When you start out training, everything feels like a challenge for the first couple of months. Then, once you know what you’re doing and you’re more in tune with your body, things do start to make sense.
However, this also leads to a new problem – boredom and frustration. It doesn’t matter what areas of the body you’re trying to improve - when you don’t see immediate results but perform the same workout routine over and over, it feels like hitting a wall.
Fortunately, there are a few ways you can push yourself to overcome this burden and here are 8 unique tricks to help you do just that.
One of the easiest ways to make something more interesting is to introduce something new and it is not different with staying in shape. You might find, for instance, that a part of your old routine is boring to you, only because it no longer provides the same impact now that your muscle mass has adjusted to it.
With this in mind, new exercises should replace the ones that you’re rotating out. A great example here would be to simply change the stance. It’s not much, but using sumo deadlifting to replace regular deadlifts adds a little excitement.
You can also make much bigger changes, so long as you stick to the same muscle areas. Completing barbell biceps curls instead of seated incline dumbbell variants, for example, are two very different exercises, but both focus on the same body region.
Similarly, a change in equipment can also help, as you can effectively switch up your entire workout routine. Similar to new exercises, you should look to replace exercises with alternatives, using new equipment, that still focuses on the same area.
For example, many people can easily use a bench press, which makes them very popular at the gym. While some people get bored of the simple exercise, others get frustrated that they are always in use. If you feel like either of these, why not replace it with a cable chest press?
This mimics the process by using a flat bench, resting in between cable pulleys. This still places focus on your chest muscles but offers a different experience. As an added idea, why not try rope pull downs to place focus on your triceps? It’s different, compared to using a cable machine, and this will help keep you engaged.
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a great way to mix up your regime in the middle of the week. You should ideally add HIIT sessions in every week or fortnight, making them a fantastic way to break up the boredom of a repetitive routine.
These training intervals focus on switching from different intensities, whether it’s high to low, low to moderate or even low to high. This gives your body the wake-up call it needs. Due to their nature, HIIT sessions generally focus on cardio activities but you can introduce some light weight exercises as well.
There’s no rule that you can only exercise in the gym. While you’re free to workout at home, why not try getting some fresh air and enjoying the outdoors? Replace the treadmill with a nature park and some scenic views.
Similarly, there are somethings you can do outside that you simply can’t do indoors. These only serve to replicate the natural experience in the first place and give you a refreshingly new breath of life.
Some things are better with company and many people find training to be no different. While some people prefer to be alone, this leads to lazy behaviour, as there’s nobody to motivate you, and you can also start to feel lonely overtime. If you have a friend, family member or partner that is also training, doing so together can make the whole experience more exciting and engaging.
Having a partner also opens up additional exercise options. You can take turns being the other’s spotter, making the likes of military press exercises more convenient. As long as your partner has a positive attitude, they will be a source of motivation for your regime.
As another way to shake up your routine, introduce a week open to nothing but bodyweight training. There are actually a number of benefits in doing this once every month or so, as even people who do regular, large volumes of bench pressing can only do a small number of push-ups.
An intense week of body training helps change this and can be done by introducing a 4-day cycle. This involves upper body training on days 1 and 3, lower body training on days 2 and 4, with rest (and vital recovery) over the last 3 days.
The reason for alternating between the upper and lower body is give the targeted muscles 24 hours’ rest. This is a requirement if the protein is going to encourage muscle growth and the reparation of injured muscles. When resting, you should avoid physical training to allow these processes to occur. Overtraining can lead to injuries.
If you want a goal to aim for, why not try entering a competition? What matters is that these events guide your focus towards winning, which requires appearing in the best shape.
Even if you don’t win, the motivation given during the lead-up is enough of a reason to enter for many people. Ideally, you should be entering a competition that is around 3 to 6 months away. This provides you with time to prepare, both mentally and physically, and give you a short term goal to look forward to.
Just like exercise, a change of diet can help introduce new improvements. You can use your diet to support your current exercise routine. For example, a calorie-heavy diet is useful when performing heavy lifts, as you want to add muscle mass. On the other hand, you can cut this to a diet with less calories when performing cardio, as it’s not required at this stage. By paying attention to both proper training and dieting, you can achieve a wider range of goals.
Start Making The Change…
With these quick tricks, it’s easy to upgrade your workout to something more physically and mentally engaging.
Of course, you should try not to undertake too many of these changes at the same time, as this can lead to frustration. Instead, take your time and develop changes as you go.
