Until very recently, Gabe was a slim guy who could eat whatever he wanted and still maintain his high school physique. “I had been a big exerciser, but over time work took its place. I began noticing that my stomach wasn’t flat anymore.” So last fall, Gabe hit the gym. “I started going three times a week,” he says. “I get my routine from an iPad app, and the whole thing takes an hour. ” The usual program consists of three sets of several different weight-lifting exercises with five minutes of cardio before and after each set. Gabe is feeling better, and he’s down a couple of pants sizes—but boredom has set in.
Gabe’s biggest challenge is preventing his mind—and muscles—from being bored. Changing workouts around more often may be the key—especially when your biggest stumbling block is simply making exercise interesting each and every week.
- Think in fours. Most weight-bearing exercises can be done at least four ways, either with a barbell, dumbbells, using a gym machine, or with resistance bands. If you stop seeing results with a certain exercise—or just feel your heart isn’t into it anymore—simply try a variation of it. The exercise may feel similar to your muscles, but it can feel completely different to your brain, which helps terminate the tedium. For ideas, see our galley of moves in our Ulimate Move Finder.
- Do one side at a time. Train one arm—or leg—at a time whenever you’re lifting weight. For example, instead of pushing both weights above your head, push one up and down, then do the opposite arm (alternating between them). You’ll not only keep your brain more involved with your workout—doing it this way requires more focus—but you’ll burn more calories by keeping your pulse up. (Even though you’ll be resting one side of your body at a time, your heart never gets a rest.)
- Remember that little changes matter. With every workout, change at least one thing about your routine, whether it’s the amount of weight you’re using, the length of time you’re exercising, or the intensity of a particular move. Even the slightest tweak in your routine means your body is constantly adapting to each new stress you’re placing on it.