Mixing Up the Monotony Part Dos
Last week I looked at how our lives can become over run by the monotony of our everyday routine. You can read it here: Part I. This week I am going to look at how to mix up the monotony that can be at the gym.
Every once in a while we get sick of the whole lifting weight thing; a lifting rut so to speak. (Of course this never happens to me; I am generalizing here, and talking about everyone else that’s not me). So what do you do when the gym has become so monotonous that you can’t stand the sight of hardened steel? Do you just stop or are there other options. Well I am here to tell you there is another way.
What I have for you guys today is 4 ways to help make your gym time less repetitive and boring.
1. Good Programming
Simply put, a well put together program will go a long way for all facets of your fitness life. A good program will be tailor made to you and your goals. It will also take into account your limitations, your likes, and your dislikes while at the same time keeping you motivated and helping you reach your goals. All this being said, your program should make you look, and more importantly, feel better.
Even the best program will only work for so long. You can’t keep using the same program for months on end and expect to see the same improvements. Eventually you will stop seeing results. You could start seeing some overuse injuries, and assuredly become fed up with the same exercises everyday.
Mixing up your program every 4 to 6 weeks is a good way to keep your exercises fresh. If programming is not your thing, find someone that knows their stuff. This will usually cost about 25 dollars a program. Another option is to use a proven training product like Show and Go.
2. Make Your Off Days Fun Days
My off days are usually Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Sundays I always take off, but I like to leave my Wednesdays and Saturdays open. If the previous two days were a real killer then I might take those days off. Just to give one more day to recover so I can hit the second half of the week hard.
Other ideas for your off days:
I don’t always fit power work into my regular programming. So I use my off days to do my med ball work and Olympic lifts. These sessions are intense and short lasting only 30 minutes. These are also activates I enjoy doing so it’s almost a little treat.
Your off days are a great time to work on your technique. This could be your squat, deadlift, or Olympic lifts. Whatever you choose it’s a great time to get some extra practice time in.
When I program I don’t really care too much if you don’t like an exercise. If it does not hurt you and it will benefit you then I am going to program it. If I just picked exercises that people liked or I liked, then I would never give lunges, step ups, Bulgarian split squats, or any unilateral leg work that involves flexion (side note: I love unilateral leg work, I just think it sucks to do).
Since I don’t always get to do what I like, I will use my days off for low intensity and moderate to higher rep work. That focuses on areas I feel weak in (what I am really saying is I just hit the bi’s and tri’s for hours). Or just do exercises I enjoy.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure your off days are fun. If you have to drag yourself to the gym on your off days, take it off. Don’t burn yourself out.
I like to use finishers as the exclamation point to the end of my workouts or just that kick in the ass for the rest of the day. They are also a nice way to mix up your workouts and get a little conditioning in at the same time. If you train with a partner or a group of people, finishers can be a fun competition among friends and just the thing to break up the monotony.
Some of my favorite finishers:
Trapbar Finisher: Put 225 on bar, do three reps, walk 5 yards, and repeat
Sled Finisher: Push sled with 90 pounds for 25 yards, then do 5 med ball slams, push it back and do 5 more med ball slams. Or you can do burpees instead of the med ball slams.
Airdyne Bike Sprints: Get on an Airdyne bike and do intervals. These suck.
There are many more finishers out there and you are only limited by your imagination.
I know what your thinking, “Deload, really? I don’t take breaks I go hard all day every day!” Well hear me out. If you lift heavy all day every day, you will eventually become burnt out. You will either hit the wall and not making any progress, or you will become so run down that you don’t even want to think about lifting.
The deload can be a beautiful thing, if used correctly. If used correctly it can be a nice change of pace that can bring back that weight crushing animal within you. The two ways in which I use deloads are:
- Just take a planned week off from the gym. This does not mean you don’t stay active, it just means you get away from the iron for a week. This week off will allow your body to recover. The hope is that when you return to the gym you will be rested and hungry to get after it once again.
- The other method I use is to make the last week in your program a deload week. If you have a four week program all you would do is decrease the intensity and volume of the fourth week’s workout. By doing this, you give your body a nice recovery week before starting the next program. For me this is also a motivational thing, I get excited when that deload week is coming up.
The Wrap Up
The gym can become same old same old quickly if you let it become that way. By sprinkling in some of these change of pace ideas every so often it will help keep you coming back to the gym for more for weeks to come.
For ways to mix up the monotony in your everyday life, checkout Part I of this blog.