Written By Demmy James
Author Bio: Demmy James is a fitness buff, strength and conditioning specialist and content contributor with Muscle & Strength. He is constantly looking to inspire and motivate others towards achieving their own health and fitness goals through his writings.
"I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others." - Muhammad Ali
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
- Muhammad Ali
“I know where I'm going and I know the truth, and I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.”
- Muhammad Ali
"I'm the greatest thing that ever lived! I'm the king of the world! I'm a bad man. I'm the prettiest thing that ever lived" - Muhammad Ali
"I've seen George Foreman shadow boxing, and the shadow won"
- Muhammad Ali
"Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are" - Muhammad Ali
"I done wrestled with an alligator, I done tussled with a whale; handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail; only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick; I'm so mean I make medicine sick" - Muhammad Ali
"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" - Muhammad Ali
"The man who has no imagination has no wings" - Muhammad Ali
"I've made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven't lived in vain" - Muhammad Ali
- Rest In Peace Muhammad Ali
"Anyone who follows me and actually knows me and what I stand for would know that I like to go against the grain"
- Dana Linn Bailey
"If you have discipline, drive and determination... Nothing is impossible"
- Dana Linn Bailey
"Comfortable isn't going to make you better"
- Dana Linn Bailey
"...That's what I want to do. I want to get out there and I want to show girls it's ok to have a little bit of muscle, it's ok to be strong... Be confident in exactly who you are. The sexiest thing a girl can ever possess is confidence."
- Dana Linn Bailey
"You get as big as possible from becoming as strong as possible. When I started lifting I went into the gym with that ‘how much can I bench, curl, squat , and deadlift?’ attitude. That’s when I discovered how fast my strength could increase, and it made me crazy intense to get even stronger"
- Kevin Levrone
"Intensity builds immensity" - Kevin Levrone
"It's important that you do full movements for your triceps, because
locking out is when your triceps work their hardest. Flex and squeeze at
the contraction of each rep to hit all three triceps heads."
- Kevin Levrone
"I don't know what the future will bring to me, but I want to be ready when it comes"
- Kevin Levrone
We all know that what we eat directly affects the output we produce, especially in the fitness industry. A person’s diet can make or break both their physical performance and their overall well-being. Fortunately, we have the ability to choose what we put into our bodies; when we go to the grocery store, it’s up to us to fill the cart with wholesome, nutritious options over junk foods and empty calories. Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely turn down the finer things in life – I feel that peanut butter is the most important food group – but much of my success stems from the fact that I supply my body with the right things a majority of the time.
What some people don’t realize, however, is that there are external elements that can affect our bodies on a critical level. The environment could be wreaking havoc on your body despite the conscious efforts you put toward your health. Everything from the containers we store food in to the air we breathe affects us in more ways than one. These are factors that often go unrecognized, and eliminating their effects requires breaking some old habits. By implementing a few changes, though, making environmentally conscious choices will be as easy as choosing chicken breast over pizza. (Scratch that – it will be much easier; choosing anything over pizza is impossible.) Here are a few things you can do to eliminate some of the adverse health effects of the environment:
1. Use BPA-free products. This is something that many people are well aware they should do by now, but I’ll explain further for those of you who aren’t as informed. BPA is short for bisphenol A. It’s an industrial chemical that is used to make epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics. These plastics can be found in most of the objects we use from day to day: CDs and DVDs, cars, sports equipment, and – most importantly – reusable bottles and food storage containers, among other things. Research conducted by the FDA in recent years has revealed that BPA in containers can seep into the food or beverage within, and microwaving your food in these containers can increase that risk. Exposure to BPA could be linked to increased blood pressure as well as effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants, and children.
Studies are still being conducted to investigate just how severe these effects can be, but there are a lot of things you can do to at least decrease the amount of contact you make with BPA. First of all, as mentioned above, look for products labeled as BPA-free. More and more of these have been manufactured in recent years. If possible, replace plastic containers with alternatives: glass, porcelain, or stainless steel are a few examples. If using plastic can’t be avoided, refrain from putting it in the microwave. Lastly, cut back on cans; most of them are lined with resin that contains BPA. (Visit mayoclinic.org or fda.gov for more information.)
