We know it’s important to change up our workouts to stimulate different muscles, break through plateaus, and prevent boredom. But if we change our workout every time then we're missing out on a very powerful training method that allows us to push harder and more rapidly improve our fitness.
Here's an example of how this works: I've run the same route three times in three weeks. The first time it took me about 63 minutes. The second time it took me 60 minutes and 15 seconds. Finally, on the third try, I broke one hour and finished in 58 minutes, 30 seconds.
I'd attribute the improvement in time to a few things:
Mentally being able to push myself harder
Getting better at the route I was running (knowing what to expect, where are the best sections to push my pace, etc.)
Maybe getting slightly fitter
By doing the same workout regularly, I took advantage of a simple but effective hack to push myself harder. It's the "I can probably do a little more" hack.
Unlock Your Potential
Once you've done a particular workout, you know you can do it, because you've already done it. It's not too much of a stretch then to think, "I bet I can go a little faster; I bet I can go a little longer," or "I bet I can lift a little heavier.” If you do that each time you do the same workout, you'll unlock potential that you never knew you had.
Stick With It
It would've been pretty tough for me to think I could do that run in 58 minutes and 30 seconds after the first time I ran it. But after seeing that I could decrease my time by as much as I did on the second run, it empowered me to believe I can do more. And this was only after doing the same workout three times. Imagine how much we can improve by sticking with a workout for four-six weeks!
Exercises to Try This method can be used with any exercise, but I find it works best with exercises that have a major mental component to them. Here are a few of my favorite ones to employ with this tactic:
Plank for time: hold longer each workout.
Pushups for total reps: add reps each workout.
Squats for total reps: add reps each workout and keep resistance the same. Eventually you'll be able to increase resistance.
Lunges for total reps: add reps each workout and keep resistance the same. Eventually you'll be able to increase resistance.
Any form of cardio that you can track performance: go faster or longer each workout.
Of course you'll reach diminishing returns eventually, but if you're someone who typically changes things up every time, try sticking to a specific workout for a while. See if you can get competitive with yourself and unlock some extra push that you didn't know you had!