Most of us fall into an exercise rut at some point and find ourselves just plain bored with exercise. We attend the same class at the gym, we walk the same route through our neighborhood or we perform the same sequence of weights every time that we work out. Routine can be a good thing in that it gets us to commit to a regular plan of exercise, but when boredom strikes we can lose interest in working out and give up completely. It is important to change your routine and try different exercises for both physical as well as mental reasons.
When you continue to do the same moves all of the time your body gets used to the routine and no longer works as hard as it did when you initially began the exercises. Muscle memory comes into play, "assisting" the body through the moves. You no longer have to exert yourself as strenuously to complete the same moves, and therefore the results are diminished. You have heard that people reach a "plateau" in their weight loss or their strength goals, and this is usually the result of not challenging the body in new and meaningful ways. Changing your workout does not need to be a major shake up. Even small changes can yield the benefits you desire and keep you on track for continued success.
1. Reverse the route for your neighborhood walk. What was once a downhill will now be uphill. Even if you are walking in a flat area, your body will respond to the change in scenery (yes, things really do look different going the other way!)
2. If you are working at the gym on the machines, complete a full circuit of weights and then go back to the beginning and go through the circuit again for your second set of reps. This will have you moving from one machine to the next more quickly (no need to rest since you will be working a different muscle anyway), and you might get a little cardio boost as well.
3. Change the order of your weight lifting. If you always start with legs, switch it up and begin with upper body. Try alternating between an upper body move and a lower body move. Number your exercises and then "shuffle" the moves around. The only cautionary note is to save the bulk of your abdominal work for the end so that you do not tire your core and potentially compromise your form when lifting the weights.
4. Try a different cardio machine at the gym. If you always do 30 minutes on the treadmill, try breaking that time up between the treadmill, the elliptical and the stair climber. Doing 10 minutes on each apparatus, you will find that your body exerts itself very differently.
5. Change the intensity of your workouts by decreasing your time and increasing the speed (for cardio) or weight (for strength work). Work with lighter weights one day and do more repetitions, or increase your weights and just try a few (be careful not to overdo it though!). If you are doing cardio work, add some high intensity intervals to your walk or jog. Push yourself hard for one minute after 3 minutes at your regular pace. All of these changes will increase the overall intensity of your workout and help you achieve noticeable results!
6. Try something new! The best way to overcome exercise boredom is to branch out and try something completely different. Stepping out of our normal "comfort zone" can be just what we need to begin to feel the positive benefits of our exercise regimen. Take advantage of different options available based on weather. If you live near a ski area try some downhill skiing or find a groomed trail for cross country work. Intensify your winter walk by donning snow shoes through the woods near your home. If vacation takes you to the beach, try playing in the waves or power walking on the sand. Haven't picked up a tennis racket since summer camp?? Try a clinic at the local Y or find a friend and head to some local courts and give it a try. Just bending down to get the ball will be a good lower body workout! The important thing is to keep yourself interested and challenged.
Exercise should be something that you do because you enjoy it and can see the benefits to your life. You should have more energy, feel stronger, have an increased libido, and resist illness more effectively. When you find yourself in a rut, push yourself to try something new and you will start to see the results!!