Once you find a workout that works for you, it can be hard to switch up your routine. Why mess with a good thing?Well, because if one of your fitness goals is weight loss, too much of the same thing can actually cause you to plateau. And changing the way you challenge your body can help you stick with fitness longer, according to research from the University of Florida. In the study, exercise scientists found that people who changed their fitness routine every two weeks were more likely to stick with exercise over the course of two months than people who followed the same routine.
“Your body adapts to your training, so you need to keep it interested in what you’re doing,” explains Nike master trainer Kirsty Godso. “It’s not about doing a new workout every day—instead, it’s about applying some consistency in the styles of the workouts you’re doing in order to make some progression and see results, but also to know when to change it up so you can keep pushing your body into new training territories.”
But that’s easier said than done. If you like to run, it’s easier to just run than to force yourself into an unfamiliar workout. If you like to spin, how do you even know what workout compliments that kind of exercise? A good rule of thumb, says Godso, is switching up your strength-training program every four six weeks, and changing high-intensity interval workouts every single session.
If you’re into a specific type of workout, follow these general guidelines for shaking up your routine and finding the best weight-loss exercises for your body.
1. IF YOU USUALLY RUN, TRY ADDING SPRINT INTERVALS
Steady-state cardio is great for fitness and weight loss—one study found that people who did cardio lost three and a half more pounds of fat over eight months compared to people who did resistance training. But staying at the same pace all the time won’t challenge your body or provide the push you need for weight loss.
That’s where high-intensity interval training comes in. “Try adding in some interval sprints on the treadmill, such as 30 seconds all-out, then a two-minute recovery jog, then repeat. Go for 10 rounds!” suggests Godso. “This is a great way to really push your heart rate to another place.”
2. IF YOU USUALLY DO YOGA, TRY HIGH-INTENSITY BODYWEIGHT INTERVALS
Yoga isn’t just a way to chill out. “It’s an undeniable benefit for your training and ideally should always be part of your weekly workout schedule,” says Godso, who teaches a class called PYRO TINGS, which combines yoga with high-intensity bodyweight intervals for the best weight-loss exercises in one. “It’s the perfect way to work up a sweat, get the blood flowing, and give back length and breath to the body.”
Try taking a power yoga or hot yoga class to switch things up. Both are great options for people who like more intense workouts, and studies show that yoga can lead to increased muscle tone, impr
3. IF YOU USUALLY STRENGTH TRAIN, TRY MIXING UP YOUR REPS AND SETS
If you’re lifting weights regularly and get to the point where a certain number of reps or sets feel easy, doing the same thing won’t add any more muscle—or help you shed any more weight. “Try adding challenges to your regular program like AMRAP, in which you do ‘as many reps as possible’ before you can’t do anything one; or EMOM (every minute on the minute), in which you choose three exercises, perform a set number of repetitions as quickly as you can at the start of the minute, then rest for the remainder of the minute before starting the next exercise and repeating them all three to five time,” says Godso.
Women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended than when they didn’t lift, according to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Plus, women who performed fewer reps with heavier weights burned nearly twice as many calories as those who did more reps with lower weights, a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercises found.
4. IF YOU USUALLY TAKE CYCLING CLASSES, TRY A DIFFERENT FORM OF CARDIO
Mixing up your cardio will continue to improve your performance and your endurance—and that will keep your metabolism from slowing down and help your body burn more calories. “Our bodies needs to try different forms of cardio if we want to keep demanding a response from it!” says Godso.
Plus, different types of cardio work different muscles—cycling and running work your legs, of course, but others can target muscle groups like your arms and your core. “Try adding in some more rowing, ski erg, treadmill sprints, battle ropes, or assault bike work.” Like cycling class, these cardio workouts will spike your heart rate, but they’ll also keep you from getting bored.
“Adding in variety like this is a great way to keep you mentally invested in your workouts,” says Godso. “Try and reposition these exercises as being a fun challenge in your head and track your progression—that’s always a great way to get more invested in them.” (Dance your way fit with High-Intensity Dance Cardio, the first-ever socanomics DVD!)
5. IF YOU USUALLY DO LOW-INTENSITY CLASSES LIKE PILATES OR BARRE, TRY TRX
Pilates and barre are great bodyweight workouts, but those tiny muscle-building movements might not be enough for you to see weight-loss results. “If you enjoy these workouts, try adding in some TRX to your training so you can focus on bodyweight strength in a different format,” says Godso. A study commissioned by the American Council of Exercise found people who performed 60 minutes of TRX training three times per week for eight weeks showed significant decreases in waist circumference and body fat percentage.
“Some of my favorite TRX moves are single-leg pistol squats, TRX pike variations and feet-elevated TRX push-ups,” says Godso.
6. IF YOU USUALLY DO HIIT, TRY RESTORATIVE YOGA.
While HIIT has countless benefits, it can’t be the only workout you do. “You don’t want to overdo HIIT, and often people miss out on most of the benefits of it because they take it in the wrong doses,” says Godso. You should keep HIIT workouts to a max of three times per week. “Adding in some extra recovery such as yoga will help you restore your body and get more power from it in your next workouts.”
Even restorative yoga—which focuses on relaxation and stress reduction—can aid weight loss. Research published in the American Journal of Managed Care found that people who practiced restorative yoga lost more subcutaneous (under-the-skin) fat than people who simply stretched with the same regularity. Plus, they kept it off longer.