Variety is the spice of life, but it won’t help you build muscle or lose weight.
Current workout trends are all about variety. Most popular workout platforms offer hundreds, if not thousands of workouts and entice members with a new workout every day. But what if we told you that too much variety can actually sabotage your fitness or weight loss goals?
According to a recent article in Women’s Health, while mixing it up might make exercise feel fresh and interesting, keeping your body guessing in this way can also cause muscle confusion. In order to achieve your fitness goals, your workouts have to do more than burn calories - you need to be building muscle, and improving your technique with whatever exercises you’re doing.
This just isn’t possible if you’re switching it up too often.
Changing the way you workout in order to achieve your fitness goals
So what does this mean if you’re looking for ways to stay fit during pregnancy, or are currently postpartum and trying to get back in shape after childbirth? Regardless of where you’re at in your motherhood journey, the key to achieving your goals is all about patience, balance, and consistency.
You need to give your body time to adapt to a workout and get stronger in order to see results. This means sticking with a workout for six to eight weeks (sometimes even ten weeks!). Even with this gradual approach to building strength and endurance, rest days are still important. This might mean alternating between your workout program and a more restorative form of movement, like yoga, on rest days.
When it comes to maintaining consistency with your workout program, there’s a bit of nuance involved. Fundamentally, the workout is the same: the same moves in the same order. What’s different is how you challenge yourself during the workout. Micro-progressions, essentially choosing different ways to level up as you get stronger, are a critical component for avoiding a workout plateau.
Avoiding the dreaded workout plateau
The fitness concept at work here is called progressive overload. If you keep doing the same workout and lifting the same amount of weight, your body eventually adapts and you stop improving. So naturally, by increasing the weight (or the frequency, intensity, or the number of repetitions) in your workout, you will be creating enough of an extra challenge that you continue to get stronger.
Here are some of the ways you can add a new challenge to the same workout program:
Increase the weight you’re lifting.
Decrease the amount of rest time in between sets.
Slow down certain exercises, like squats, to make them more challenging.
Play with your range of motion. Try going lower in a lunge or squat.
Change your stance to work different muscles. Try moving from a mid-stance squat to a wide squat.
Progressive overload is a concept most frequently applied to strength-focused workouts, but the same concept holds true for a variety of exercises. For example, with cardio endurance, you might increase the length of your workout or the distance traveled when running or cycling.
By consistently challenging yourself with small adjustments to your reps, sets, weights, or rest time, you increase the intensity of your workout. These little increases create a sweet spot where you’re overloading the body with the perfect amount to keep building muscle or endurance.
Increasing intensity and listening to your body
If you finish every rep of an exercise with great form and at the end of it all, feel like you’ve still got more in the tank, then it’s time to dial it up. The goal is to give it your all and be begging for the break during every set - you shouldn’t feel like you can handle even one more rep.
If you can easily do more than 10 repetitions of an exercise with perfect form at your current weight, it might be time to move on to something heavier. The first time you go up in weights during your workout, you may need more rest between sets, as well as a couple of days of rest before tackling the workout again. For mamas with a baby on board, we don’t recommend lifting more than 15lbs overhead during pregnancy.
For both pregnant and postpartum mamas, listening to your body is key when increasing the intensity. Getting a good night’s sleep plays a big part in feeling ready to progress your workout, and we all know that can be challenging both as your pregnancy progresses, and in the first couple years of life with a baby.
Then add in things like eating well, all the energy required to grow another human or to raise one - and, well, you may have to back off some days (or even weeks) and then pick it back up when you’re feeling closer to 100 percent. Gradual is the keyword when it comes to progressive overload. So feel free to take it slow, mama. Perfect your form, master every rep, and then start adding weight or additional reps. Don’t rush it. Always give your body time to rest between workouts, and scale back the intensity if you feel very sore.
Chances are you won’t notice changes as immediately with this type of training, but it’s the safest way to build strength and is particularly well suited to mamas who are building their fitness back up after pregnancy.
Progressive overload workouts inside Studio Bloom
At Studio Bloom, we are all about giving mamas options for creating more intensity in a workout. We believe in meeting your body where it’s at today, and trusting your gut when it comes to what you can handle and when it’s time to level up. That’s why our workouts always feature modifications for taking it up or down a notch.
You can always create your own progressive overload regime by choosing an easily modifiable strength or cardio workout to repeat for several weeks or a month. However, if you’re new to this style of working out or just prefer something more customized, we recently launched a brand new program that is deliberately designed to do this for you called The Mindful Sweat.
The Mindful Sweat is a 4-week immersive that fuses Bloom’s commitment to intentional movement with MELT Project’s boxing-focused strength training workouts. Finding the safest and most effective way to progress your strength can be tricky, which is where The Mindful Sweat shines. Each week consists of four strength workouts and a choice of two cardio sessions, all ranging between 30 to 60 minutes of work time so that you can tailor your program to your schedule.
What’s more, coach Angelica Segura gives you all the options you need to customize your routine and make it the most effective way to help you meet your fitness goals. It’s like having a personal trainer in your pocket!
You can try the first week of The Mindful Sweat for FREE when you sign-up for a free trial today.
Already a member? Login and start sweating.
More benefits to harnessing repetition for workout results
Workout programs that take advantage of repetition are great for building strength and achieving any weight loss goals you might have. But they have additional benefits as well, like the ability to be incredibly intentional about your movement because you know the exercises and have time to practice.
Focus on the workout
When you’re more familiar with the workout, you can truly focus on what you’re doing. Slow down the movements, and be precise and intentional as you tackle each interval.
Master the movement
Practice makes perfect. By repeating exercises often, you have a chance to really fine-tune your form. For example, Studio Bloom’s The Mindful Sweat includes many opportunities to perfect common boxing techniques, like jabs, cross, hook, and uppercut.
Become more in-tune with your body
By primarily doing the same workout, it’s easier to distinguish when you’re having an off day because of lack of sleep or poor nutrition. For example, say that normally you really enjoy the workout. You feel like your body can handle the exercises, and you finish feeling accomplished but not totally wiped out. By eliminating the workout as a suspect in what’s throwing you off, it’s easier to figure out what might be going on with your body - and to listen to whatever it’s telling you.
The bottom line
Too much variation in your workout program could be undermining your fitness goals. Studies have shown that progressive overload is a safe, effective technique for building lean, toned muscle. Workout programs that utilize this technique, like The Mindful Sweat, can be especially beneficial for busy mamas who want to simplify their decision-making.
Take advantage of having a personal trainer in your pocket and simply head to Studio Bloom for a great workout that helps you achieve your goals - no surprises, just sweating with intention.
Inside Studio Bloom you’ll find nearly 300 workouts to choose from. No matter where you’re at in your motherhood journey - trying to conceive, prenatal or postnatal - or what your fitness goals are, there are specialized workouts to meet your needs.