Exercise variation is critical for every exercise program. Doing different types of exercise can improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
If you are a fitness freak, you might have optimized your workout program with a variety of exercises. And the reason for relying on multiple exercise routines while working out is a no-brainer. Exercise variation is critical for every exercise program not because it combats boredom but also due to the fact that it reduces injury risk and engenders improved performance.
Combining different types of exercise formats in a workout routine allows the exerciser to focus on different targets, major muscle groups, and fitness goals. For instance, combining interval training with weightlifting not only aids in shedding those extra kilos but also helps in building lean muscle mass.
Hence to maximize your fitness levels, you should always add variety to your workout routine. There are plenty of ways to spice up your existing workout regimen. Follow this guide to know what types of exercises you can rely on to make your exercise routine more engaging and powerful.
What exercises can you add to your everyday regime?
Most people stick to only one type of physical activity or exercise with the notion that it’s sufficient for them. Research National Institute on Aging: Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health and Physical Ability says that it is important for individuals to engage in all four types of exercises. That includes cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance. Each type of fitness exercise comes with its own set of benefits. And no matter your age or fitness level, there are exercise types out there to cater to your needs.
1. Strength training
Strength or resistance training is all about building and maintaining your muscles by lifting weights and employing resistance to improve the body’s overall health and physical ability. While some use progressive weights, others use resistance bands that come in varying strengths. We recommend weight lifting exercises for arms, chest, back, legs, biceps, and triceps to tone and strengthen your muscles while maintaining healthy muscle mass.
Several peer-reviewed studies National Library of Medicine: Weekly Training Frequency Effects on Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis have recommended strengthening exercises 2 to 3 days per week for optimal strength gains. Strength exercises can improve joint function, insulin sensitivity, and metabolic health. Doing weight training regularly even stimulates bone growth and improves bone density, thereby promoting better recovery from injuries.
If you are a beginner, you can start your strength training program with lower weights or a light resistance band. You can gradually increase weights or add a stronger band once you develop sufficient endurance. Ideally, take the help of a certified personal trainer to choose the best exercises and the right level of resistance for building strength, endurance, and healthy muscle.
Some great examples of strength training exercises include:
- Resistance band exercises
- Close grip bench presses
- Incline bench press
- Kettlebell exercises
- Single-arm triceps extension
- Dumbbell rows
- Barbell curl
- Cable curl
2. Cardio training
Cardio or aerobic exercise refers to the performance of aerobic exercises that elevate your breathing and heart rates and eventually build endurance. No wonder, these are also referred to as endurance training or endurance exercises.
Aerobic exercise is known to help prevent or delay certain health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and certain cancers. Experts Mayo Clinic: How much should the average adult exercise every day? recommend at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity or at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week for optimal results. Some best examples of cardio fitness exercises are:
- Brisk walking
- Stair climbing
- Jumping rope
If you are a gym-goer, you can opt for the following cardio exercises:
- Elliptical training
- Stair climbing
- Exercise biking
- Rowing machine
3. Balance training
Balance training involves doing exercises that build muscle strength. These exercises help us improve posture and keep upright by working on areas such as abdominal and leg muscles. Since the back, legs, and core are essential for balance, most balance training will involve core exercises or lower body strength exercises that focus on developing core and lower body strength.
Balance exercises also enhance stability, especially in older adults, and help prevent falls. The following exercises are great for people who aim to develop balance:
- Calf raises
- Hip extensions
- Single leg stance
- Tai Chi
- Single leg side lift
- Balance walk
- One-foot stand
- The heel-to-toe walk
4. Sports training
Sports training exercises can be a great addition to any workout program. These are the physical exercises that are done in order to improve one’s performance in a sport. Formal sports training programs are often vigorous-intensity activities that include plyometric exercises, sprinting drills, and weightlifting.
Including sports-specific exercises in your routine can help improve your fitness levels. Athletic training can help you to develop greater power, speed, balance, and agility. In addition, sports training can help to reduce the risk of injury by strengthening the muscles and joints. You can add the following sports training exercises to your weekly workout plan:
- Plyometric exercises
- Sprinting drills
- Agility training
- Power training
- Fartlek Training
- Team sports
5. Functional training
Functional training is a type of exercise that trains your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily physical activities. It is different from other types of workouts because it uses movements that are similar to those you would do in your everyday life.
Functional training improves balance, coordination, and flexibility. These exercises can also help you lose weight and develop muscle strength. Doing these activities on a regular basis can be especially beneficial for seniors to help them stay independent and go about their day-to-day activities without risking injury or strain.
The following exercises are great for people who want to add functional training to their workout routine:
- Jumping jacks
6. Interval training
Interval training is a type of exercise that alternates between periods of high-intensity and low-intensity exercise. It usually involves different types of cardiovascular exercises such as running, cycling, or swimming.
