Many of us are having a difficult time sticking with a solid fitness routine right now. We’re trying to navigate home workouts, distance learning, working from home, gym closures, and ... let’s face it -- pandemic fatigue. All of the limitations and challenges can make it easy to feel disenchanted with your routine. This is when we need to get creative and spice things up a bit.
If you find yourself feeling blah or uninspired with fitness, here are five ways you can add pizzazz to your workouts, increase their effectiveness, and get more out of the time you spend working out.
1. Assess your strength-training routine. When I talk to personal training clients to find out what they’ve been doing, it never surprises me to hear that they strength train the same muscles every single day. They’ll take HIIT, BODYPUMP, CrossFit and strength circuit classes consecutive days in a row. While strength training is AMAZING, and one of the best ways to protect your bones and build lean muscle, it’s important to be strategic in how you strength train. Remember that results occur during rest, not work.If you’re working the same muscles to fatigue day after day, it causes a continual cycle of muscle breakdown without giving the tissues necessary time to recover and rebuild. Alternate strength-training days, or if you like classes or workouts that challenge your entire body, sandwich those workouts with rest days or pure cardio days to give your muscles a break. If you need help setting up a strength-training split, check out this post.
2. Add in smart interval training. Interval training is a great way to burn fat, protect your heart health, and you can become stronger, fitter, and faster. Add in some Tabata intervals to your strength work, or HIIT. Just like I mentioned in the last point, don’t do the same thing on consecutive days. It’s important to alternate cardio intensities so you’re not going full throttle every.single.day.
3. Stop doing “traditional” core workouts. Whenever someone gets on the floor and does 100+ crunches or sit-ups, a fairy dies. These exercises can create stress and pressure on your spine, negatively affecting the low back. Also, they’re the opposite of functional. I don’t think I do a crunch movement in real life, ever. Focus on functional core work like planks, deadlifts, and squats!
4. Pay attention to breathing and form. It’s easy to get in the workout zone (especially with a killer playlist) and find that you’ve been holding your breath for the entire set of reps. Focus on engaging your core (pull the belly button in and drop your ribs), and exhaling on the exertion (the hardest part) of each movement.
5. Try a new class, or change your scenery. Change sparks change. If you’re feeling stuck or blah in your routine, try something totally new. Take your run outside instead of the treadmill. Take a new virtual class. Try something you think you may not like, and you may surprise yourself. If you do these things, and you’re still feeling blah, maybe it’s a signal that you’re overtraining and need a break. Take the break and come back even stronger. Our bodies are intelligent machines and will usually tell us what they want ... it’s just up to us to listen.