2. Make the right choice at the gas pump. Remember that whole junk food versus health food thing? This is the equivalent of that, but for your car. It’s pretty commonly known that I am an advocate for American Ethanol, and there’s a good reason for that – several good reasons, actually. Ethanol is home grown, it’s clean burning, and it’s renewable. What’s not to love? Here’s a fun fact for you: Henry Ford’s Model T was actually built to run on ethanol. In fact, the gasoline you put in your car already probably contains up to 10 percent of it, a blend known in the marketplace as E10. In 2014 alone, greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by approximately 38 million metric tons thanks to the 13.4 billion gallons of ethanol that were blended with gasoline. That’s the equivalent of taking the emissions of 8 million vehicles off the road. Just imagine what increasing the use of higher ethanol blends could do.
So why, exactly, is a clean-burning fuel so important to your health? Benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) make up 25-40% of gasoline. They are some of the worst carcinogens, or cancer-causing substances, you come into contact with on a daily basis – and I don’t just mean when you fill up at the pump; simply being near a roadway forces you to inhale car exhaust that is brimming with these and more than 150 other toxins. Benzene in particular has been linked to cancer, while toluene and xylene are associated with a slew of other health problems. Ethanol emissions, on the other hand, have just two components: water vapor and carbon dioxide, which is utilized by the corn crops that will be used in future ethanol production. It is the only truly sustainable fuel option on the market, and guess what: it won’t give you cancer.
Making the switch to ethanol is simple. Cars from 2001 and newer are approved to run on blends of E15 (85% gasoline and 15% ethanol) and higher. Gas stations that have blender pumps also tend to offer E20, E30, and E85, which contains 51-83% ethanol and is optimal for use in flex-fuel vehicles. It has a higher octane rating, provides more horsepower, and reduces your car’s emissions by more than 30% over traditional gasoline. Like I said, it’s health food for your vehicle. The benefits extend far beyond engine performance, but unfortunately a lot of ethanol myths have morphed into popular belief in recent years. Make sure you know the facts before you overlook the product. (Visit epa.gov, cancer.org, cleanairchoice.org, ethanolrfa.org, or growthenergy.org for more information.)
3.Take time to read labels. It’s easy to overlook products we use every day as things that can be particularly dangerous to our health. We fall into patterns with the brands we use – household cleaners and personal care products become standards in our daily routines. Oftentimes we stick with a brand simply because it’s what our parents bought as we were growing up. The unfortunate truth, though, is that a lot of them pose some major health risks.
An analysis of more than 2,000 American cleaning supplies done by the Environmental Working Group found that many of them contain substances that are linked to serious health problems. Even some of the more naturally derived or organic brands vary in risk depending on the product. Sadly, product labels often fail to inform consumers of potential health hazards. Ingredients and fumes from cleaning products provide for an array of health concerns including asthma, allergies, birth defects, reproductive or developmental problems, chemical burns and poisoning, and – you guessed it – cancer.
What’s even scarier is that hazardous chemicals aren’t just in the products you use to clean your home; they’re present in a large percentage of your personal care products. The average person comes into contact with 126 unique and potentially unsafe ingredients each day, courtesy of the cosmetics they use. Anything from makeup to shampoo to sunscreen and beyond contains a myriad of chemicals that you wouldn’t otherwise want anywhere near your body, and the FDA has no authority to require the testing of such products before they hit the market. As with household cleaners, labels such as “organic” or “natural” sometimes hold no meaning; there is no FDA-regulated definition for “natural,” and even certified organic products may contain as little as 10 percent organic ingredients.
It is much more difficult to determine the health risks of cosmetics because – thanks to the lack of FDA requirements – there simply has not been enough research done to be conclusive. There are various doses of toxins present in many cosmetics, but these ingredients change so frequently that studying their long-term health effects is easier said than done. This fact in itself raises a major red flag, as if there weren’t enough of them waving already; it’s basically impossible to find a safe product if its formula might be different the next time you buy it.
This is why reading product labels is imperative to your health. The Environmental Working Group has a terrific website that includes both a cosmetics database and a guide to healthy cleaning. You can actually search for the products you use to see how they are graded in terms of health and environmental hazards, from A to F. If your brand isn’t up to par, you can find one with a higher rating to replace it. The cosmetics database also has a page that lists ingredients to avoid when buying certain products. I’ll say it one more time: always read labels. The retailers and the government don’t have your best interest at heart, so you are the only person who can truly ensure the safety of your home and the health of your body. (Visit cancer.org or ewg.org for more information.)
Once you know the indelible impact of the environment on your health, it’s impossible to ignore. Doing your part to diminish its effects sooner rather than later will lead to immense benefits in the long run. I can assure you that taking the time to make these changes will be well worth it.
