You've been working out for a while, and it's starting to feel comfortable -- too comfortable. It's time to make it more challenging again.
Revving things back up is a good idea if you recognize yourself in any of these five scenarios:
1. You do the same moves over and over.
When you first begin exercising, it can be tough to find an activity you love. Once you do, you want to keep at it, which is great -- but you also need to switch it up.
“Your body adapts quickly, sometimes in just a matter of a week, to whatever exercise you’re doing,” says Janice Clark, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. “Once that happens, your body doesn’t have to work as hard, and you burn fewer calories.”
The solution: First, make sure you have a well-rounded fitness program that includes aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching. By doing these three things, you’ll naturally give your body variety.
Then, every week to 4 weeks, change one thing about your workouts. For example, ride the stationary bike instead of running on the treadmill. Push yourself a bit more in one of your cardio workouts, or try a new strength exercise.
2. You’re talking with friends the entire time.
Having a workout buddy can encourage and motivate you, but the time you spend together is for getting fitter. If you can easily carry on a conversation while exercising, you’re not working hard enough, which will make it tougher to achieve your goals, Clark says.
The solution: Don't dismiss your buddy, but save the major discussions for the coffee shop.
When you exercise at a moderate level, the idea is to work hard enough so that you can only get out a few choppy sentences, not easily carry on a full conversation. For vigorous intensity, you should only be able to squeeze out a few words before needing a breath.
3. You’re engrossed in TV, a magazine, or something online.
Exercising while watching TV, or reading on cardio machines, can help motivate you to move and even exercise longer. But it can be difficult to get to and maintain the right intensity with these distractions, Clark says.
The solution: Clark recommends doing most of your workouts without the added entertainment. If you must watch TV or read a book, check in every few minutes to make sure you’re at least working at a moderate intensity.