We all want to be the kind of guy who’s able to join any group of friends in all kinds of sports and activities. Soccer? Sure, why not. Intense intramural football? Of course. A half marathon next month? Uh, I’ll get back to you on that…
Let’s face it, not all of us were three-sport high school athletes. A lot of guys end up settling on the sport they excel at the most and focus on improving and honing their skills, more or less abandoning other sports. Likewise, this concentration on specialization ends up happening to a number of guys in their workout regimens, as men gravitate towards certain forms of exercise over others based on what they find to be in their comfort zone. Part of this is likely based in pride – a muscle-bound guy with no cardiovascular endurance might want to avoid the torture of struggling around a track, while a distance runner might fear the embarrassment of benching the bar plus a few mini weights in the gym.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Clearly, the easy way out is to just maintain your workout regimen – especially if you only focus on one or two facets of exercise, whether it’s cardiovascular endurance, speed, strength, power, agility or what have you. But are you sacrificing some huge potential gains in versatility and fitness level by avoiding the exercises you hate doing? Definitely – mixing it up is key.
“I certainly love variety,” says Todd Durkin, a trainer who has successfully worked with several top athletes, such as NFL stars Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson. He is also the owner of Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego and the author of the IMPACT! Body Plan. “I think variety allows for maximum diversity and maximum results. I don’t always think in terms of exercise, I think in terms of movement.”
Durkin refers to the different variations of exercises a guy can do, such as squats (regular, with barbells, with kettle bells, etc.) or pushups (standard, incline, leg-kick, etc.) that are all similar at their core but effectively work on different areas of the body. Switching up the exercises you already do can go a long way in diversifying your workouts.
For a guy with a relatively undefined workout program, or for someone who gets bored and loves trying different things throughout their training, a versatile training schedule that includes strength training, steady state cardio and interval training should be pretty easy to set up. But for more specialized guys, like the ones mentioned before, Durkin and Greg Robins, an accomplished Boston-based strength and conditioning coach, have some tips for them to address their habits, that is, if versatility is their goal.