Repeat workouts: 5 reason you should
Repeat your workouts
Again and again and again. If I have learned anything from coaching over the last decade it is that repeat workouts breed better results. That sounds a little bit crazy so let’s break it down.
1. Allow your body to develop a routine
As an athlete you need to develop muscular patterns. A runner needs to develop the pattern in which their foot strikes the ground, a swimmer with their arm entering the water, and a cyclist with their pedal stroke (among many others). If you don’t do a fair amount of similar work, you’re going to have a lot of trouble developing those muscular patterns. That familiar routine is needed for your body to continually develop.
The more you do the same thing, or something similar, the more your body can adapt, become more efficient, and you can develop more.
2. A routine helps create a path of least resistance
No one has perfect form. Some elites have incredible economy in their form, but no one is perfect. By repeating the same movements in your muscular routine you allow your body to slowly find a path of least resistance through your poor tendencies.
If you’re a runner with a bad heal strike you’re either going to run yourself into the ground (ie. get hurt), or with some coaching and repetitiveness you’re slowly going to allow your body to work into a path of least resistance.
For most, this is not as simple as just running but the concept itself is that simple. Repeat good motions over and over again. Good motions tend to become better motions over time.
If you’re a swimmer with bad shoulder pain during one part of your pull, the more you work that part of the pull, the more your body will slowly find a more efficient technique.
When your body does the same thing over and over again it’s going to naturally want to do less work, expend less energy, and just be more efficient. This, obviously, means you need to do something quite a bit too. Running or swimming 2 times each week isn’t going to allow for enough work for these actions to all fall into place.
3. Endurance racing is boring
Let’s face it, ticking away those miles of your marathon or even your 5k can feel like forever. You might get jolts of energy jockeying for position but most athletes are just trying to work through the event. Not every mile is fun.
As such, not every mile of training should be fun. You need to train your mind to be bored and just let your body do the work sometimes. Repeat works, when you feel like you’re in autopilot, are a fantastic way to work through the boredom.
If you can’t handle boring workouts you probably aren’t willing to handle what it takes to do really well in a race. Not everyone is looking to win but if you are you need to be ok with this.
4. Repeat workouts breed familiarity
You’re already stressed about enough things in life, we don’t always need to add extra stress to a workout. Repeat workouts bread familiarity and, again, allow you to go through the motions a little more. Sometimes going through the motions means being on “autopilot”, sometimes it means being able to focus more.
When you do the same sets again and again, you’re able to walk into those situations with the knowledge of what should generally happen. You have an idea of pacing and feel, and how badly the workout might hurt. When you repeat workouts you can mostly know what to expect (note: this isn’t about outcomes, it’s about process).
5. Excellent benchmarks
Just like every swim, bike or run test you’ve ever done, repeat workouts help set benchmarks for different durations and intensities. Most athlete and coaches use the same types of power tests to learn an athletes FTP. You might use 4 x 4 minutes, 20 minutes, or 1 hour but you’re not going to just do that once and forget it. You’ll repeat that work multiple times.
Repeat workouts can (for good or bad depending on the athlete) be seen as tests. Not all tests have to come with excruciating effort though. Running a 45 minute base run every Monday, after logging heavy miles on the weekend, is a great repeat workout to see how your legs are holding up from the weekend. And you probably didn’t even think about it that way before.
So be ok with your repeat workouts. The best coaches love to give them over and over again. The best athletes love to do them (or will gladly tolerate them) because they know the workouts just… well, they work.
So workout, rinse, repeat.
Today is a good day.