Getting a little bored of the same gym routine? Read on to learn how to change up your routine to stave off the boredom!
You already know that getting regular exercise provides a whole host of benefits — more energy, less stress, better sleep, a stronger immune system, higher self-esteem, and a greater shot at living to a ripe old age. That’s why you already make it a point to hit the gym or go for a run almost every day.
Fully half of all people who begin a new workout program abandon it within six months. If you’ve made it past the half-year mark and successfully incorporated regular exercise into your schedule, then congrats! However, you may now be facing a new challenge: the dreaded plateau.
Read on to learn why plateaus happen and why it’s important to change up your gym routine, as well as some expert tips to keep yourself from getting bored.
What’s a Plateau, and Why Is It So Bad?
It’s common for people who are working out for weight loss to hit a plateau, but this phenomenon also occurs to anyone looking to build muscle or increase endurance. A plateau occurs when the gym routine and eating habits that were successful in the past simply stop working.
Believe it or not, your body is pretty darn smart. It also adapts relatively quickly. Workouts are stressors, which trigger your body to respond by rebuilding muscles and burning calories. But after a while, three miles on the treadmill or a 20-minute HIIT routine becomes the norm. A plateau is basically your body saying, “What else ya got?”
Plateaus can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’re used to seeing significant progress. The good news? You won’t be spinning your wheels for very long if you take steps to vary your gym routine every four to six weeks.
Other Reasons to Change Up Your Workout
Getting past a discouraging plateau is a great reason to get out of the gym routine rut. Another is keeping yourself mentally engaged.
If there’s a particular form of exercise that you love, great! In many ways, that’s half the battle. When a workout feels like a punishment or a chore, it can be incredibly difficult to motivate yourself to keep doing it, day in and day out. When you are having fun, on the other hand, you might not even notice that you’re breaking a sweat or putting your body through its paces.
No matter how much you love your usual regimen, however, there are bound to be days when you’d rather stay in bed — or hit the couch for a serious Netflix binge. By trying something new, you can give yourself an extra boost of motivation.
Lastly, changing your gym routine can help prevent injury. Repetitive exercises can lead to muscle overuse, so it’s important to make sure you’re targeting all muscle groups. It’s also smart to aim for flexibility, mobility, and balance, in addition to strength and cardio.
How to Break Out of Your Gym Routine
Ready to get out of that rut? There are a couple of paths that you can take.
Check Out a Class
First, if you belong to a gym, check out the class schedule. The variety of options may just surprise you. Try yoga, pilates, Zumba, spinning, aquafit, kickboxing, pickleball, or an aerial workout. Who knows — you just may fall in love with your gym all over again.
Classes are fun, but there’s also some scientific evidence that working out with others can actually help you reach fitness milestones faster. According to a study published in the Journal of Social Sciences, people tend to emulate their peers when exercising in a group. Another study, this one in the journal Obesity, found that simply spending time with fitter friends can actually an obese individual to lose weight.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Prefer an outdoor workout? Of course, you can walk, run, hike, or bike, but don’t forget about roller skating, rowing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Or go super old-school and bust out a jump rope! Jump ropes are small and lightweight, which makes them perfect for a heart-healthy cardio workout — whether you’re indoors or outdoors, at home or traveling for vacation.
Increase Weight, Reduce Reps
If you love lifting, never fear — there’s a way to mix up your strength routine, too. Rather than the typical one to three sets of eight to 12 reps, try upping the weight by 5% or 10%. See how many reps you can do at that level. When that becomes easy, increase the weight again.
Don’t forget to target complementary muscle groups. That means quads and hamstring, biceps and triceps, pecs and lats. These workouts will ensure a well-toned and balanced physique.
Are bodyweight routines your go-to? Think about the ways that you typically move, and mix that up. For example, if you usually do squats, you’re only moving up and down. Substitute bilateral moves, like lunges. Bilateral exercises also give you the advantage of working each side of your body separately, for more even results.
It’s also easy to switch up your gym routine by categorizing each move as a push or a pull. Say you do pushups and lateral pulldowns every day at the gym. What if you reversed that, and swap in bench presses and pull-ups? Sometimes, small changes like these are all you need to break you out of your habits and get your body responding once again.
You’ve heard of HIIT, but do you know what FITT stands for? Frequency, intensity, time and type. Make changes to any of those factors, and voila! You’ve changed your gym routine.
Runners who enjoy a slow, steady jog for 30 minutes can breath new life into their workout by doing sprints every other day. If you usually use free weights, try kettlebells, medicine balls, or a bodyweight routine.
It might not sound like much, but making fairly minor adjustments like these will get you maximum results. Tiny tweaks to your normal sweat sessions are all that’s needed to catch your body off-guard.
What Does Your Gym Routine Look Like?
Are you addicted to your weekly Bikram yoga class? A diehard runner? A kickboxing powerhouse? Or maybe all you can manage is a walk around the block with your dog. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you’re getting out there and taking charge of your health.
We’d love to hear about your favorite workout, or about any tips for changing things up that we may have forgotten. Leave a comment below to join in the conversation!