Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to your workout routine? Looking to get back to the days when your exercise program was challenging, causing a good kind of muscle soreness over the next few days? Yes, I have said that even a boring workout is better than no workout at all. But boring is not very likely to lead to significant improvements either.
I’ve written previous blog posts stressing the need to modify workout programs on a regular basis in order to see optimal results. Sure, adopting and sticking with a new exercise routine can be tough. That’s why I’ve come up with 11 great tips to inject new life into a boring workout routine and provide the motivation you need to do more than just get to the gym:
1. Time is money–Ok, maybe not literally in the exercise sense, but there is no denying that time is the most precious commodity that we have–it’s the one thing we can never get back, so we must use it wisely, even when it comes to exercising. There’s a saying in the fitness realm–you can train long or you can train hard, but you can’t do both. Be mindful of the clock–don’t stand there chit-chatting between sets! Do short but intense workouts for best results. If you really want to maximize your time, strive for no more than 60 seconds of rest between sets (which will add a cardio benefit to your workout).
2. Combine strength and cardio–As touched upon in #1, add a cardio interval to your program, like 20-second sprints or jumping rope to boost your metabolism while still allowing for added strength. Get out of the mindset that strength and cardio have to be separate entities!
3. Avoid exercise machines–Yes, machines do make your workout a little more user-friendly, but they just can’t match the benefits of free weights. Using free weights will utilize more stabilizing muscles, resulting in burning more calories. Same principle for bodyweight exercises as well, which can be much more effective for calorie-burning and core strengthening than machines.
4. It’s good to be unstable!–Exercises that require you to use balance and coordination stimulate more muscle recruitment (and especially core muscles), than performing the same exercise in a stable position. Obviously you must master the stable positions before you can start performing squats on a wobble board or BOSU ball!
5. Be statuesque–People that have seen me for Physical Therapy know how much I like isometric exercises. Contracting a muscle and holding it in a flexed position provides strength and endurance benefits that are not achieved through traditional isotonic exercise (where you are lifting in constant motion). If you’ve ever tried a wall sit then you know what I mean! Start out with 30-second holds and try to increase the time to 45 seconds, then to a minute as strength and muscular endurance improve.
6. Failure is an option–If you’ve ever heard of someone talking about taking a muscle to failure it simply means that they cannot perform one additional rep of an exercise (while keeping proper form). This means the muscle actually fails to contract any more. This is a good thing! Exercise studies suggest that training to failure can increase strength and improve the body’s ability to build lean muscle. One way to strive for failure is to use super-slow movements using relatively light resistance. The next time you perform a push-up, think about trying to take 10 seconds to complete 1 push-up (again, making sure you maintain proper form).
7. Add resistance–Check this out–a recent exercise study showed that individuals who lifted a heavy weight for only 8 reps burned double the calories of those lifting lighter weights for 15 reps! Try this–keep adding weight in small (2-5lb) increments to an exercise until performing 3 sets of 10 gets so difficult that you can barely complete the last 1 or 2 reps.
8. Complete the circuit–Like I touched on earlier, keep it moving! By moving quickly from one exercise to next with minimal rest in between is a great way to create a time-efficient, cardio-focused workout. If you do happen to be performing a circuit, just make sure you don’t perform back-to-back exercises on the same muscle group to avoid burnout. You want to ensure that each muscle group has sufficient time to recover while the next part of the body is targeted.
9. Keep track and write it down–Think your memory is exceptional? Think you can remember exactly how much weight you used and for how many repetitions for every exercise? By keeping a record of past workouts, you can see measurable progress. This can be attained using a workout journal or fitness app, which doubles as a workout motivator!
10. Pair up–Individuals who have an exercise partner (which doubles as an accountability partner) are more apt to get active and stay active than those attempting to do it on their own. Workout buddies will keep you motivated to work hard during each session. And besides…it’s much more fun to work out with a friend!
11. Keep it social–No, not that social–after all, Tip #1 was to cut the chit-chat! Here I’m talking about social media. Do you really think no one cares what you accomplished in your workout, whether you hit your exercise targets or weight-loss goals? Well surprisingly, the world cares! Studies show that social support gained through posting health and fitness goals increased the likelihood of those goals being achieved. So make some of your fitness goals known to family, friends, or anyone else who will listen, then “just do it!”
There you have it. Now remember, nothing works overnight, and some of the tips I shared might be more effective than others. Just keep an open mind, listen to your body, get proper rest, and eat right! And as always, if you or someone you know needs some guidance in how to start an exercise program, progress one to stay active, or just where to begin to get physical activity into your daily routine, call me at (302)691-9055 or visit my website at www.wildermanphysicaltherapy.com to schedule your FREE 30 minute Discovery Visit to see how Physical Therapy can help. Don’t delay–schedule now!