If you are noticing a lack of results from your hard work in or out of the gym, the problem may be your exercise routine—and the fact that it has become, well, routine. Maybe you always run five miles a day or use the same cardiovascular machine. Maybe you always stick to taking the same classes—Monday you spin, Tuesday is kickboxing, Wednesday you spin again and Thursday you do boot camp. If this sounds like you, then it is time for a major routine overhaul in order to maximize results, get stronger and improve your health.

One of the things that tend to hold people back from making a change is the fear of change. You may be one of those women who like to know what you are doing because you know what to expect so there are no surprises. Let’s face it—having a routine is what keeps most of us on track in the first place. But once you have gotten to the point where you have been able to make exercise a part of your daily schedule, you then need to step up your game in order to keep seeing improvement.

Changing your routine can be tricky, but here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Try a class you have never done or were fearful of trying. Nothing bad will ever happen to you aside from perhaps realizing that you spent so much time avoiding something you may actually enjoy. If you always spin, try a boot camp class. If you always kickbox, try yoga. Not sure what to do? Ask a trainer, instructor, or friend for some advice.
  2. If you always walk, whether it is outside or on a treadmill, increase your speed, alternate between jogging and walking, increase the incline or run uphill. Just do not settle for doing your usual forty-five minutes at three miles an hour on a flat road. Play with the settings or walk a completely different route. Do the same thing for whatever form of cardiovascular exercise you do often.
  3. Pick up the weights. There are so many reasons to lift weights and yet many women shy away from the weight room or from even picking up a weight unless they are taking a class that uses them. Dedicate at least two days a week to doing a full-body workout using weights. Not only will your muscles get a serious wake-up call, but your body will be burning calories long after you leave the gym. If you already lift weights, change your sets, reps and the size of your weights. Change the types of weight lifting exercises you do as well.
  4. Test yourself by tackling something you never thought you could (or would) ever be able to do such as a 5K run, a bike race, mountain climbing, skiing or tackling the toughest class your gym has to offer. Not only will this be a great way to shake things up, but you will also be able to see just how far you have come and how strong you really are. You may be very surprised to learn that you are indeed able to do what you thought you never could.

The problem with always doing the same thing is that your body quickly adapts to it. It is no longer hard work for your body to run five miles or bike for twenty. When that happens, you are not going to make any gains in strength, speed or power because your body is not being challenged any more. It is great that you got to that point where your body can handle the workload, but now you need to switch things up so you keep getting stronger, faster and better.

If it is fear that keeps you from change, ask yourself what you are afraid of and why. If failure is your issue, there is no such thing when it comes to exercise. The fact that you are doing something new means you have already succeeded. If you are someone who does not like to try new things, perhaps you can convince a friend to join you so you have support.

Another great way to keep yourself committed to change is to let friends and family know that you are trying something new. By doing that, it is almost certain that you will be asked about your new experience. You certainly do not want to tell your friends and family that you chickened out. When I decided to run my first 5K (I am not a runner at all), I told everyone I knew about my plans knowing full well they would ask me how I did on my first race.

Bottom line—do not let fear, your comfort level or stubbornness get in the way of making progress. In order to see changes, you need to make changes, and that is especially true when it comes to your exercise routine.

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