How to Break Out of a Fitness Rut
Here’s the great exercise paradox: if you want to lose weight, feel better, and achieve your health goals, you have to stick to a fitness routine. That means hitting the gym regularly at least three days a week—but it doesn’t mean running through the same workout day in, and day out. So do the same thing, but do it different? Okay, sure.
Our bodies are no different from our minds—they need to be challenged from time to time to stay active and agile. If you’re settling into the same tired routine every time you work out, you just won’t see the same results you used to. And not only will your progress plateau, you’ll probably also find that you’re just not there for your work out, from a mental and emotional perspective, too.
Sound familiar? Don’t worry, even the best athletes suffer from fitness burnout sometimes. All you really need to do is to give yourself a new reason to hit the gym running. Need some suggestions? Try one of the following to breathe some fresh life into your fitness routine.
Switch Up Environment
Used to hitting the same trail every time you lace up your running shoes? Or maybe have a favorite elliptical machine that you always head for? Pat yourself on the back for your sticktoitivity—staying with a workout program is no easy feat! Still, if your routine is feeling a little more meh and a little less wow these days, you may need to shake things up a tiny bit.
When the workout blahs hit, it’s important to investigate the source. If you’re still seeing positive results on the physical side—i.e., you still feel tired after a workout, or are still losing weight and gaining muscle definition—then the root of your fitness ennui could be mostly mental.
That’s when a new environment can make all the difference. If you’re a jogger, seek out a new trail or route—RunKeeper has a huge database of saved paths you can investigate, if you need inspiration. Not into running? Try a trendy class like floating yoga, or hardcore parkour. Even a new spot in the gym and a fresh, energizing playlist may be just the shot in the arm you need, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
Make Fitness a Group Effort
No matter how much of a lone wolf you are, you can probably benefit from a little encouragement now and then. Sometimes workouts grow stagnant because we’re not giving ourselves the credit we deserve—or pushing ourselves to the limit, as the case may be.
A supportive friend, class instructor, or a personal trainer can all be a lifeline here. Personal training, in particular, comes with the added benefit of an individualized workout program, designed just for you. Tell your trainer what you’ve been doing, and that your old routine just isn’t cutting it anymore. A pro will help you understand the source of your frustration, and may recommend compound exercises, circuits, and other unique movements you’ve never heard of before. Anything to keep challenging those muscles!
Gamify Your Routine
Nothing gives you a rush of satisfaction quite like meeting a fitness goal. But when workouts grow stale, some of that fun dies off too. A little friendly competition can put some flavor back into your gym sessions. Many wearable trackers allow you to create fitness challenges with your friends to see who’s the real gym rat in the group. Or you can go for a solo initiative with an app that will pay you for working out, like Pact or AchieveMint.
Other apps focus solely on the fun. Game apps like Zombies, Run!, and Burn Your Fat with Me give you a set of challenges to complete, and allow you to earn points and level up.
If those don’t sound like your cup of tea, what about an educational yoga app like Daily Yoga? Or think about signing on for a fun event, like the Color Run or Murder Mystery 5K. There are tons of ways to integrate a little entertainment into your exercise, so get out your phone and start tapping!
Re-examine Your Goals
There’s no law saying you shouldn’t shoot for the moon with your fitness goals, but the moon landing wasn’t planned in a day. If you always have a hard time finishing your workouts, or if you notice that you’re usually really sore afterwards—like sitting down hurts sore—you could be pushing yourself too hard.
Real progress takes patience. Maybe you need to break your goal of running a marathon into some smaller, bite-sized achievements, like boosting your daily mileage or upping the length you run without walking. That way, there will be something to celebrate long before you finally cross that finish line. And you’ll be better able to gauge your progress as well.
Take a realistic look at your goals (or if you don’t have any, define some for yourself!), and estimate how far away from them you are. If it’s a long shot, give yourself some smaller challenges—you’ll get there one day, and you won’t be frustrated in the meantime.
With any luck, these ideas will banish banal workouts—at least for a little while, that is!