Workout articles, healthy lifestyle tips, and fitness advice.

Here's Why You Should Mix Up Your Workout Routine

woman on elliptical machine at Planet Fitness
Incorporating new exercises can challenge you both physically and mentally.

by Mary Lambkin

Looking to take your fitness journey to the next level? The best way to stay consistent at the gym is to make fitness a habit. Once your workout is built into your regular schedule, it becomes much easier to find time to exercise.

While you should go to the gym regularly, that doesn't mean you have to do the same thing every time. It's common to head for the same machines or follow the same routine each time you hit the gym — but why not mix up your workout?

By occasionally switching things up, you can maintain your exercise habit but avoid doing workouts on "autopilot." Incorporating new exercises can challenge you both physically and mentally, keeping you motivated and working toward your goals.

Physical Benefits

To put it simply, a fitness routine that includes different types of exercise (also known as cross-training) can make you a stronger and more well-rounded gym-goer. Cross-training is often associated with a reduction of injury risk and can help you maintain strength and stability from head to toe. For example, a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that runners who performed 48 squats per week (in addition to their normal running routine) witnessed "significant improvements" in their running abilities.

To reduce injuries and maximize your workout, it's a good idea to keep your body guessing. Repeating the same exercise to the point of pure exhaustion will not yield better results than repeating it to a challenging but healthy level. In fact, doing the same workout for an extended period of time, or for an extended series of days, will only increase your likelihood of getting injured!

When you mix up your workout, you distribute the "stress" of exercise evenly across your whole body, which helps you avoid wearing out one muscle group without activating others. As a result, you should be able to work out more often and for longer periods of time. According to the American Council on Exercise, cross-training is especially important for runners who frequently suffer from overuse injuries in their legs. By replacing one run a week with a strength training session, you could prolong your running career!

Mental Benefits

Switching things up can keep exercise exciting and challenging — two things that can help you stay motivated.

Instead of mindlessly moving through the same gym routine you've been doing for months, add some creativity to your workout by trying out new movements and different equipment. Although the thought of doing something new may be a bit intimidating at first, you'll probably find the change refreshing and rewarding after just a few minutes.

How to Mix Up Your Workout

Ready to add some variety to your workout, but not sure where to begin? Start by changing up your usual routine with one additional exercise. For example, if your go-to gym session is 25 minutes on the elliptical, try "subbing in" a five-minute core workout after 20 minutes on the machine. Every time you go to the gym, add in a little more variety until you're ready to take the leap and do an entirely new workout.

Your ultimate goal? Get to the point where you're mixing up strength training, cardio work, and stretching techniques during each visit to the gym. If you feel like you need help planning some variety into your routine, try the PE@PF Design Your Own Program class!

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.