Let’s talk a little bit about repetition in movement. Whether it be fitness related or yoga related.
There are 3 points that got me here to talk about this:
- my yoga teacher uses to say »There is magic in repetition«
- I read a very helpful article about yoga teachers ending up in a burnout from creating a new flow for every class they prepare
- you asked me whether I am following a fitness/training plan or not
And I want to show you 3 ways to get the magic feeling that lies in repetition – because it is there.
Repetition in yoga: Yoga flows can get really complex. A Vinyasa class can challenge you in a lot of ways as there are so many different options to sequence a class. So as a practitioner: Isn’t it nice to know the flow and to plug in into this meditative state right along because you don’t have to worry about what comes next? Isn’t it magic to repeat a well known flow you love because you can easily ease your mind?
Repetition in ashtanga yoga: The traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Method uses exactly this. It is meditation in movement – because you know the sequence. It is the same every time. And there are more advantages to it: Every time you step on your mat to do the sequence you can really see and feel the differences on a day to day basis, you really learn to know your body in it’s own cycles and repetitive states over a month or year. You learn to accept that even if you do the same movements every time they will give you something else, will feel different or look different. And that it is okay.
Repetition in fitness: To train a certain movement or a certain muscle you also have to repeat certain practices. Repeating a complex movement helps you to refine your techniques – which are in my opinion often more important as a base before aiming for getting stronger etc.
Repeating a specific workout – e.g. the benchmark WODs in CrossFit – you can see if you are getting stronger or faster or feel better while doing it. Repeating something is a good marker to see progress. So of course there will be repetition in a training or programming – and it is there for a reason. The magic is in coming back to something and seeing what your body or your mind can achieve over time – with consistency and repetition.
And I also want to show you that repetition can be not the way you wanna do this:
Repetition in 30-day-challenges, that are oh so popular right now: There are challenges out there that will be like »Do one push up on day 1, 2 push ups on day 2 …« and so on. Or maybe challenges that repeat the same workout every day (like 20 push ups, 20 sit ups, 20 air squats). There are endless opportunities. My point is: You will just get exhausted by those. Because you will train the same muscles with the same movements in a way you usually wouldn’t do, that causes extra stress that you wouldn’t have in a good programming.
And: A challenge where you do the same movement for 30 days will exhaust the muscle (depending on the workout and intensity, of course). There is a chance to exhaust the muscle over extend – so that there is no space for muscle growth. And there is also no time for recovery. And this is the point where repetition is holding you back from making any progress.
So if you wanna move 30 days in a row: Make sure the repetitions aren’t daily but in a fine programmed way so that your muscles have time to adapt. Don’t mindlessly follow any routine you find on social media or whereever but work with a professional to help you find the right amount of repetition and variety.