Even though routine is often the key to sticking to a fitness program, workouts can get monotonous and the less and less challenging. Changing reps and weights are not the only variables we can work with in strength training. Neither is increasing workout times the only variable available to keep cardio challenging and exciting. Experiment with the following tips to create a more positive experience and foster more challenges in your exercise routine:
Trail running is an exciting alternative to basic cardio that helps stave off boredom and integrates challenging intervals into the workout. Varying terrain with hills, twists, and turns helps to kick up the intensity and calorie burning. Also try picking landmarks on the road and try to reach them as fast as possible. Once you’ve reached the landmark, slow down to your initial, comfortable pace.
It is important to strength train with care, but circuit training has become increasingly popular for a reason. It’s exciting and challenges you to keep your heart rate up at the same time. Try speeding up and do your lifting sets in increments of 30 seconds, increasing reps every time you perform that exercise. This forces you to challenge yourself each set to get better and it also helps avoid the boredom of monotonously counting reps.
Add a Balance Challenge
Balance is often overlooked in our workouts, but can really increase the difficulty and keep things exciting. Try using a stability disc pillow when doing squats or lunges or a medicine ball to do pushups or situps. Alternatively, you can spice almost any exercise up by standing on one leg, which automatically recruits more core muscles to help stabilize your body.
You don’t need to use much weight, but jumping from side to side or even just integrating jumping into your squats can significantly strengthen the connective tissues of your knees and ankles. Plyometrics are a key tool for increasing speed and power and can really help to keep your workout dynamic.
Train with a Heart Rate Monitor
If you do not currently train with a heart rate monitor, then you really don’t know at what kind of intensity you are exercising, nor how well you are progressing with your cardio workouts. Although you’ve probably gotten by fine without one, heart rate monitors are an excellent way to add variety to your workouts. Then you can strive for variable intensity levels during your circuit training and get better in tune with your body.
Train for an Event
Another way to get better tuned into your body and to up the excitement of your workout routine is to train for an event. Search your area (or, even better, find an exotic locale) for an exciting triathlon or 10 K race. Sign up and notice how this spark will invigorate your routine with both meaning and accountability. You’ve also now got the added challenge of staying healthy for your training period up until the race. This puts joint health, nutrition, and immunity to the forefront, which adds much more variety to your routine.
The bottom line is that when you focus exclusively on increasing weight or intensity, you’re bound to hit a plateau or risk injury. So take a broader view of adding challenge to your workouts and holistically focusing on your body’s health. Try these tips and ensure that your workouts remain an exciting and challenging part of your healthy lifestyle.