If you do the same programme week in week out, you’ll get bored and your gains will plateau – which in turn will decrease your motivation. You need to keep training fun and tax the central nervous system otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Personal trainer Jamie Lloyd (russiankettlebellsuk.com) offers up six strategies you can employ to make sure going to the gym is never monotonous.
1. Get a new strength and conditioning programme
I often see people do the same programmes for months on end. There might be a few people who can tolerate this but, based on my experience with hundreds of the clients over the years, long-term results are far better when people are changing up their moves and having fun. So if you’re still doing the same programme you started on back in the Dark Ages, seek advice from a pro to find a new routine that will keep you on the right track. And keep doing so regularly – every four to six weeks.
2. Tinker with your existing programme
You don’t need to revolutionise your training once a month – often, simply tinkering with your plan is enough. You could increase volume significantly in one training session or a whole week’s worth for a tough challenge before de-loading in the following week. Or you could modify exercise selection or the sets/reps/rest scheme from week to week. The variations you can add are limited only by your creativity, but the important thing is that there is some variation. Otherwise boredom sets in.
3. Buddy up
In my experience, the most successful gym-goers are the ones who train in groups or with a partner. It may be tempting to train with the same person every time but while consistency is certainly a valuable quality in a training partner, in truth people seem to work harder when they’re surrounded by new people. Whether it’s because it creates competition or just because people don’t want to be perceived as lazy, training with a group of strangers can have a big impact on the effort you put in – and the feeling you take away from the session. You never know, you may enjoy it so much you form a new training tribe.
4. Try some new training equipment
Some fitness enthusiasts complain when they go on holiday and find the hotel gym isn’t as up-to-date as what they’re used to. If this happens, don’t just shrug and head to the bar – take the opportunity to do a different kind of workout. It won’t kill you to use your own bodyweight for a week or two, and you certainly won’t waste away if you do tabata training or interval training for a few days. Chances are that you’ll be left sore, and when happy hour comes around later, the physical reminder of your hard work will make you feel better about indulging yourself.
And of course you don’t have to be on holiday to change things up. You could just go for a hill run, or swim in open water, or restrict yourself to the bar or dumbbell or your own bodyweight, or do a week of purely HIIT training. A change is as good as a rest whether you’re at home or in the Caribbean.
5. Challenge yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes I see among gym-goers is failing to track their progress. It only takes a few seconds to write down what you did in a given session, but for some reason, many people don’t. If you can’t remember what you’ve done, how can you determine if you’re making progress towards your goal? And if you’ve no idea if you’re getting anywhere, how will you stay interested?
6. Set the timer and do AMRAP
The easiest way to switch things up. AMRAP stands for ‘As many rounds as possible’ and it’s that simple – just set a timer for five minutes and do as many, say, Turkish get-ups as you can before the buzzer sounds. The time pressure will shove you straight out of your comfort zone. Not hard enough? Rest for five minutes and do it again with another challenging all-body exercise like pull-ups. And so on. I promise you will NEVER get bored!