8 Ways to Mix Up Your Workout

We all know the feeling of a bike or running shoes taunting you from the corner of the room, “I bet you won’t work out today, wussy.” Routines tend to get old quickly, so the solution to your problem may just be to mix up your training. Not only does your mind need a break from time to time, but your body can also benefit from diversity of exercise. Since training should be productive AND fun, mixing it up can be the thing you need to quiet your running shoes’ tireless nagging or your bike’s annoying persistence. It also provides an opportunity to involve friends and family in your daily workout. Read on for some ideas:

1. Go for a hike

Fill up a backpack with sandwiches, frozen burritos or trail mix and go explore. With a little research you should be able to find a great hiking spot near you that begs to be walked through. Maybe there is even a trail you commonly run/mountain bike that you could share with your friends in a more serene atmosphere. Go out there with the mindset that you will explore, not train, and it will make for a great day.

2. Hit the gym

Strength training is vital to avoiding injury. As a one-dimensional athlete you often ignore entire muscle groups essential to balance, and their weakness often leads to injury when you step on a rock the wrong way or can't get your bike fit just right. Here is a simple workout for any endurance athlete looking to change it up and strengthen their neglected muscle groups:

15 to 20 minute warm up on stationary bike, elliptical, treadmill or stair climber

Stretch for 5 minutes (hamstrings, glutes, quads, IT band, groins)

Do this circuit 4 times, 8 to 15 reps each:

- Right leg lunges

- Left leg lunges

- Leg lifts

- Box jumps

- Back extensions (can do laying on stomach as well)

- Right leg 1-leg squats (with or without medicine ball)

- Left leg 1-leg squats

- Left, center, right side crunches

- Swiss ball leg curls

15 to 20 minute cool down on stationary bike, elliptical, treadmill or stair climber

Stretch and use a foam roller

As you can see, there are tons of different exercises available on YouTube. Look for ones that involve balance and design your own program.

3. Organize a day in the park

A group of friends and I once played walking-only ultimate frisbee, and it was a blast. Getting together to play basketball, soccer, frisbee, football or anything else you can do in the park is a great way to bring other people into your world of exercise. If you are having trouble motivating your friends…..

4. Bar Leagues

Softball, soccer, volleyball, kickball, dodgeball – the list is endless. Join a league!

5. (For Runners) Borrow a mountain bike or road bike

Be careful, you may like it so much that you have to buy your own.

6. (For Bikers) You know those running shoes you own?

Going for a run doesn’t necessarily mean sprinting the whole way, so don’t get discouraged. You probably don't run often, so you may not be very good, but its a great way to change it up. Be sure to have a meal with protein, drink a lot of water, and get the Ibuprofen ready for after your first run, it can be a bit of a doozy. Recovery is always important, but it’s especially important after doing something you’re not used to. That way you’ll be able to walk down the stairs tomorrow (walk down them backwards if it’s that bad).

7. Try climbing

Check out a climbing gym nearby. Its accessible for everyone, and most gyms offer a free instructional class to get you the safety information you need. Your desire to challenge yourself while training will be met with endless opportunities. If you are afraid of heights, take baby steps at first and check out the gym’s bouldering wall.

8. Yoga

Yoga increases flexibility, uses balance to strengthen your core and legs, emphasizes meditation, and lets you lay down sometimes in the middle of your workout (which you just can’t do on a run. Well, you could….). Yoga classes are popping up everywhere (I’ll bet Whole Foods is considering having classes in the produce aisle), so check one out! I have to be honest, I personally think hot yoga is unnecessary and I sweat enough as it is. I may just be mad at it because after ten minutes I am terrified that I will drown face down in a quarter-inch puddle of my own sweat, but it just seems unnecessary to me. Sigh. Good for you if you can do it.

There is an endless list of things you can do that challenge the same energy systems you use in your endurance sport. At the same time, you’ll strengthen muscle groups that you don’t use often, which is very important. It’s essential to start slow with your mix-up workouts and build from there. It wouldn’t make sense to attempt a 15-mile run on your first day of running, so start slow. After a fun day of mixing it up, you should be ready to get back on the horse and enjoy your normal routine.
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loi duflot
Friday, December 5th, 2014 at 2:01AM
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