By Brandan Fokken c/a Miranda Broin
Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you can suffer injuries during workout programs. Easy and complicated exercises both cause pains and injuries. Ok, what’s the reason? Not one, but there are many. It can be the wrong workouts, wrong exercise machines or wrong footwear. Some popular injuries during workouts include muscle pull, dislocation, shin split, Tendinitis and wrist sprain. If not treated, these injuries cause serious issues. So, it is necessary to consider proper precautions during workouts.
Don’t worry, you can strengthen muscles and tone thighs. But, for that, you need to perform the right workouts on the right machines. Before starting the exercise program, you need to learn proper tips and techniques. In this article, I have shared some tips on which people can avoid injuries and pains during workout programs. Let’s read:
Before performing exercises, it is essential to know to your body completely. You need to know which muscles are weak and which are strong. You need to know whether you are fit for workouts or not. So, if you have knee problems, you should not run on a treadmill, use a stepper or perform leg presses. Mostly people above 50 face these types of problems. No matter, what is your age, it is important to know your body’s limitations before selecting a workout plan.
If you want to acquire vast benefits from exercises, you need to hire a certified trainer. By spending time with experts, you can learn about different exercises and workouts. You can learn tips and strategies for acquiring vast benefits from exercises. Not only this, but you can also know about exercise machines, weights and other things. After learning the right techniques, you would surely avoid pain and injuries. So, if you want to achieve success in fitness programs, you need to perform a specific type of training.
If your workout contains a warm-up and cool-down, you are less likely to face pain and injuries. With the warm-up, you can increase your heart rate and prepare your body for exercise. According to your preference, you can jump rope or ride an exercise bike for warming-up. With the cool-down, you can utilise the oxygen and energy required for performing other activities. Simply walking for 10 minutes after the exercise is a fantastic way to cool down.
No doubt, exercises do provide health benefits. If you repeat same muscle movements, you will face splints, tendinitis and other injuries. For avoiding these problems, you should vary your workouts. Like, if you lift weights on one day, you should perform running on another day. Whether it is a high intensity or low-intensity workout, rest periods should be a key factor. With proper rest, you can recover your body and perform workouts with more accuracy and efficiency.
For avoiding injuries, you need to make a workout program that involves right exercises and the right equipment. Before the workout, you need to be aware of your body’s current fitness level. By hiring a professional, you can learn the right technique for performing exercises. A warm-up helps in increasing the heart rate and a cool-down helps in acquiring oxygen and energy. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, you need proper rest between your workouts. Perform exercises with proper precautions to avoid pains and injuries.
Written by Andrew Fox
Author Bio: Andrew is the founder and CEO at AimWorkout (http://aimworkout.com/best-rowing-machine-reviews/). As a passionate fitness professional and tri-athlete, there is literally no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.
Growing up I was in the squads for gymnastics which lead me into professional dancing. I had to look a certain way to do well so I got myself training in the gym and reading womens fitness magazines to learn. Straight away I respected fit women and wanted to represent being healthy and strong because I wanted to not because I had to! This lead me to educate myself with nutrition and weight lifting and I soon developed the love to educate others which is when I qualified as a Personal Trainer.
I would advise getting the basics right first by educating yourself properly, always ask ‘why’ you are doing something. Then be patient and get to understand yourself a little. Lastly make sure you can fit it around YOUR lifestyle, and then be consistent.
My ability to train keeps me motivated. I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity and ability to be strong and healthy… that is all I need to motivate me!
Umm I am not the best chef but I love making quick and easy tasty protein treats. One is the ‘Mug cake’… 1 egg white, 1 scoop of whey protein and some almond milk mixed into a mug. Mix and the place in microwave for 1 min, then eat!
I set myself macro Nutrients for the day. So my food choices vary but I always keep my proteins high and make sure I get lots of greens and berries in my diet.
I keep my Supplements simple I take:
Vitamin D because in London we get no sunshine! Creatine
fish oils and your standard Whey protein!
I always listen to music but it can be anything from ‘slow jam Rnb’ to Hip Hop I like to sing along in my head! At the moment I have some 50 cent and 2pac on my playlist.
Weights are my preference, they make me feel strong and I believe you get the most of out them for long term results whether its for aesthetics or just overall health.
If I am trying to lose body fat, I will add in a few steady state cardio or a HIIT sprint session on my Upper body days.
I am not sure I could choose a few but I respect those that are honest and put out good knowledgeable content!
