A couple weeks ago I started a new “Kick My Own Patootie” six-week plan. My goal is to put on a little muscle (or at least maintain what I have) while leaning out a bit at the same time and getting stronger. I had been been coasting for a while with my workouts which is fine in the overall scheme of things. I cycle like that…high intensity workouts for several weeks 6-8) then a week or three of less intense workouts. As usual, I’m using myself as a lab experiment, trying to challenge my body in new and different ways.
Over the weekend I did something I’d never done before. I dug out a backpack, put one of my 20lb dumbbells in it and headed down to the track. Since this is my first time walking/running with weight, I took it easy and alternated fast walking a quarter-mile, then running (well more like shuffling) a quarter-mile. I just did two miles total…4 sets of each. I could have done more but I’ve learned when asking my body to do something unfamiliar it’s best to give it a little taste then start demanding more as I go along.
Adding new things to your rotation helps keep boredom at bay but it also serves to challenge your body in different ways. In this case variety really is the spice of life. It keeps you engaged mentally (you can’t just go through the motions, you have to think and be methodical because it’s unfamiliar), it stresses muscles in different ways which leads to better results and it gives joints a break from repetitive use.
You don’t have to find a series of exercises someone else created. You don’t need a magazine or internet article. You can make up your own challenges. You know when you’re working hard and when you’re not. Creating new elements to add to your program keeps your head in the game and besides, nobody knows your body like you do!