety for body and mind. Here's a hint, we usually want to do what we are good at, while something we struggle at is often where our time would be well spent :)
Conditioning- Long slow distance run,bike, swim (LSD), Intervals or speed work
Weight training & Body weight- HIIT, Crossfit, Powerlifting, Weightlifting, Body Building
Sport Specific Training
Yoga, Pilates, Dance
I hope this has already sparked a few ideas for you while training at home. Hopefully we are all released back into the wild soon, but for now stay safe and stay home! Keep in mind, you can always tweak these variables to harness the most desired results even after The Quarantine!
It is easy to get stuck in a exercise and training routine that becomes mundane, especially while stuck at home.
You can quickly make your workouts more fun and productive by tweaking a few variables!
The FITT Principle gives us a very basic outline of identifying the variables to tweak: frequency, intensity, time, type.
Still not sure what to do? Send an email to info@SpectrumPerformance.fit and let’s schedule a virtual session to talk about your specific goals and questions! I offer custom programming based on your goals, fitness level and available equipment!
Thanks for reading,
Dr. Jackie, DPT, OCS