Do you ever get bored with your workouts?
Have you noticed your motivation or enthusiasm for hitting the gym declining over time?
Would you like to actually look forward to and enjoy your workouts on a weekly basis?
I’m of the opinion that, the majority of the time, you should look forward to and actually enjoy your workouts. If you’re not, then something needs to change. And it needs to change now.
Here are 10 tips you can apply so you can start to love your workouts, stay motivated, and achieve the results you’re after.
1) Make it all about performance.
This tip alone has been the catalyst for keeping trainees motivated to work out consistently with a new passion and focus.
Think about it. Most popular workout programs focus primarily on achieving as much fatigue as possible. These workout programs encourage you to work yourself into a sweaty mess every time you enter the gym.
If you don’t finish completely exhausted on the verge of collapsing and vomiting, then you didn’t work hard enough, or so you’re led to believe.
I don’t know about you, but if my only goal is to completely wear myself out each workout, then my enthusiasm for those workouts quickly decreases. I’d dread each and every session, and I certainly wouldn’t have fun.
That’s why I encourage trainees to focus on their performance and training to be even more awesome.
I mean really give it an honest shot for a couple of months.
Don’t worry about achieving fatigue or burning as many calories as possible. Focus entirely on doing a little better each and every workout. Whether you perform an extra rep, add just a single pound to the bar, challenge yourself with more advanced exercises, decrease the rest periods between sets and exercises, or improve your conditioning to a new level.
If your main workout goal has been to train as hard and long as possible, then I encourage you to start focusing on nothing but your performance each workout.
Strive to do just a little better each time, even if it’s with just one exercise.
Your goal with each workout will be simple and motivating — do better than last time.
2) Ask yourself, “What would I actually enjoy doing?” And then take appropriate action.
You don’t have to lift super heavy weights for low reps.
You don’t have to include metabolic based training in your routine.
You don’t have to deadlift a straight bar.
You don’t have to perform finishers or brutal conditioning drills.
You don’t have to perform total body workouts or follow an upper/lower split.
Too often trainees force themselves to perform exercises they don’t like, and even exercises they’re not suited to perform safely. Or they may apply certain loading guidelines, even if they hate them.
Right now squatting and deadlifting heavy weights is the popular thing to do for women strength trainees. Now, I’m incredibly proud and excited that more and more women are building their strength to new levels, but, the fact remains that some women just don’t enjoy it.
I’ve had a few conversations with women who tell me, “Nia, I know I should perform heavy barbell back squats, but I just don’t like them. They don’t feel right and I hate having a bar on my back.”
Now, some people would reply with, “Suck it up, sister” but I would much rather people perform exercises they actually enjoy.
For example, that same woman swapped out heavy back squats for double dumbbell squats in the 8-12 rep range (dumbbells held at the shoulders) on my recommendation. She’s still squatting, but with a variation she enjoys.
Along the same line, some women don’t enjoy lifting heavy weights, resting 60-120 seconds between sets, and repeating. For many, they’re bored with that type of training. Again, I’ve spoken with women who have said this very thing when they hire me for distance coaching.
I design for them a strength training program that doesn’t have long and frequent rest periods so they keep moving. For example, instead of performing straight sets I’ll have them do super sets and circuits instead. This way they keep moving and get more accomplished in less time.
On the other end of the spectrum, I have clients who absolutely hate high rep training, so we exclude it or keep it to a minimum.
Bottom line — do something you enjoy, not just because someone claims “this is the best way”. You’ve gotta enjoy your workouts.
3) What’s something you’d like to be able to do?
This tip is performance based and is a terrific way to boost workout motivation.
All you need to do is come up with 1-3 goals you’d like to achieve.
Maybe you want to perform 10 flawless push-ups.
Perhaps you want to achieve a double bodyweight deadlift.
Maybe it’s time you progress to performing your first chin-up.
Maybe you want to improve your conditioning so you don’t gas out on a long hike or pick-up game of soccer.
Just come up with a few goals that interest you; they can be strength or conditioning based, or just something you think would be awesome to achieve.
Personally, I did this a year ago. I wanted to be able to perform handstand push-ups for the first time, so that’s the goal I was determined to achieve. This new challenge ignited a new excitement for training.
Choose 1-3 goals you want to achieve, and set your program up according. Once you achieve those, pick a few more and repeat.
4) Incorporate some new training tools into your workout program.
Using new workout tools is a fun and easy way to shake things up.
If you’ve been using nothing but dumbbells and/or barbells, try out some other toys.
