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Need a Burst of Fitness Inspiration? Try These 10 tips for Busting Out of an Exercise Rut
So, you make plans to go to the gym and get in a great workout. When you get there, or even on the way, you notice you feel a little…lackluster. You find that you’re not motivated to work as hard as usual and you’re just going through the motions so you can get on with the rest of your day. You feel a bit bored and understimulated going through your fitness routine. We all have certain days like this, but if you notice a pattern emerging, you’ve fallen into an exercise rut.
This exercise demotivation is sure to stifle your fitness progress, as you’re likely to either dial down the needed intensity or quit altogether if your fitness situation continues to stagnate. You’ve got to do something to get yourself reinvigorated, and quick! But what?
Check out my ten tips for banishing workout boredom to get some fresh ideas. Feel free to mix and match to find out what will work best for you.
Top 10 Tips for Banishing Workout Boredom
1. Write Down Your Goals!
When you find yourself lacking workout motivation, a great first step is to remember why you started your fitness program in the first place. Did you want to lose a certain amount of weight or inches? Tone up or bulk up your muscles? Were you training for a specific event such as a 10k?
Chances are you have accomplished many of your goals, or at least made a good deal of progress. It’s time to either set some new goals or to firm up the goals that initially motivated you to begin exercising. When you set goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, and timely. A not-so-great-goal would be “I want to lose weight”. While that may be true, it is vague, it cannot be measured, and it has no time frame attached. That is not particularly motivating. Instead, you could rework your goal to be something like “I will lose 10 pounds over the next two months.” Write down your goal and think about it each time you work out or reach for a meal or snack. Write it somewhere you are likely to see it and notice it every day, such as on the fridge or on the frame of your computer screen.
2. Mash Up Your Routine!
Maybe you’re in a rut because you’re doing the same workout time and time again. Not only does this become boring and unmotivating after a while, it’s a sure way to get yourself into a dreaded plateau situation where you stop seeing results. Research new workouts like burst training online or check out books to get some ideas. Make sure that the workouts you are doing are appropriate to progress you toward your fitness goals.
All that being said, don’t mix it up TOO often. If you approach working out haphazardly and do different things every single workout, you’re not going to see the same level of results you would get with more consistency.
3. Try a New Class!
Have you always wanted to try cardio kickboxing? PiYo? Zumba? Bootcamp? Most gyms offer a plethora of classes designed to keep you stimulated and motivated. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Remember that everyone is a beginner at some point and most classes are quite welcoming and helpful to newcomers.
If you’re unsure whether or not a class would be appropriate for you, reach out to the instructor beforehand. The gym staff will have their contact information.
4. Mix Up Your Music!
For me, there is nothing quite as motivating to me when working out as a driving beat. Music keeps my heart pumping and my mood elevated and motivated. If you have a smartphone, your music options are endless. You can either purchase music or subscribe to a music service such as Rhapsody that allows unlimited listening for a set monthly price. I have several workout mixes designed to suit different moods and types of workouts. I listen to music on the way to my workout to help me get pumped up as well.
5. Bring a Book…an Audiobook!
Another audio solution that works well for myself and my clients is to listen to audiobooks or podcasts when doing cardio. This will entertain your brain and make the time pass faster. I don’t recommend bringing an actual book or magazine or attempting to watch TV while exercising. Your eyes will be tracking the text or the screen and can interfere with your form and your intensity. When you’re listening to something, however, you can still maintain ideal posture and alignment and it’s less distracting from the task at hand.
6. Investigate Your Eating Patterns!
If you run out of energy during your workouts, that can be another source of workout demotivation. Everybody has off days, but if this becomes a pattern, you need to look at your nutrition. Exercising on an empty stomach is not a good idea. It’s a myth that you can only burn fat if you exercise without eating first. You need to fuel up before exercise and refill afterwards to make sure your body is able to recover properly.
I recommend eating a small meal/snack of mostly slow-burning carbs and with some protein an hour or two before your workout. After working out, reverse the ratio and eat a more proteinaceous meal/snack with a small amount of carbohydrates within 30-60 minutes.
7. Find a Workout Buddy!
There are several benefits to working out with a partner: you will have more fun, you can give each other ideas and inspiration, you can spot each other, and perhaps most importantly, you can hold each other accountable. You will be less likely to skip out on workouts if you have made a “date” to work out with your buddy. You two can even take it a level further and create a fitness contract with each other where you agree to help each other reach your goals within a certain time frame.
If working out with others works well for you, consider starting a small fitness group of three or more people where you put all your heads together to create interesting and motivating workouts and motivate each other.
8. Take it Outside!
If you always work out inside a gym, maybe you just need a change of scenery and some good ol’ fresh air.
There is a LOT you can do with just bodyweight and/or a small set of dumbbells. There is also plenty of other equipment that you can easily take with you on the move such as an exercise ball, jump rope, or BOSU.
Playground equipment also works great for pull ups, push ups, split squats, jumps & other plyometric exercises. Trail running is a total blast if you generally zone out on the treadmill.
9. Buy a New Workout Outfit!
Before you roll your eyes and go on to the next tip, hear me out on this one. Attractive workout clothes won’t work well to motivate everybody, but for some of us, this is a neat trick that works great to make your workout more fun and more motivating.
Think of how you want to look and feel overall in your life. Why are you working out? I’d be willing to bet that part of the reason you work out is to look great and increase your confidence. If you dress like a total schlub at the gym, every time you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, you are not seeing that attractive, confident person looking back at you. This can be a subtle form of demotivation, especially for women. I’m not saying you should get dolled up or dressed to the nines, but do choose flattering clothes and shoes in colors that make you feel and look good. Just something to consider!
10. Hire a Personal Trainer!
My final exercise motivation tip is to work with a fitness professional to dial in your program. A good personal trainer has been educated in ways to make exercise routines both highly effective and highly motivating for you. Of course, the drive and motivation needs to come from within yourself, but a personal trainer can work with you to uncover what you need to be motivated and successful and help you along the path. Additionally, having an appointment with a trainer makes you less likely to skip your workout even on days when you don’t particularly feel like getting your butt to the gym. It’s like having a workout buddy who is also a trained professional!
If you’re assuming that you could never afford a personal trainer, think again. Many trainers will meet with you as little as a couple times a month to check in and teach you new workouts. Call around to local trainers and ask if they can help you reach your goals without breaking the bank. Many trainers offer package discounts, student & senior specials, and more.
The Bottom Line
I hope these ten tips help you beat the workout boredom blues. Of course, everyone is motivated by different things, so certain approaches will work great for some and not so well for others. Mix and match; take what you like and leave out the rest!
Did I miss any of your favorite fitness motivation tips or techniques? Let us know in the comments below!