Let's be honest here, after a few years of working out fitness itself can lose its sparkle. Even for someone who has been an athlete their whole life (not me) exercise can become complacent and repetitive at times. For many of us that are coming off of working out at home (I know some of us still are) workouts can especially get boring. So I wanted to chat about a few ways you can spice up your workouts in the gym. Some of which are obvious and somewhat superficial (like a new outfit to where for a run or new shoes to rock in the gym). But there are many ways that you can change up your workout to battle a plate or mental fatigue and boredom.
After I did my 5th body building competition a few years back I thought for sure that I would not want to step foot in a gym for a solid month after I competed. I was so tired mentally, physically, and emotionally that I could not handle one more superset strength training workout of 12-15 reps for 4 sets or 20 more minutes of cardio post workout. I didn't want anything to do with the gym. Low and behold I found myself back on the stair master 5 days later. I sound like a hypocrite for saying this and then going against my actions.
However, at the time I think I needed the mental escape that exercise brought, the ability to take your focus away from work or personal life stressors and focus on something physically and mentally strenuous was therapeutic to me. I am sure some of you can relate. When this happened I realized it was not exercise itself that I was tired of, I discovered I needed to ditch the same old workout program that I had followed for the past 3 months. Once I did this I was able to rediscover my love for fitness all over again.
When exercise gets boring, there are a billion ways you can change things up to create diversity within your activity regimen. I came up with a list of things that has truly helped me in the past break through boredom when it comes to exercise.
1.) Take your workout outside. I promise, changing up the environment in which you exercise makes a huge difference. It can help with mental clarity and bring new air into your lungs (literally!). Also, there is something very grounding and humbling about being outside and sweating it out.
2.) Sweat with a purpose. Incorporate your sweat session with house work or yard work. My boyfriend kindly suggested some of the things he has done around our house to break a sweat: flagstone patio overhead squats, digging a trench for time and suicide sprints on the sidewalk with our puppy. All of which are practical and productive.
3.) Set a daily or weekly challenge. For example: set a goal of 10 push-ups unbroken per day. Try to add one extra push-up per day. Setting smaller short term goals like this can help you feel accomplished because these little victories (and adding one rep per day) add up at the end of the week.
4.) If you are lifting weights in the gym, change up your rep cycles and number of sets. Start lifting higher reps and lighter weight to increase your endurance and go until failure or full fatigue. Or switch up your weight lifting volume and reps to lift for hypertrophy (muscle growth) and lift closer to 10-15 reps for multiple sets. Lastly, lift to increase your overall strength and go for heavier weight and lower reps. Changing up your style of lifting can add a good amount of variety to your workouts.
5.) Think outside the box and get inspired. Whenever I feel stuck I will hop on Pinterest or Instagram and find a style of workout that is challenging for me or I will try to drop into a class at a new fitness studio. Often it is not my first choice (or the easiest workout for me) but I challenge myself to do it anyway. I have gone on youtube and found at home barre workouts to do, or I will find a Crossfit style workout and scale it to my ability and then knock that out in the gym or at home. There is no limit to creativity when it comes to a workout style so let yourself be inspired and challenged by others.
6.) Switch up your cardio. If you are usually a slow twitch muscle fiber person, the long distance runner type, try for a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout instead to work those fast twitch muscle fibers. Our bodies are very smart and adapt quickly. I promise you your muscles will feel it the next day if you switch up your normal routine. And there is a lot of personal growth and muscle growth when you change a cardio habit. Try not to be complacent and be open to something new, a more challenging type of cardio. You never know what you may be good at.
7.) Get new workout gear. Seriously, this is seems silly but often times when us ladies are feeling ourselves in a new outfit at the gym we tend to get more involved in our workout and sweat harder. Same goes for a new pair of cycling shoes, new rock climbing gear or a new snowboard. It drives your passion for that particular sport and you are often more motivated to push through.
8.) Lastly, make it fun. If you aren't enjoying yourself anymore you need to change your routine, period. Ask a friend to accompany you to the gym or on a run. Watch an inspiring workout video before you go lift or make your workout harder by doing a high intensity session and making it into a competition with your buddy. Climb a mountain but wear a weighted vest for the added cardio element.
Exercise does not have to be torture, in fact if we learn to love it we are bound to turn it into a long term habit instead of a yoyo fad. When you feel like you are in a rut with exercise remember there is hope. You can overcome your plateau or mental block and you will find a way to be inspired again.
Let me know if you need any specific workout ideas or inspiration. I am here to help!