Variety is the spice of life

Often exercise routines are exactly that — routine. Whether it’s clocking into your favourite fitness class or running a regular outdoors route, it’s clear to see how easy it is to stick with what you know. Yes, there’s certainly benefit to reap from regular exercise, but variation is also key. We’ve touched on the benefits of mixing it up in a previous blog, but here’s a recap on why variety is not only the spice of life but also of fitness:

  • Continuous progression: The more you do an activity, the better you get at it. This is because your muscles are great at adapting — good news for ease of effort, but bad news for personal progression. Introducing new exercise will help avoid reaching a fitness plateau; making your muscles work in unfamiliar ways will push them harder, leading to more calories burned.
  • Engage the mind: Your brain is a muscle that needs exercising too; changing your workout challenges the mind as well as the body.
  • Prevent overuse injuries: Repetitive strain injuries happen when the same muscles are subjected to the same types of strain. Varying the type of exercise you do will help avoid this by giving certain muscles a break whilst you focus on others.
  • Build new muscles: Practising new movement patterns will allow you to engage your muscles in different ways, and build new ones too. This can help avoid muscular imbalance in the body.
  • Meet new training buddies: Trying new training methods allows you to connect with different people that share the same interests as you.
  • Liven up your training: Learning a new skill can help beat workout boredom, make training time go quicker and re-introduce excitement into your sessions.

Hack the creature of habit in you

There are countless ways to re-vamp and reinvigorate your routine; try altering your current cardio by playing with the location, distance, pace and intensity of it. If you favour running on a treadmill, experiment with venturing outdoors — navigating uneven surfaces and weather conditions will provide new challenges, plus there’s the bonus of varying views!

Seeking a new skill to add to your schedule? There’s no shortage of activities to experiment with:

Bouldering

Get a grip and give bouldering a go. Bouldering works your brain and body; pick your brains as you problem solve your route across the low rock wall formations. Whilst more conventional exercises such as running and cycling involve repetition to increase fitness, bouldering involves a higher level of dynamic, complex movements. It requires you to be physically and mentally switched on at all times so that you can react and adapt to how your body contacts the climbing surface.

Our ambassador Tom Randall explains that “Bouldering is a fantastic sport to stay in shape whether you’re 18 or 50. It’s incredibly effective at increasing strength and conditioning of the body from tip to toe because almost all muscles in the body are used during bouldering! In particular, you’ll see a significant improvement in shoulder and arm strength and a much more stable core. As well as being a “strength” based activity, it also has significant cardiovascular benefits.”

Beginners and experts can climb side by side, as the wall grips are colour coded; this coding allows you to easily track your progression, whilst a mixed ability environment is a great way to socialise and pick up tips. If you’re seeking adrenaline sport, bouldering is a great way to achieve a rush in a safe environment — although the walls aren’t high in comparison to rock climbing, hanging without a harness to rely on should get your heart pumping (even with a crash mat to catch you).

Bootcamp

Come rain or shine, you can be put through your paces with an instructor-led Bootcamp. British Military Fitness is one of the main providers of outdoor boot camps across the UK; sessions follow a framework, rather than a specific workout, so you’ll experience a new workout each time, dependant on the individual style of the instructor and the weather conditions. Classes consist of a mixture of cardio, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), strength and teamwork, and are lead with the belief that ‘the only way to create change is to force your body to adapt by throwing new challenges at it’.

There’s no complicated gym equipment to decipher; sessions follow simple yet effective exercises that you can continue practising in your own home. Rather than having to dedicate a whole training session to a single sport, boot camps bring a variety-packed hour with the added boost of team camaraderie for motivation.

Trampolining

Bounce your way to better health with this low-impact exercise. Trampolining isn’t just child’s play; in fact, studies carried out by NASA in 1980 show that rebound exercise can be up to 68% more effective than jogging. Trampolining allows you to take your training to new heights without compromising your knee and ankle joints. The soft surface absorbs the majority of the impact, making it an accessible activity for all abilities.

Learning to control your limbs whilst moving through the air offers an opportunity for you to hone in on coordination and spatial awareness skills which can benefit other sports, such as tennis and gymnastics. Maintaining posture and steadiness whilst rebounding off the soft bed of a trampoline also involves multiple muscle engagement, especially core control.

Tai Chi

Balance out your workout with this mindful martial art. Tai Chi is the total opposite of ‘no pain, no gain’; instead of breaking out in a sweat, the focus is on slow movements, meditation and breathing exercises. Tai Chi is low impact but still works on balance, muscle and flexibility; movements aren’t forced and muscles stay relaxed. This moving meditation is a two-for-one: practising it works on strengthening the mind and the body. It’s safe, open to all levels and can be done anywhere. As it’s the polar opposite of what many would consider a ‘typical’ workout, it’s a great option to help you diversify your exercise! Plus ‘slow and steady wins the race’ after all 😉

Ultimately, the more activities you engage in, the more opportunities you have to keep fit, however, practising new exercise is only part of the equation. Making sure you have the right fuel in-between workouts is also essential for mind and body. Packed with 15g of plant protein per bar, our Protein Taster Box is a practical (and tasty) way to achieve an on-the-go boost and experience that variety we’ve been banging on about.