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Are You In A Fitness Rut? Think Outside The Box

Strong Fit Brunette Wiping Sweat from Her Face in a Loft Industrial Gym with Motivational

Boredom is the kiss of workout death. No one can make themself do the same old workout for eternity. If you are bored, you will eventually quit, and the benefits of even the best workout are moot if you can’t make yourself do it! 

Are you in a fitness rut?

If the answer is “yes,” today is the day we find you a solution. Luckily, as my mom says, there is always a solution. 

Try tempo training

There are three types of muscle contractions: isometric, eccentric, and concentric. Most of us only think about the concentric contraction — the “lift.”

By manipulating the speeds of the different contractions, you can get a killer workout without even changing your exercises. This is considered “tempo training.” 

When you do a biceps curl, for example, you bend your elbow and bring a weight towards your shoulder. With concentric contractions, you shorten the muscle — think of curling your arm up.

With eccentric contractions you release/lengthen the muscle — think straightening your arm. With isometrics, you hold still — think of holding the curl halfway through the motion. 

To focus on the eccentric motion, pick any exercise and simply take 3 to 4 seconds to release the movement. For example, lower yourself down into your squat for 4 seconds, then stand up with regular speed. Or pull yourself up into a pull-up but slowly release yourself down. 

To try isometrics, simply tighten a specific muscle or group of muscles without noticeably changing the length of the muscle or the angle of the joint. Think plank, wall squat, and holding a pull-up with your chest close to the bar. 

Try different types of cardio WITHIN your workout!

Don’t just run. Try running to a local park and using the stairs. Then jog home. Or try alternating bouts of skipping with old-school aerobic moves like burpees and jumping jacks. Have access to a gym? Try “brick training”: bike and then run or use the elliptical and then jump on the rower.

Try intervals

Interval cardio training is when you alternate between bouts of high- and low-intensity training. You can do them anywhere, on any piece of equipment — swimming, biking, running, or even dancing.

If you are trying to improve your fitness level, make intervals your new best friend. They place a high metabolic demand on the body and burn lots of calories in a short amount of time.

For example, warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. Then cycle through the following sequence: 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds recovery, 60 seconds hard, 60 seconds recovery, 90 seconds hard, 90 seconds recovery. Repeat 2 to 4 times. Cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.

Final thoughts

These are a few of my favourite “boredom fighting tricks,” but it’s not an exhaustive list. If they don’t work for you, no problem.

Mix things up! Try a group fitness class, join a sports team, and/or get a fitness buddy. Really, all that matters is that you consciously work to mix up your routine. Being active must be thought of as “non-negotiable” but how you move is up to you!

Kathleen Trotter, MSc, is a fitness expert, media personality, personal trainer, writer, and author of Finding Your Fit: A Compassionate Trainer’s Guide to Making Fitness a Lifelong Habit and Your Fittest Future Self. Making Choices Today for a Happier, Healthier, Fitter Future You.

She has spent more than eight years writing for The Globe and Mail and has written for various other publications including Impact Magazine, ParticipAction, Breathe, Alive, Canadian Running, Today’s Parent, Chatelaine, and Glow, and for six years she was the featured personal trainer in The Globe and Mail’s online Fitness Basics weekly web series and included in The Globe’s weekly newsletter for subscribers. She has been a personal trainer and fitness expert for almost twenty years.