I see you. You walk into the gym and hop on your stationary bike to warm up. You stare at the clock on the display until it reads 10:00. There. Warm-up done. You meander into the weight room, set up your equipment, grab your dumbbells, or hop on a machine. You go through the motions, lift-release, contract-relax, like a pre-programmed weight-lifting robot. Or maybe you don’t even go into the weight room because it makes you anxious, nervous, or you think it’s just for guys. So you go ahead with the same workout you’ve been doing, for months, years maybe. Maybe you’re making progress, maybe you’re not.
I see you, and I know what causes this. You’re bored. You’re unmotivated. You’re uninspired. Maybe you’re feeling a little lazy (it happens to the best of us). Maybe you’ve hit a plateau in your training and you just can’t push past a certain weight on your squat. Maybe you just need something new to reenergize your workouts, to get your muscles firing in a little bit of a different pattern. Maybe you just need to figure out where your inspiration lies or why the heck you’re doing this in the first place.
I think we all lose ourselves in the gym at some point in our workout/training careers. Whether you’re a beginner or are someone who is more comfortable in the weight room than anywhere else, at some point you’ll probably hit a wall. As most of you know, I spent very little time in the weight room over the past two weeks because I hit that wall. I was unmotivated, tired, and just needed a little bit of time to recover both my muscles and my mindset.
How can you get out of this rut? Think about two things:
1) What are you doing this for?
2) Are you actually working toward your goals?
First things first, you have to figure out why you’re in the gym in the first place. Are you trying to lose weight? Be healthier for your children? Look hot in your new jeans (and/or out of your new jeans)? Whatever your reason, be honest with yourself. Most of us do workout for aesthetic reasons just as much as for health reasons, and it’s ok to admit it. I spend a lot of time in the weight room because I want to be healthy and strong, but a lot of my motivation also comes from wanting my shoulders to look like this:
Secondly, you have to evaluate whether your fitness routine is actually getting you closer to those goals that you have set. (Here’s a hint: If you’ve been doing the same routine for the past 3 years and haven’t seen any progress, it’s probably not working.) So you want to have jacked shoulders and glutes that you could bounce a quarter off of? Riding the elliptical probably isn’t helping you any. You want to be able to run a 5k in under 30 minutes? Those bicep curls probably aren’t doing the trick.
Here’s an example: I set a goal a while ago that I wanted to be able to do 5 unassisted chin-ups. At the time I could only do 2-3. Guess how many I can do now? 5. I can also do 5 parallel grip pull-ups and can consistently perform 1 unassisted pull-up. I didn’t reach that goal just because I’m lucky, I reached that goal because I changed my upper body work over the summer to maximize strength increases in the muscles that would help me to my pull-up goals. Had I just kept up with the same type of upper body work that I had been doing for the entire year prior, most likely I would still be stuck at 3 chin-ups, 3 months later.
The most important part of training is working towards your goals, but first you need to be honest with yourself and crystal clear about what those goals are. If you’ve been stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau with your fitness routine, maybe it’s time to step back and reevaluate where you’re headed and why. Not sure whether you’re doing this or not? Try this:
Sit down with a pen and paper. (That’s right, we’re going old school).
On one side of the paper, write down your fitness goals. On the other side, write down something you’re doing in your routine that has helped you to make progress toward reaching that goal. If you can’t come up with something for each goal, it’s time to change things up a little bit. If you stare at that paper, and realize that everything you’re doing is not getting you anywhere in terms of your fitness potential, figure out what changes need to be made, and then, here’s the kicker: make those changes. Easy enough, right? Now get to it.
Is your fitness routine actively helping you reach your goals? Have you ever hit a training plateau or a rut and how did you get out of it? When was the last time you switched things up in your fitness routine?