Have you ever been one of those people who go to the gym and find yourself doing the same routine day after day and finally reach a point where you think to yourself if this is fun anymore? The monotony of lifting weights and cardio is enough to drive anyone crazy when it is the only outlet that we leave ourselves with exercise. Sure it is still beneficial and healthy to do this type of regimen but it can simply become boring over a period of time. So the real question is how can you make exercise fun again? Because what is the point of working out if you grow to hate it and find it to be almost insufferable. Here are some simple solutions to help make even the most mundane of workout routines enjoyable.
Change up the cardio. There is nothing worse than putting on those running shoes and stepping outside of your house and running the same route over and over. Or hopping on the treadmill and setting the timer to 20 minutes at the same speed while you catch up on the latest Bravo reality show or podcast. To some this can feel perfectly normal but over time the body starts to become complacent and so does the cardiovascular endurance. You have to be willing to push the envelope and introduce something new to continue to push yourself to more distant limits.
I recommend to try HIT or Fartlek training as a way to improve your cardio. HIT stands for high intensity interval training and Fartlek is Swedish for the term “speed play”. This does not mean that you have to be a world class sprinter to perform these types of exercise but it will be difficult for those who are not used to a higher speed of running for their workouts. These are a few different variations of this type of cardiovascular workout.
1. Fast and slow – Start with a 2 minute walk in order to get warmed up. Follow this with a fast 30 second sprint followed by a 90 second slow walk. Repeat the 30 second sprint and 90 second walk for a total of 10 times. This will not only help you knock out 20 minutes of cardio effectively but you will be feeling great afterwards.
2. Mailboxes – Some people do not like to use watches to time themselves when running in the neighborhood so a simple rule of thumb to mark a starting and stopping point is a mailbox. Running for a distance of three mailboxes then walking for two is a good rule of thumb. This can always be changed depending on the person but give it a try in order to perform HIT cardio.
3. Low intensity sprint – This is an easy way to incorporate a little high intensity into the normal routine. Perform the same running routine as before but at the 5 minute mark try to increase the speed to a higher level for 1 minute then resume back to normal speed. Do this again at the 10 minute mark and so on for every 5 minutes during the run.
Perform a MetCon. No word strikes more fear into the hearts of those not in the CrossFit community. But this type of workout is not solely meant for the fittest people on earth or those people who strictly belong to a CrossFit box. The word “MetCon” is short for metabolic conditioning which is a combination of high-intensity cardio in combination with strength movements. Most people who are not into Olympic lifting prefer to substitute heavy compound lifts such as weighted squats, cleans and presses with air squats, push-ups and sit-ups. These complex circuits can also implement things such as kettlebells, battle ropes and even big tires.
This is a great type of workout to help break up the monotonous workout routine and to add in cardiovascular endurance as well. You can search online for plenty of different MetCon routines that best suit the movements that you are comfortable with in the beginning. Be sure over time to implement new movements to help take you out the comfort zone and push yourself to new limits.
One of the best parts of doing a MetCon is that it incorporates all three pathways of metabolism. The creatine phosphate pathway which is used for immediate power movements that range up to 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the glycolytic pathway is activated for strength movements and intermediate running ranging from 3 to 4 minutes. And lastly is the aerobic pathway for over 10 minutes of moderate intensity workouts.
Use slow, controlled eccentric contractions with weights. You might have seen your typical “bro” immediately go into the weights area at your local gym and start busting out bicep curls with no warm-up and performing them as quickly as possible. He might increase his weight over time with this movement but only to the determinant of his joints. This routine of lifting not only wears your joints down over time but begins the downward cycle of boredom with going to the gym. The best way to lift weights is with slowing down your eccentric contractions.
This is the elongation phase of the movement or “negative” motion. By doing this you are taking the muscle group to its end range for maximum lengthening which has shown to help muscles grow. So, the next time you perform a bicep curl be sure to lower the weight slowly and with control. You will easily find out that the 3 sets of 10 that you performed before will be more difficult but what you gain from it will make all of the difference. Sure, there will be more soreness the next day just like with all of the other lifts that you perform that day but your muscles will thank you later.