Take a second to think: what part of your training do you find the most daunting? The final set? The final rep? How about the day after training legs—having trouble walking? I find all of these rather difficult, but when it comes to the hardest of all, it has to be finding routines or workouts that I do not get bored of, or one that I can stick to.
With the new year officially here and people searching for training protocols to help them shed some fat or pack on some mass, I would like to take the time to introduce five tips to finding a routine that sticks.
Choose 3-4 exercises per body-part, and mix them up
Everybody has heard of different training splits – push/pull, upper/lower, one muscle group per day… they’re almost endless. One of the best ways to keep your workouts fun and challenging is to never perform the same movements too often, and to flip the order.
What do I mean by that? For back days, if you enjoy performing three rowing movements (we’ll use alternate dumbbell, barbell and seated cable) and then lat-pulldowns, change their order after each workout. This eliminates the feeling of repetition and will keep your mental-game tight.
As for mixing up overall exercises, after a few weeks of performing these four motions, make some changes. Throw in a chest-supported dumbbell row in place of alternate dumbbell rows, or go with a wide-grip on the cable rows as opposed to close. This, again, changes the motion and ultimately keeps training fun.
Change your set/rep scheme
Three or four sets, 8-12 reps… getting old? Sure, it is effective, and it is the base of most of my training, but if it starts to get old, I’ll change it up, and you should, too! Try two sets of 15-20 reps, 8 sets of 8 reps – progressive overload is what the muscle needs. Although it is obtained through specific resistance and repetition, what good is the same, old rep scheme if the workouts are getting boring and your intensity is dropping? Try something new.
Utilize drop-sets and static holds
This is by far my favorite way to rejuvenate my training. Unsure of what a drop set is? It is really simple and is absolutely killer. Have your partner stand at the selector pin or at the end of the bar. Perform your set, remove some weight, and then start right back up! I love to utilize this when burning out on a pec-deck or seated-cable row.
As for a static hold, it is when you stop the movement at the end of the concentric motion (when the muscle is contracted.) This is when your muscle is tense, such as at the bottom of a bench-press or the top of a pull-up. Both of these will get your heart-rate up, increase the TUT (time-under-tension) and make for a solid pump, ultimately leading to better feelings following the set and thus, better training-adherence.
Change the time that you go to the gym
This may sound extremely basic and is borderline common sense, but it is something that I have come to realize over the past several months. I used to be a morning guy because I loved to wake up, hit the weights and then go about my day knowing that my training was complete. However, after a couple of months, I felt burned out and tired of the same crowd, the same parking spot, the same overall, morning routine.
With that, I made a change, and started training later in the evening. It is almost as if I became an entirely different person: more energy, better strength and an overall more fun experience. If you are finding yourself bored of your workouts and being repetitive, try training at a different time.
Now, we all know that everybody “trains hard.” Believe me—as a Nutrition and Dietetics student and avid gym goer, I hear daily about how hard everyone else trains and how they are “dead the next day.” Come on people, do not kid yourself.
Look, I am not saying that everybody I know is soft and does not workout with intensity, but I am saying that I know way too many people that leave the gym with gas in the tank. I can assure you that if you are willing to bump the speed up on the treadmill, add five pounds to the bar or toss a few more reps into your drop-sets, you will feel better leaving the gym and will enjoy the experience a heck of a lot more.
I hope that I was able to shed some light on a couple of tips that will help you stick to your training and have fun in the gym. Waking up, getting ready and walking through the door is one thing; being able to tell yourself that you burned everything that you had in the tank is another, and by keeping it fun and challenging, you can guarantee that you will always leave it all and will reach your goals.