Hit it, Chloe!*
Which means it's the time to post the latest workout schedule prepared by my trainer. The past month's plan did end up with an increase in my arms, a decrease in my gut and, as the trainer says, being "more solid." He's right.
This month's schedule is all about concentrating on one area per day:
Monday: (Morning) Boxing, abs, cardio (Evening) Back
Thursday: (Morning) Boxing, abs, cardio (Evening) Shoulders
Saturday: Running and area of choice or (with trainer) bootcamp
Sunday: Running and Pilates
You'll notice that there's not as much cardio on the list this month. Part of that is due to an old ankle injury acting up which makes cardio machine work painful (running seems to be ok). But this first week of this schedule has actually been as hard and sweaty even without the time spent on machines. We'll see what we need to adjust. But I'm enjoying this. I needed a change up.
Like Chloe says, it's always good to have some variety when you work out. Now, I know this is touted by so many "expert" types as muscle confusion, but that really is another gimmicky name. I think it's really always been called circuit training. If you do a semantic web search on muscle confusion, you'll find a lot of medical texts on involuntary muscle reactions to drug interactions or genetic issues. Not exactly what they're trying to sell in P90X, I'm sure!
Circuit training, or whatever you call it, doesn't "confuse your muscles", but different exercises do help work different muscles in different ways. It's one of the reasons I mix Pilates into my schedule. It's a very different way to work the arms, back, legs and core, than deadlifts and skull crushers.
But I do think variety is important to keep you interested in exercise, especially in the gym where, let's face it, it's not too exciting. One of the reasons I like running outside is that it's great to experience all that's happening around you: different people, landscapes and buildings, faded signs of yesteryear, and so on. Not so much in the gym.
I'm not the only one that thinks so. A quick patent search shows that there are certainly enough devices invented to relieve boredom during exercise. It must be a thing.
I did find one report that looked at varying workouts and how that would make participants adhere to exercise regimens. Both boredom and enjoyment were measured (based on participant input). The hypothesis was that varied workout would be less boring. Interestingly enough:
"The analyses did not support this hypothesis. All participants in this study cited a statistically similar boredom level for their exercises. Yet these findings appear counterintuitive. Changing the exercise routine increased enjoyment but did not decrease boredom, despite a significant negative correlation between the two constructs."
Now this is only one study, a variety of factors were being tested and participants basically self-selected their response to their boredom level based on a one question with a seven point range. But even the researchers were surprised by the results. We just expect that a change of pace will liven things up, workout-wise, especially among us newer types. And the study did show that enjoyment was increased, even if boredom didn't decrease.
But I think it's more than that. It's the determination to make it work. Mixing it up helps it happen, but it's all back to our own selves again.
Your muscles don't need to be confused. They just need regular attention. Especially after all those calorie-laden demi-dark cocoa-dipped bumblebees.
*The REAL Chloe Sevigny once stopped to admire my leg tattoo as I was walking home from the gym. Hipster credentials have been cemented.
Glaros, N. M., and C. M. Janelle. “Varying the mode of cardiovascular exercise to increase adherence.” Journal of Sport Behavior 24, no. 1 (2001): 42–62.