Have you ever thought about how many times you train in a gym? If you've squatted once a week for two years in a conventional 3x10 rep scheme, you've squatted in a gym nearly five thousand times.
The reversibility of training effect drives many of us to stay consistent in our training. Stop training and you get weaker, keep going and you at least stay the same. Successful athletes train the longest. The challenge arises when potential progress is overshadowed by the apathy that comes with going to the same place to do the same exercises in the same order until the end of time.
Below we've pulled together a few methods to avoid boredom at the gym. These aren't prescriptive- just tools to get your creative juices flowing when you're just not feeling like training.
1. Tighten up the Rest Periods
ACTION: Download a timing app on your phone or invest in a stopwatch to ensure that you are always on the ball with your rest periods.
WHY: Rest intervals dictate the quality of the training set, and adherence to them can keep you focused during training while also helping you see improved results.
2. Find a Gym Partner
ACTION: Choose wisely here, as finding someone who truly supports your training can reap impressive rewards. Not only will they spot you during maximal sets but if you pick the right person, they'll help you with Method 1 by telling you to shut up once in a while and get back to work.
WHY: This article outlines the benefits of having a spotter during the Bench Press. This can easily be extrapolated out to apply to other exercises. Improved performance simply by having a buddy around should not be ignored.
3. Shorten Up Your Training Blocks
ACTION: Use a four-week training block.
WHY: Long programs are hard for everybody. They're hard to write from a coach's perspective and hard to adhere to from a training perspective. Using four-week training blocks can provide the glorious feelings of starting and finishing a training block more frequently. Everybody tries hard during the first and last few weeks of a training program.
4. Take Music Out
ACTION: Remove the headphones.
WHY: Always listening to music while training can lead someone to feel alone at the gym. If you've never heard yourself breathe hard due to the Metallica crushing your stereocilia, take the Beats off for a training session and get in touch with your training environment.
5. Put the Music Back In
ACTION: Reverse Anti-Boredom Method 4.
WHY: If you always train with the sound of strangers' breathing filling your ears, take a walk on the wild side and see if Kelly Clarkson can't re-motivate your training sessions.
6. Attend a Group Fitness Class
ACTION: I get it, attending group fitness can sound like a death sentence. A generic program for you? After all the attention you spend on your training? What a ridiculous idea.
WHY: Adam Virgile, a sport scientist formerly with the New York Rangers and now teaching at the University of Vermont, talks about a study showing improved motivation to exercise with no negative effects toward muscle size or strength when introducing exercise variation into a training program. You can find it here.
Group fitness can pay dividends by introducing exercise variation into your program, helping you with tightening up rest periods without individual effort. It also surrounds you with some new people who are, from experience, extremely high energy. If you don't like an exercise in a given class, ask for a substitution. Group fitness instructors love when people who are serious about their training attend their classes.
7. Get a Personal Trainer
ACTION: Try out a few "free assessment" days or ask friends for referrals.
WHY: A personal trainer provides an assessment, program and accountability to you. Having someone write your program for you can take the guesswork out and allow you to just train and have fun! As a personal trainer I train a number of other personal trainers for exactly this reason.
Even if you are an accomplished program writer, constantly doing your own programs can lead to a lack of adherence, a "blinder" effect to new training concepts and above all, boredom.
8. Switch Personal Trainers
ACTION: Same as Method 7 with new people!
WHY: If you're finding yourself bored with a program, provide that feedback to your trainer and see if there are any adjustments made. If not, then they aren't listening to you anyway.
This method should be used as a last resort, as for the most part personal trainers do a great job switching up their programming and keeping clientele involved.
Go find yourself a good one! They're all over the place.
Summary: Keep it fresh!
These eight methods to avoid boredom at the gym are tools to get your creative juices flowing. When you're just not feeling your training program, remember it's not a sprint- Successful athletes train the longest.
Regardless of the training program that you're on, the success you find within the gym will be directly related to your ability to stay in it. If boredom is crushing your heart and soul as you drive yourself to the gym after a long day of work or particular short bout of sleep, try some of these methods to rejuvenate your training.
Photo Credit: aldarinho/iStock
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