Diversifying my workout

Since high school I’ve been a self-proclaimed gym rat. I am not a fan of team sports, lack great hand-eye coordination and do not generally enjoy exercising outside during the warmer months. This laundry list of limitations left me staring at a gym membership.

WeightsIt turns out that the air conditioned climate, complete with TVs and an endless supply of water within reach is just what I needed to get active.

Not too long ago I noticed  that I had been doing pretty much the same routine all these years. It was a combination of 45 minutes of moderate to decently intense cardio (usually running on the treadmill or elliptical), 10 minutes of stretching, 15 to 20 minutes of abs finished off with 15 minutes or so of weights.

This is nothing to scoff at. It is a balanced workout (I think…?) and typically left me with a sweat. However, I noticed I started to plateau after a while. The runs that used to leave me panting and clenching my side now barely made me break a sweat. Crunches that once caused me to wake up with a sore stomach the next morning were gradually a piece of cake.

I realized I wasn’t varying or increasing the intensity of my workouts.

Flat-belly workout courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness.

Flat-belly workout courtesy of POPSUGAR Fitness.

My goal as of late has been to change this. I downloaded the POPSUGAR Fitness app, which I open every day at the gym for new ideas and routines, and started tracking my workouts with MyFitnessPal and MapMyRun. These apps help me stay focused and quickly identify when I’m slipping back into my old ways. I’ve challenged myself to do interval runs at an incline to  amp up the intensity of my daily cardio fix. And, I’ve started mixing in more weights and circuit training.

So far the results have been great. I’ve noticed my endurance has shot up and my muscles are more sculpted, thanks to the weight training. The best outcome is that I’m having more fun at the gym because I’m not doing the same tired routine again, and again.

Today I pushed myself to try two new workout plans, a flat-belly workout that combines cardio and crunchless abs and a circuit training workout for legs. I felt them target muscles that I hadn’t hit before and push others further than I normally do. It was also just fun to try a new set of exercises. I lost track of time in the gym because I was working to get a grasp on the new routines.

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