Here’s a brief list of tools you may want to consider using:
- Suspension trainer
- Run hill or stadium sprints
- Use a weight vest for loading (push-ups, inverted rows, squats, lunges, etc)
- Push and pull a sled
It’s amazing the difference you’ll feel if you load squats or lunges with a sandbag or weight vest as compared to dumbbells or a barbell. It’s a whole new challenge.
You can even play around with some machines like Hammer Strength equipment, if your gym has them, or include leg presses (if you don’t currently do them) in your training routine.
Sometimes a little variety goes a very long way for spurring some new motivation and excitement.
Or you can do the complete opposite and perform a training phase exclusively with bodyweight exercises for a new challenge.
5) Perform new exercises.
This could also be incorporated with the tip above if you use new equipment.
You don’t have to do crazy exercises; you can simply try different exercise variations. For example, if you normally perform barbell back squats, switch to front squats or goblet squats for a change.
Or maybe you can learn some new exercises all together, such as one arm dumbbell snatches.
Taking the time to learn new exercises is a great way to reignite your workout motivation. It’s also a great way to bust through any strength, fat loss, and muscle building plateaus.
6) Try out the buddy-method.
If you currently work out solo, try to recruit a friend.
Most of the time I work out on my own, but some of the most fun and productive workouts I’ve had were with a great training partner(s).
A great partner can push you to work harder and truly challenge yourself. And for many people social support helps them be more consistent with working out.
As an example, I set my all-time best deadlift personal record surrounded by some incredible women and coaches. Having them cheer me on was great motivation.
Here’s a fun idea if you have a workout buddy. You can employ the “I go, you go” workout technique. You simply alternate sets — you perform a set of an exercise, and then immediately after you complete the set, your workout buddy goes. Alternate back and forth until you complete however many sets you want to do.
7) Change it up.
Do a different workout split, different exercises, different sets and reps, etc.
This is a super simple tip. Completely change up whatever you’re doing. Want to make it even easier? Do the complete opposite of what you’re doing now.
Do you normally train heavy with lower reps? Start using higher rep sets. Train primarily with barbell exercises? Try using dumbbells for most exercises. Use an upper/lower workout split? Give total body workouts a try. Normally take long rest breaks between sets? Try to decrease the rest periods. Do you use mostly compound exercises? Sprinkle in a few isolation exercises where appropriate.
There are dozens of options to choose from.
8) Tackle a new goal.
Most women focus solely on getting leaner and losing body fat. Maintaining that focus for an extended period of time is mentally and physically exhausting. If you’ve been focusing on fat loss, it’s time to change things up.
A new goal can be very refreshing, motivating, and a heck of a lot of fun.
9) Stop trying to be perfect.
Trying to do things perfectly all the time is exhausting. And things like “The Skinny Rules” only exacerbate the problem of striving for perfection.
I know plenty of trainees who obsess with the minute details of a training program. They strictly measure rest periods between sets, force themselves to do better than the last workout even if they don’t feel well, and as a result, they don’t enjoy the workout.
It’s no secret I value training for performance and I encourage trainees to strive to do better at each workout.
But sometimes it pays to just relax and enjoy the workout for what it is. To pay attention to the muscles working during each exercise. To be proud of what your body is capable of doing. It’s a tough challenge to focus on what your body can do instead of obsessing over how it looks. But, when you truly try, you’ll realize your self worth is not related to how you look.
Don’t obsess with doing things “correctly” all the time. Relax and have some fun with your workouts.
If you’re currently caught up in the small details, relax and have some unstructured fun with your workouts.
10) Try working out less.
Many people may actually do better by working out less.
If you’ve been strength training four or more times per week, experiment with working out three times per week.
By working out less frequently, you’ll (hopefully) actually look forward to your workouts. Plus, it’s very common for trainees who are accustomed to training most days per week to have more energy and make better strength improvements when they scale back their training to three days per week.
Now this doesn’t mean you have to sit on your butt the other days you’d normally train; take this available time to engage in something fun. That’s what I do when I strength train three day per week. I find other, more fun, ways to be physically active.
If the only physical activity you prefer is strength training, then you can do some easy conditioning work on non-lifting days such as going for a walking, jumping rope, or running some easy hill sprints.
Bottom line — you’ve gotta have some fun with your workouts. You can mix and match any of the tips above so you can start loving your workouts and stay motivated long-term.
My suggestion — choose the tip, or tips, above that grab your attention and pique your interest the most. Start applying them to your workouts today.
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