There is also the excitement factor. All too often people give up on their exercise programme because it is “boring”. Well, yes, anything that you repeat endlessly will eventually get boring. If you always run for 30 minutes, three times a week, for five kilometres, then you will soon lose your love of running.
Break those running sessions into a sprint session, a longer run and a steady five mile run, then you have more variety. But it is still all just running. At bootcamp, we add the excitement factor – weights, plyometrics, core stability, strength and conditioning and a whole host of other physical challenges.
Taking up the challengeWhy do we think this is a good idea? Because challenging yourself to do things it is not used to will stimulate both your body and your mind. This makes variety in a fitness session important for both mental and physiological reasons. People lose motivation when they get bored, so doing different, challenging exercises will alleviate boredom and add excitement to your exercise programme.
This view is shared by numerous health professionals across the globe. Barbara Bushman is associate professor, Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, and associate dean of the Graduate College, Southwest Missouri State University. She says: “There are physiological benefits as well as psychological benefits of having variety in your exercise programme. When you do the same type of exercise exclusively, your body builds certain specific strengths. By switching your activity mode, you broaden your physical abilities.”
Doing a different activity "stresses the body in a new and novel way, we need to push the body beyond what it normally does in order for it to improve.” she adds. That's why, after trying a new physical movement, you sometimes feel sore in places where you had forgotten you had muscles.
The SAID principle
There is a scientific phrase for this – the SAID principle. SAID stands for Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands and means that your body will adapt to demands that you place upon it. When you train by running long distances at a certain pace, your body will respond and adapt, meaning that it takes less effort to complete those long, steadyruns. This is called reaching a plateau – you will have been getting fitter and more able to cope with the demands of running that distance, but now it is relatively easy and while you can cope with the exercise easily, you are no longer making progress.
By mixing it up you are making your body work harder, therefore getting fitter in the process. This also relates to weight loss, if that is the aim of your fitness routine – by shaking your body out of its regular routine, you make it work harder, burning more calories in the process.
Tough it out
So there it is, getting some variety into your workout is vital if you are to keep improving your fitness levels, manage your weight and boost your motivation levels. At bootcamp you can expect variety all the time. We tend to mix in strength training, aerobic work, martial arts moves, interval training, and some good old fashioned military drills – it might be dirty, it will certainly be tough, but it will never be boring.