It happens to the best of us: You start a new workout routine with renewed motivation, dutifully going to the gym six days a week and weirdly not hating it. You’re suddenly that girl who posts gym selfies on Instagram with hashtags like #FlexFriday and #WorkoutOfTheDay. And all your hard work is paying off. You’re sleeping better, your jeans are fitting better, and you’re starting to notice body changes (why hello, abs! Where have you been?). But what happens when workout boredom hits?
You know what I'm talking about: One day, all of a sudden, your motivation drops off the face of the earth. The mere thought of having to do one more workout makes you bored sick. You’d rather do anything than go to the gym. Go to the DMV for three hours, fill out a W2, clean your toilet—literally anything other than the treadmill. To justify your laziness, you start making little B.S. excuses for why it’s totally okay to skip your workout. “Oh, but I need to watch one more episode of Downtown Abbey, and then I need to clean my apartment, and then I need to catch up on the news…”
And then, just like that, you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon and into the deep, dark depths of the Netflix world.
Although it’s expected that you'll suffer burnout from time to time, it is possible to stick with your workout plan in the long-term without being bored to death. So the next time your exercise motivation is flagging, here are six simple tips for beating workout boredom.
1. Vary your workout routine
Are you the type who goes to the gym and trudges through the same 30-minute treadmill session every single day? Yawn. It’s time to mix things up, girl. A University of Florida study found that individuals who added variety to their workout routines were more likely to stick with their programs than the group that did the same workouts every day. Not only does a monotonous workout routine lead to boredom, doing the same thing over and over lands you in a fitness plateau. When you repeatedly do the same workout, your muscles quickly adapt to the repetitive motions, causing your progress to come to a screeching halt. So if you’re a cardio-only type girl, try adding some strength training or power yoga into your routine. The new, stimulating movements will challenge and “shock” your muscles, leading to faster results.
2. Add intervals
Sick of your elliptical or treadmill workout? We feel ya, sista. Shake things up by adding high-intensity intervals into your usual cardio workout. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a training technique that involves alternating intense periods of “all out” effort followed by brief recovery periods. In studies, HIIT training was found to blast calories and boost metabolism more effectively than steady-state cardio. No idea where to start? Here’s an example of a great interval treadmill workout.
3. Sign up for a group class
What's one of the best ways to get out of a workout rut? Sign up for a group exercise class! Whether it’s barre, yoga, bootcamp or kickboxing, group classes are a great way to add some variety and fun to your workout routine. Plus, the group mentality can serve as extra motivation—you’re less likely to slack off when you’re surrounded by other people.
4. Find a friend!
In lieu of your usual happy hour catch-up, recruit your super-fit BFF to go on a run with you. A 2012 study from Kansas State University found that if you exercise with someone you perceive as more athletic than you, you’re more likely to go at a more intense pace and work out longer—which equals a bigger calorie burn. Another benefit of having a plus one at the gym? It keeps you accountable, so you’re less likely to blow off your workout.
5. Make it fun
Believe it or not, workouts don’t have to be a chore. The key to workout consistency is finding an activity that you truly enjoy, whether that’s Zumba, kickboxing, yoga, Tai Chi, hula hooping, jump roping—the sky’s the limit! As long as it gets you sweating, it’s doing its job. If you’re legitimately having fun during your workout, it will feel more like play and less like work, and you’ll be more apt to stick with it. Moral of the story: Workouts don’t have to be torturous to be effective—even just dancing in your apartment to your favorite tunes is better than nothing!
6. Try a new piece of equipment
Ellipticals and treadmills are great and all, but they aren’t the only cardio kids on the block. Get acquainted with one of the more overlooked cardio machines in the gym, such as the Stair Climber or Rowing Machine. Both of these machines burn mega-calories while toning different muscle groups—the stair climber targets your glutes and thighs (hello, Jen Selter booty!), while the rowing machine gives you abs o’ steel.
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