It can help to improve your cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, and insulin sensitivity. In addition, interval training is known to be one of the best weight loss programs. You burn more calories in one high-intensity interval training session than you would in most other workout sessions.
The following exercises are great for people who want to add interval training to their workout routine:
- Jumping rope
7. Flexibility training
Flexibility training involves a set of activities that work on stretching your muscles to allow them to make a full range of movement while exercising. One of the health benefits of exercise that involves stretching is the reduced risk of injuries during workouts.
Stretching also boosts circulation, lowers muscle tension, and improves posture. Start every workout session with 10-15 minutes of warm-up by performing stretching exercises. Some flexibility exercises you can add to your exercise routine are:
- Forward Lunges
- Hamstring stretch
- Sitting shoulder stretch
- The inner thigh stretch
- The back of the leg stretch
- Standing quad stretch
- Cross arm stretch
- Seat stretch
- The backstretch exercise
- The ankle stretch
One sample workout plan with a variety of exercises
Follow this workout plan if you are looking forward to adding a variety of exercises to your workout routine.
|Day||Type of exercise||Duration|
|Monday||Strength training (dumbbell workout or resistance band exercises)||30-40 minutes|
|Tuesday||Low-impact cardio activity(yoga, swimming, light cycling)||30-60 minutes|
|Wednesday||Balance training (Tai Chi, Single leg pose, calf-raises)||30-60 minutes|
|Thursday||Sports training (Plyometrics, sprint drills, Fartlek training)||30-40 minutes|
|Friday||Functional training (planks, push-ups, jumping jacks)||30-60 minutes|
|Saturday||Interval training (Rowing, swimming, cycling)||45-60 minutes|
|Sunday||Rest (opt for stretching/Flexibility training like standing quad stretch, forward lunges, ankle stretch)||15-20 minutes|
Why do you need different types of exercise formats?
Although most fitness freaks opt for variety in their workout routines either to avoid/delay reaching a plateau in training results or to avoid boredom, the benefits of relying on multiple forms of exercise go far beyond that. Here are some benefits of including a variety of fitness exercises in your workout routine:
Our body tends to adapt quickly to single exercises, and soon you stop seeing results. But, when you mix up your fitness routine, your body doesn’t get the chance to adapt fully, and you have a better chance of working out more sets of muscles in your entire body with combined workouts than you would with a single exercise.
Adding variety to a workout program can boost adherence. A study conducted on three groups composed of 114 men and women found that variety contributed to adherence in a group and made workouts more enjoyable for group members. The members of the group with varied workouts were 15% more likely to adhere to their workout routine on a regular basis.
Healthy fat loss & muscle gain
If “burn fat build muscle” is your aim, then you need to factor different routines into your workout plan. If you spice up your workout routine with a good mix of cardio and resistance training, it will help you develop healthy muscle mass which in turn will allow you to burn calories more efficiently.
Less risk of injury
Overtraining is always bad, whether you are solely doing cardio or strength training. Alternating between cardio and muscle training will allow some sets of muscles to rest and recover while others are in motion. The end result will be improved performance rather than injuries from overtraining.
Core strength and balance
Our balance is closely linked to the strength of our core muscles, and both core strength and balance can be increased by including a healthy mix of fitness activities in your routine. For instance, try combining squats like pistol squats or dumbbell exercises like single-leg Romanian deadlifts. This will help to increase your balance and work your core muscles. Adding some yoga is another great way to improve your balance and flexibility.
It is estimated that 60% of people who engage in strength training get an average of 7 hours or more of sleep every night. Now, if you alternate your strength training days with cardio, your fatigued muscles will be allowed to repair and build through sleep. On cardio days, your energy deposits will be consumed, and there won’t be any energy left. However, the body will recover by gaining the restful sleep it needs.
Opting for a variety of fitness exercises allows for enhanced performance, better body weight management, prevents a training plateau, and lowers the risk of injuries. It helps you to stay engaged in your workout sessions and prevents boredom.
By varying your exercise routines, you will not only stay physically challenged but also mentally stimulated. Just ensure that you do each exercise under expert guidance and maintain proper form through every exercise.
So, are you ready to spice up your workout routine by adding variety? Do it right away to reap plenty of benefits!
Combining different types of exercises in one workout routine is clearly beneficial in more ways than one. It is likely that you still have some questions related to this topic. Let’s quickly go through some of the most frequently asked questions about combined workouts.
|↑1||National Institute on Aging: Four Types of Exercise Can Improve Your Health and Physical Ability|
|↑2||National Library of Medicine: Weekly Training Frequency Effects on Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis|
|↑3||Mayo Clinic: How much should the average adult exercise every day?|