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Fit for Duty: January 2016

Anyone who has spent any amount of time working out has experienced boredom or lack of motivation. Don’t worry, it’s not just you. The good news is that we benefit from variety. Your body is very smart and adapts by finding easier ways to complete routine tasks. Mixing things up is ultimately an advantage and should improve your results.

February 1, 2016 
By Sherry Dean

Your body is smart and adapts to routine exercises by finding easier ways to complete them. Sherry Dean offers ways to mix up your workout to avoid boredom.

If you are not getting the results you want, perhaps you are looking at the wrong results. It’s easy to measure your workout success by pounds lost or by the amount of weight lifted, but there are many other ways too. Lost inches, increased flexibility and energy, improved sleep, enhanced mobility and stability are just a few other ways to determine if your workout is working.  

Setting realistic goals that are short term and specific will help you attain them. If you set goals too high, you are less likely to see the improvements you are making along the way. Keep a record of your workouts and compare them once in a while. If you find you are not improving in a certain area, you can make changes based on what you have done before.

Avoid doing the same workout twice. Every workout can be different. Small or big changes are good for your progress and can be as simple as changing the number of reps, modifying the exercise angle or weight, or completely changing the movements.

Repetition modification:


Day 1 – low reps (three to six) with longer rest periods and higher resistance or tougher exercises.

Day 2 – high reps (12 to 20), short, one-minute rest and lower resistance.

Day 3 – med reps (eight to 12), two-minute rest and midrange resistance.

Go back to Day 1.

Intensity modifications: (Use these examples for any type of exercises.)


  • pike or inverted from a box, add a Spiderman knee, wear a backpack
  • high reps drop to knees when failing


  • add a press, use kettle bells or dumbbells, one leg
  • high reps air squat


  • wear a backpack, change your arm or hand position
  • High reps assist with a band/partner or just do a negative lower

Spice it up! Try something completely different for a month or two. There are endless varieties of activities that will benefit your health and wellness, such as yoga, functional training, boot camp, group exercise, TRX, interval training, CrossFit, spin class, and so on. Challenging your body in ways it is not accustomed to may be awkward or difficult, but the payout is great. Whether you are challenging your cardio, balance or co-ordination, you will benefit from variation even if it is to give yourself a rest and recovery.

Total body workout: two to four rotations, 10 to 15 reps each exercise.

(Use what you have – dumbbells, hoserolls, sack of flour, kids.)

  1. Weighted squat and a half – squat as low as you can safely, then come halfway back up, lower back to bottom and return to start position.
  2. Decline push-up – elevate your feet on a bench or rolls of hose as high as you need for a challenge. Go as low as you can in a full range of motion.
  3. One arm inverted rows – use a piece of webbing tied to an elevated point, and tie a hand loop in it too. Keep your body in a very straight line (plank) and don’t allow your hips to rotate. Fully extend your arm, then pull your body up until your hand is just below your pec, beside your ribs. Choose an angle that will challenge you but not cause you to move out of a plank position. Complete right and left arms.
  4. Burpees – you know you love them! Chest to the ground, back up and hop in the air.
  5. Travelling lunges with arms straight overhead – choose a weight to hold overhead with straight arms and alternate lunges on right leg, then left leg. That’s one.
  6. Floor to shoulder figure eight – choose a weight you can handle with control. Place it on the floor to the right side. Lift to the left side as though you were placing it on a shelf (shoulder height), then return it to the floor on your left side. Now lift it from your left side floor to your right-side shoulder height and then place it on the floor to your right.
  7. Single arm deadlift – place a weight between your feet, keep your head and chest facing forward. Pick the weight up with one hand but imagine you have a weight in the other to keep your body from rotating.
  8. One minute cardio movement of your choice – high knees, lines, jumping jacks, or whatever you’re feeling!

Sherry Dean is a career firefighter/engineer with Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service. She has more than 20 years of experience in fitness and training.

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