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  • Writer's pictureAnna Buchanan

Repetition or Change



Do you ever get bored with regular workouts? I spend a lot of my day moving and teaching fitness classes and I sometimes do. But which approach is better for results: repeating workouts or changing things up? The answer is both.


First, repetition: Our brains learn from it and this influences our coordination, balance and efficiency in how we move. Repetition aids anticipatory movement and gives us feedback on progress that leaves us feeling uplifted and successful. We can feel changes in our bodies and brains as new neural pathways are created. When practiced repeatedly, new movement patterns spark change in the sensory-motor cortex which in turn creates muscle memory and improved body awareness. The cerebellum gets a healthy dose of attention too, as its primary role is to regulate the speed and control of our movement.


Second, change: Just as important as repetition, our brains also learn quickly through contrast. If we’ve changed up a routine, our bodies make prompt adaptations. We may notice where our movements can be improved upon. Or conversely, what wasn’t achievable the other day now feels more natural and balance feels steadier.


I experienced the impact of change the other day. Over the winter I had diligently followed a prescribed physio program but craved something fun to do. I tried an on-demand workout, excited to get sweaty and feel strong. Instead, It was an hour of feeling unbalanced and “OMG this is sooo hard”. On the second try, though, the workout was more fun and I was pleasantly surprised to feel the results of sticking to a repetitive rehab routine shining through. 


Experiencing the contrast between then and now is a motivator to keep trying again and gives us perspective on the necessity of maybe-boring-but-vital repetitive exercises. 


For optimal results, a mix of recurrence and change helps you recognize progress in strength, endurance and flexibility. Repetition is a good approach for building the groundwork towards success while variety highlights how far we’ve come and where we may need to improve.


The magic ingredient? Consistency. Just keep your body moving in many directions, giving it ways to learn and adapt and your progress will continue moving onward and upward. Maybe shake things up a bit and try something new alongside an old fave to feel it out for yourself!


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