Have you been working out so long that your program is getting boring? Or, are you just finding it difficult to continue? Are you complacent in your training and not reaching your goals? Well, you’re not alone. As difficult as it is to get on the fitness bandwagon, it’s just as difficult to stay there and maintain the fitness lifestyle when you simply get tired or bored with the same old routine(s). It’s a problem every pro and every beginner will face. Injuries here and there, a severe cold, boredom, just plain tired and the body doesn’t want to do it. Don’t worry; be happy, there’s help on the horizon.
Carla Sanchez, former IFBB Fitness Pro and James Tindall, Ph.D. have trained some of the finest athletes on the planet. Even with the very specific goals most of them have, it’s not always a bed of roses to keep them going. If it’s difficult for those whose goals are very specific, how much more difficult is it for the novice? If you’ve ever felt like just quitting, read our tips below. They are not all inclusive, but encompass the major points. So, let the good times roll and keep your workout turbo charged.
Be Specific about your program. You must set specific goals if you hope to achieve your desires. If you’ve been using the same old routine, obtain a new, more difficult workout that will push you. And, if you’re not already doing so, try a periodized workout. They are very challenging.
Emphasize the positive: Don’t say to yourself, “I can’t.” Tell yourself, “I can and I want to be physically fit.” A positive mind-set makes all the difference. If you’re part of a team, buoy each other with positive comments. Like a rotten apple in the barrel that can contaminate all the others, one person with a negative attitude can cause a downward fitness spiral for him or herself and all others on a team or those associated with.
Be realistic: Work out at a level that you can perform, not easy, but not so hard that you can’t accomplish your exercises in a given period. If you find your program too difficult, do as much as you can in a specific time period and try to increase your intensity each workout until you can perform all you are given to perform or all that you are trying to accomplish.
Think long term: You must be both patient and persistent. If you’re trying to get a specific look or attempting to attain a specific fitness level or skill, it will not likely happen in a few weeks or even months. Pick a fitness hero and find out about them. How long has he or she been involved in fitness, bodybuilding, or sport? You’ll likely find they have been at it for awhile. There are no short cuts, only hard work and dedicated effort. If you desire to be fit and muscular, it will not happen overnight. Is not the joy in the journey rather than the destination?
Reward yourself: Whether you’re an amateur or training for that elusive Mr. or Ms. Olympia, you must treat yourself occasionally. As you continue to train hard and are persistent, you should feel free to treat yourself. The treat can be in the form of a specific food or time off. Sometimes when we become too rigid, each step we don’t accomplish or each goal we fail to meet at a specific time can become self defeating, which creates a mental negativity and mindset. Accentuate the positive and remember that no one is perfect and not every goal will be achieved on time. Thus, don’t go on a binge or extended hiatus, but temper your training with small rewards that ease the stress. Over the long term, the rewards of consistent training will be self evident.
Make it convenient: Select a training facility and/or trainer that allow you easy and frequent access. If you have to travel long distances to accomplish your training goals, training will not usually last. Those who are able to do this usually have very specific goals that only a specific trainer or facility can fulfill. However, even though training may not be as convenient as having a gym at home or a block away, don’t make excuses for not doing it. If you find it impossible on some days to get to the gym, there is always the opportunity to walk, jog, bike, or do pushups and sit ups around your home or apartment. Actually, you should expect such to occur and develop an at home or traveling workout as a fallback. See our “Workout” section for some of these.
Setbacks: It is inevitable that all of us, at one time or another will as they say, “fall off the wagon.” There are an endless number of setbacks that can occur in the marathon of life and fitness. Whether it is an injury, sickness, or a mental attitude, take charge. The longer you delay in getting back on the program, the harder it is to establish new habits.
Goals: Set new, yet specific goals to reinvigorate your stale workout regimen. If you’ve been doing the same old bodybuilding stuff for awhile, switch it up with interval training, sprints, and speed-strength type exercises. Ask yourself, “What would I like to do this year?” Based on your answer, set a specific, attainable goal for it then, design a training plan to achieve it.
Improvise: Face it, sometimes, no matter what you plan; you just get bored with your workout. So, don’t take it so seriously. Its early spring, you’ve been working out inside all winter and you just can’t take it anymore. The suns shining and you ache to get outside. But, you know you’ll feel guilty if you slack off. The answer, take your workout to the outdoors. Go to the local park and pursue your workout with a more playful attitude. Oh! What’s that, there are no bench presses or squat racks? Not to worry. Here’s what Jim and Carla do. Challenge yourself. Begin a slow jog around the park. At each 45 second interval perform 10 squat jumps (in place) or 10 triceps pushups then, resume your run. Each time you pass a picnic bench, do 20 triceps dips on the bench and superset this with 15-25 pushups. Resume your run and jump routine. After 10 minutes or so you’ll have a great sweat going. Next, try walking lunges for 3 minutes then; resume your run/jump/dip pattern again. There are endless ways to mix it up and challenge yourself. You can utilize weighted vests, medicine balls, running chutes and lots of other equipment that’s easy to carry. Maybe you didn’t get in that 300 lb bench or squat, but you had fun, took the boredom out of your workout, reduced your stress level, and broke your workout monotony without sacrificing your fitness level.
Keep track: Maintain a daily training log. Keep track of weight loads, physical stresses, i.e., how a particular lift and load made you feel, and length and duration of exercise. Make special notes of pains or soreness and whether certain exercises accentuate them.
Nutrition: Dr. Tindall recommends an abundance of vegetables each day and 2-3 servings of fruit. Watch your carbs and eat healthy. Treat yourself here once in awhile to break the monotony of your diet. If you eat a balanced diet that has variety and use moderation, you’ll look and feel great.
Variety: Avoid getting stuck in a rut. Every exercise program you perform should mix a variety of strength, cardio, flexibility, and relaxation exercises. Plan your program so it has a good mix and switch it up all the time. Monotony is the key to lack of progress. One of the main benefits of the workout programs that MyHealthandFitness designs for your is that they are never the same thus, they keep the body guessing.
Rest: One cannot work out all the time without periodic rests being built into your training. Without rest there will be fatigue, overtraining, plateaus, possible injuries, and a very negative mental attitude. To avoid this, plan periods of rest during the year. The rest periods will vary based on the individual. Sometimes they will occur less frequently than desired due to an extra competition you wish to compete in, travel, etc. As a general rule of thumb, Dr. Tindall recommends you take a rest period at the end of each 12 weeks, especially if you are training intensely, i.e., the advanced level. For the first week you do nothing but rest, no exercise of any kind. By the way, snowboarding, skiing, biking and the like do not qualify as rest. This will help you recover and rest the body from the long strenuous workouts you’ve been doing. On the second rest week, perform a variety of cross-training exercises. Try walking, biking, anything different than what you were doing in training. Workout at an easy to light/moderate pace. Then, on the third week, begin a slow buildup (see below).
Week 3 – resuming workouts after 2-week break:
Day 1, lift light to moderate weight loads; 50-60% MHR for cardio,
Day 2, lift upper light to moderate loads; 55-65% MHR for cardio,
Day 3, lift moderate to moderately heavy; 65-75% MHR for cardio,
Day 4, lift moderately heavy to light heavy; 75-80% MHR for cardio,
Day 5, lift light heavy to heavy; 80-90% MHR for cardio.
MHR = maximum heart rate.
At the end of this period, begin full blown workouts once again. If you’re in a hurry, which would nullify the concept of rest, you can use week 3 in lieu of week 2, but not recommended.