Most people have a hard time maintaining the motivation to exercise, and a busy schedule can make it even harder. Whether it is job-related stress or overwhelming family responsibilities, there seems to always be a reason to skip the daily workout. The old adage, “Variety is the spice of life,” works wonders when it comes to exercise as well as to life. Switching up workouts and adding variety at the gym makes for major motivation to reach fitness goals.
A simple way to add variety to a workout in order to stay motivated is to incorporate cardio activities and active rest into a strength training routine. For instance, four sets of bench presses becomes a much different exercise when incorporating running before each set. A quarter of a mile on the treadmill or a minute on a treadmill set to 10-12 mph before each set of presses will really work up a good sweat.
Active rest is a technique which works well during leg work. Adding 100 jumps with a rope, 50 jumping jacks, or 30 seconds of mountain climbers in between sets of squats is a good way to double the efficiency of a workout as well as add variety to routine leg training; all of which will help in maintaining motivation to work out.
Adding a minute or two on the stair climber or the rowing machine will also switch things up. One who has already incorporated cardio into their routine will also find greater motivation upon varying their exercises. This can be done by simply working as fast as possible during the last 15 seconds of each minute.
Those seeking variety at the gym in order to make some major motivation may find it by taking a fitness class. Classes are a great way to incorporate many different kinds of exercises into the same boring routine, and could possibly teach even the fittest people in the class a new trick or two. Sessions vary from body sculpting, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and more; all of which are great ways to burn fat and build muscle. Men who feel as if they have nothing to learn from a class may just discover that what they have overlooked for so long could be the very thing they needed to jump-start their motivation. Instructors are trained to modify their workouts to be appropriate for any fitness level or ability.
Another small change that can up motivation is to switch up splits, sets, and reps. On one week, work the chest and triceps together, the back and biceps together, and the shoulders and legs together. On the next week, switch it up and do upper body and lower body splits. The week after that, full body workouts can be done. By changing the order in which the reps are done, the workout will not seem to be the same old boring routine.
In the same vein, the number of reps can be changed weekly. On week one, 15-20 reps can be done, but on the next week, the number can be changed to 6-8 reps. Another way to feel as though a workout is new is to change the rep scheme from one exercise to the next in the same weekend. For example, on a leg day, do squats first. Try heavy weights for sets of six before switching to front extensions using lighter weights for 15 sets. Focusing on the negative, or eccentric, portion of the movement, and performing that movement for six counts, is another great way to add variety to a workout, which will help to maintain motivation. For example, a negative push-up would entail lowering the body for a count of six, going a little lower as each second passes. Once the body is all the way down, push up as in a regular push-up.
Using new equipment as part of a workout instead of the same old dumbbells, barbells, and pin-loaded machines is a great way to force muscles to move differently. Kettlebells and the suspension trainer TRX work very well for this. Tires, sandbags, and another strong-man apparatus, if available, are intense ways to really feel the burn. By asking the employees questions and getting to know the function of the different equipment available at the gym, a workout need never be routine again, making lost motivation a thing of the past.
Lastly, mix everything already mentioned into a big circuit. Although challenging, circuits can be very rewarding, as they leave a person feeling as though they were pushed to the limit during the workout. Circuits can include as many exercises as the person working out feels like doing. It is important to remember that when doing circuits, a lighter weight than normal should be used.
Sample Circuit One:
Do one time with no rest in between exercises
Heavy bag for 60 seconds; jab, cross, hook combo
10 TRX jump squats
10 push-ups with BOSU
5 kb swing each arm
15 cable crunches
30 seconds of mountain climbers
30-second hold of yoga chair pose
Sample Circuit Two:
60 seconds of jumping rope
10 tire flips
Dumbbell lunge and curl combo; 8 on each leg and 8 on each arm
8 push-ups using 6-second negative
10 TRX chest press
5 one-arm kettlebell clean and press each arm
8 dips using 6-second negative
30 seconds of yoga downward-facing dog hold.
In the modern gym, equipped with all types of technologically-advanced equipment as well as throwback gear such as tires, ropes, and kettlebells, finding a way to vary a workout is no problem. Switching up the routine and adding variety by doing different activities each day makes working out less of a chore and finding major motivation much easier.
Opinion by Adam Hovorka
Askmen.com: Staying Motivated To Work Out
Image Courtesy of speedoglyn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License