There are events that happen in each of our lives which make us decide that we need to do some exercise. Whether it’s noticing your growing gut, your significant other leaving you, or your motivation to wear that summer bikini, there’s always that reason which pushes you to work hard on your body.
Well, I should say that for most people, that’s the case. My situation was different and more depressing. You see, I was an addict. We’re talking drugs and alcohol with no remorse and no interest in their effects on my body. I lived for those artificial highs, and they dragged me deep down.
It got so bad that I needed to check into a rehab clinic and get the outside help necessary for proper recovery. I learned a lot during my time in there. Undergoing drug and alcohol treatment was a challenge. There were many time where I felt like I was being cornered, and just wanted to get away. Regardless, I pushed on through and completed the 28 days. Upon my release, my sponsor said one thing to me which stuck. He said, “natural highs are way better than artificial ones. You get natural highs from developing your relationships, finding self fulfillment, and exercising a ton.”
The two former examples took a bit more time to reach, but I saw immediate results from working out. It started as a way to keep my mind off the cravings, and eventually became my favorite part of the day.
Even so, there are always low points in whatever passion one has. I started getting bored of my routine and ended up going to the gym less. I was gaining weight again, and losing my self-confidence. According to BodyBuilding.com, 66% of adults in the United States make getting fit their New Year’s resolution. Of those people, 73% give up after some time. I was starting to understand why.
The solution was finding ways to reinvent and maximize my workout plan. I read hundreds of blog posts, some of them with great ideas, others that made no sense (I’m looking at you, all meat diet). Plenty of tips and tricks are littered all around the internet, but quite a few don’t actually work. Here are a few of the ones that kept my workout sessions interesting:
1. Change Up Your Music
I quickly realized that going to the gym and listening to what was blaring on the loudspeaker was definitely not for me. In the exercise world, people often refer to the “zone.” In layman’s terms, it’s the mental state we get into when we’re 100% concentrated on the exercise, and perform our very best. Music makes it easier for you to enter the “zone.”
It has also been proven to alter your heart rate, reduce physical and mental stress, as well as reduce fatigue. The benefits are plenty, but it also depends on the type of music you listen to. For me, I got tired of listening to the same workout playlist I had created for myself. What I did was take recommendations from friends and the internet on the best music to listen to while exercising.
That way, I created an endless list of songs to pump weights to and run with. When I let my songs play random, I discovered new ones I loved and those let me unleash more energy in the moment. I still ask for recommendations to this very day.
2. Vary Your Workout Time
Someone I met at the gym once told me that he doesn’t need to work out every day because he pushes himself for 3 hours at the end of the week, and that makes up for the rest of the days he missed. Wrong, my friend. Not only is working out for more than one hour non-beneficial, it can actually turn detrimental after 90 minutes.
Experts advocate for a 30-40 minute daily workout, with cardio lasting no longer than 20 minutes. If you spend the time equivalent of a movie on the elliptical, you’re not doing much for yourself. Keep your cardio sessions short, and interchange them with high-intensity workouts like Tabata.
3. Add Variety To Your Exercises
Maybe you’ve reached that point where you say to yourself, great, now I have to hit the treadmill again. I definitely did. At one point I knew my routine so well that I knew exactly what time I would start wanting to go home. If gets repetitive, then it’s time to add variety to your exercises.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to work on different muscles or change your goals. There are plenty of exercises that all impact the same muscle groups or allow you to keep on the right track. For example, instead of getting on the treadmill you can do some jump rope. The benefits are exactly the same and you can do it anywhere, without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a home machine you’ll never use. There are plenty of ways to add variety to your routine.
4. Find Cardio Exercises You Love
Cardio isn’t only found in the gym. While you’re there it makes sense to hop on a stationary bike, but the dull TV channel in front of you might make the minutes go by all too slowly. Instead, get your cardio in by doing something you love. Go for a hike, play a sport, or get on a real bicycle.
The point is, having a real scenery in front of you can make a huge difference in keeping things fresh while still getting the exercise you need. I developed a true passion for basketball. Now, every weekend I get together with my friends and have friendly games. If your friends are too busy, there are many other forums and Facebook groups for people who do group games and outings. Who knows, you might even make some new friends!
If you don’t let your body rebuild, you’ll end up going to the gym all sore and you’ll have a bad time. When I first started exercising, I pushed myself really hard the first few times, and then for an entire week, I could barely walk. I was asking myself what I had done wrong. It was frustrating to want to spend time exercising, only to be stopped by soreness.
Little did I know, there are many important steps to be taken which ensure your body recovers in a timely manner. Among the methods to speed up recovery are eating more protein, sleeping more, and taking a cold bath. Soreness can be a real drag, don’t let it get in the way of achieving your goals!
Among the many tips and tricks I researched and tested myself, the above five have proven to be the most effective for me. They keep me motivated and I maximize my time working out due to keeping things fresh. It can get tedious to treat your gym time as a broken record. They’re not major changes either, just subtle differences that inject new life into your workout plan. Give them a try, hopefully they’ll do the same for you as they did for me.
What other ways to can you think of to change up your exercise routine? Let us know in the comments!