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Strength for life?

Has your exercise routine gone stale? Are you not seeing results? It could be time to spice things up a little and make it more appealing.

Here are some ways to add variety to your resistance training, while ensuring what you do is relevant for life’s physical demands.

A) lift heavier weights, or lift lighter weights with faster movements.

Life feels easier when you can lift heavy objects when necessary or move quickly when you have to. While paying attention to your technique and stabilising correctly, shifting a heavier weight than you’re used to, or a lighter one but with more speed, will prepare your body for the challenges life sometimes throws at us. For instance, it’s impossible to start a petrol lawn mower without using a fast pulling action! Lifting heavy shopping bags out of a car can be a difficult task.

B) exercise like humans move.

We sit, stand, walk, pick things up, put them down again and do it all over again many times a day. All day long we push, pull and rotate things with our upper body and torso, and use an asymmetrical single leg stance in walking. When these primary movements are used to form the basis of your exercise choice then the exercises you perform will carry over into your daily life, maintaining your strength and mobility, essential for a pain free existence. For example a one leg balance and reach replicates leaning over to pick a toy up off the floor, and a one arm row in a lunge position is rather like the sustained action of vacuuming!

C) move in all 3 planes.

We move in a combination of 3 planes – forward and backward (sagittal plane), sideways like a crab (frontal plane) and rotating (transverse plane). Most common exercises cause us to move in the familiar sagittal plane, but life is a 360 degree experience, requiring us to move in many planes at once. Housework, playing with children, DIY and walking a pulling dog on a lead, or readjusting your body so you don’t fall when you’ve slipped on something, all require us to be good at moving in all directions. So, incorporating the 3 planes of movement into your exercise selection is important. For example, squatting while travelling sideways (frontal plane), wood chops with a medicine ball (transverse), as well as walking lunges (sagittal).

D) do not do exercises you find boring.

If you only do exercise out of obligation and don’t enjoy it you will likely never work hard enough to achieve success. There are so many physical activity options out there, you just need to keep trying different activities until you find one that you enjoy. For example, if you don’t enjoy weight training at a gym, try a BodyPump class or revamp all your exercises so they are functional and interesting, and could be done at home. If you don’t really like fast walking then get your bike out and cycle for an hour and see your home surroundings in a new light. Whatever you choose, you need to like doing it for it to be sustainable.