I can say I have been lucky enough to not yet come across much negativity. But I suppose the best way is to ignore it and be confident in yourself and why you are sharing your fitness journey.
Allowing myself to be slightly flexible with my approach but of course stubborn with my goals! As well as taking the time to understand myself, then being Consistent rather than all or nothing.
‘Consistency is key’
We all want better results in the gym. It’s why we seek out better supplements, fancier workout gear, and the latest and greatest advice in rep ranges and lifting technique.
But if you want to keep yourself more consistent in the gym, develop better habits in your workouts, complete the reps and ranges you set out for yourself, and most importantly—improve—then you need to start by writing out your workouts.
Self-monitoring is nothing new.
Research has shown over and over again that monitoring our performance can have a powerful effect on our results. And the best part? It costs as little as a pen and a piece of paper to get started.
Here is how writing out your workouts will help you become a better, smarter, and more jacked lifter:
Real talk for a moment: Our memory is not as great as we like to think it is. While some of us may be blessed with perfect recall, the majority of us do not. After all, how many times this week have you misplaced your keys or smartphone?
The rep ranges and weights we used last week on the bench easily get lost in the thick fog of weights and sets from other exercises done since then, as well as the heap of things we need to remember and remind ourselves to do in our day-to-day lives.
“Was it 225, or 235 last week?” many a lifter has found themselves thinking as they loaded up the bar.
With an accurate training history in your pocket you know exactly what you are supposed to be lifting this week because you know precisely what you lifted last week.
Having your results in hand leaves no doubt when it comes to planning the day’s workout.
I’ve seen it happen so many times that it is almost comical. A lifter will storm into the gym flush with energy, about to burst from the scoop and a half of go-go powder.
The beginning of the workout will look promising. They bang out a quick few sets and get distracted. Or bored. Or tired.
Suddenly, they are cutting corners on their sets and reps, or maybe even peeling out of their workout entirely. Without anyone or anything to keep them accountable they can stroll right on out of the gym without consequence.
Most of us train on our own, and with the exception of slowed gains don’t have anything to keep us in check from bouncing out early on our workouts.
Your workout log can help as a backstop for these moments. Just knowing that I have to write out my workout is usually enough to keep my butt on the bench to complete that last set.
And the knowledge I might have to write out a crap workout is often just the thing I need to push through when I’m tired and not feeling it.
There are fewer things that give you a sense of pride quite like looking back at your workout history.
Over the long haul of trying to accomplish our goals in the gym it can be easy to lose sight of all the progress we have already made. Flipping through the pages of your logbook should fill you with satisfaction and pride, and remind you not only how far you have already come, but just how capable you are.
That workout you completely crushed on half a night of sleep? Yeah, you did that. The PB you set at the end of a devastating session? Yup, nailed it.
Celebrating these moments are important. You shouldn’t have to wait until you have hit your final target or that elusive PB to recognize the little moments of success along the way.
Is there anything more infuriating than falling into the same traps and setbacks over and over? Yet again we trip over the same things, making us feel like we are playing the worst game of go-and-stop ever.
A powerful benefit of having a workout history is that you will start learn a metric ton about you, your workouts, and how you best respond to them.
By keeping notes on nutrition and sleep you can see with complete clarity how you respond to low sleep, and how much better you feel under the bar on weeks where you eat clean. These written reminders are serious and effective; they will do more for you than just thinking about them.
Similarly, it will help injury-proof your training. No matter where you rank in terms of strength and lifting ability we all face the common enemy of injury. There is great value in having a detailed workout record that shows you where you are more prone to get injured or even fall ill.
Putting your detective hat and seeing where performance lags and how it corresponds to your behaviors and actions in and out of the gym can be just the thing to help you shake loose those pesky bad habits that you know you should kick, but just haven’t felt motivated or informed enough to do so.
Put It Into Action:
Okay, so ideally by now you are beginning to think that writing out your workouts is a little less like homework and more like tactical planning for your goals in the gym.
With each session, there is a heap of stuff you can write out. If you are totally fresh to this tool start with just the basics:
If you want to take things to the next level write out rate of perceived effort, overall effort level for the workout, how much you slept the night before, and even consider also using it as a food journal.
The options are many and varied, and what works for each respective lifter is different. Start out with the fundamentals until you feel the habit of tracking your workouts take hold, and go on and lift like a boss.
Written By: Olivier Poirier-Leroy
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national-level athlete and publisher of YourWorkoutBook, a training journal for people serious about crushing the gym. You can also join his weekly motivational newsletter by clicking here.