Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Muscle Confusion

Over the past decade I’ve developed a passion for exercise.  I realized that if I want to be able to enjoy an active lifestyle as I grow older, I need to keep my body strong.  I was skiing at Park City several years ago and saw an older couple skiing with their grandkids.  I want to be able to do that one day.  I realize that there can always be factors that could keep me from reaching that goal, regardless of how much I exercise, but I’m keeping that goal in front of me.  I make an effort to eat healthfully and to work out diligently.  Cheri is an incredible baker, and I allow myself to enjoy her cookies and cakes, but I do my best to limit my indulgence.

Being a creature of habit, I tend to stick with a routine for a long time.  I find it easier to be consistent with my exercise regimen when it is truly a regimen.  I followed a regimen on the Total Gym (from the Chuck Norris infomercial) for about three years, then a routine based on Body for Life for another three years, and now P90x for the past four years.  They’ve all been great routines and I’ve experienced the benefits of each one.  The most recent one, P90x, stresses a concept called muscle confusion.  This concept says that your body will adapt to a routine after a certain length of time and you will plateau.  So about every four weeks, the routines change, and your body reacts to the change.  It’s a great concept and I can tell you, it works. 

When I started P90x, my body hurt for at least the first eight weeks.  But by the time I completed the 12-week regimen, my body adapted, and I didn’t feel quite as sore after each workout.  After four years of following the 12-week regimen a number of times, I can do hundreds of pushups, pull-ups, curls and chair dips without getting sore at all (Cheri would say “Now you’re just bragging!”). 

This week I decided to change things up.  On Monday, I went to the gym instead of working out at home.  I worked the same muscle groups that I usually work on Mondays:  chest, back, and abs.  But this time, I used a pyramid routine, performing sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, and 12 reps of four different exercises, increasing the weight with each set, and then “repping out” with a lighter weight at the end.  Yesterday, I stayed at home and did “Yoga X”, a 90-minute routine that I haven’t done since November.  Today, I’m sore for the first time in a long time.  That tells me I’m causing my muscles to work in a different way, and they will respond to the change.

Sometimes change is necessary to help us grow.  Do you ever find yourself feeling stale in your relationships or in your walk with God?  If you do, try changing things up for a while.  Find something new and different to do with your friends or your spouse.  Look for a different opportunity to serve in your church or in your community.  Read a different version of the Bible than what you’re accustomed to (there is more than one). 

Change can be refreshing.  Practice muscle confusion and experience the growth it will produce!

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