Some people last a day. Others last a few weeks or a few months. And some people make it a lifelong commitment. No, I’m not talking about the Seinfeld episode where Jerry, Kramer, George, and Elaine all see who can last the longest as the “Master of Their Domains.” I’m talking about something rated much more PG: exercise.
Aside from physical limitations and doctor’s orders, in my experience it’s boredom that most often causes people to quit their exercise programs. We do what we enjoy doing; it really is that simple. So if we don’t enjoy exercising, it stands to reason that we will, at some point or another, stop doing it. Then how do you keep your exercise routine from becoming, um, routine? First, I guess, start referring to it as an exercise program (not because it will make you any more motivated, but it will prevent you from sounding as redundant as I just did). As for keeping your workout enjoyable, try this batch of fun-loving techniques we here at the I Look Like Fit crew cooked up.
If you are a treadmill person, bring a deck of playing cards with you to the gym the next time you go (a half or even a quarter deck will also work just fine). Keep the cards in a secure place such as a pocket or fanny-pack, as you don’t want to them to start flying all over the place like you’re some crazy magician. Start off at a very leisurely walking pace on the treadmill for a minute or two. Then (and this is where the fun starts) reach into your pocket and blindly remove one playing card. If it’s a number card (i.e., 2 through 10), you can stay at the same pace at which you are currently walking for another minute. Whew … what a relief. But, if you pull a face card (i.e., Ace, Jack, Queen, or King), you must double your current effort level for a minute. Uh oh. And, if you are a more experienced exerciser, you may even want to develop a system where each face card represents different effort levels. So, for example, a Jack may mean that you have to double your effort level, a Queen means to triple it, etc.
Another form of interval training can be made fun with the help of your own music selection. When you find yourself with a little bit of free time at home, make a Gym Mix on your iPod comprised of an array of songs; some with fast tempos, some with slow, and some with tempos that fall in between. The key here is to make sure that you mix-up the arrangement of where the different paced songs appear in your track list. Once you’ve uploaded these songs to your iPod, you’re now ready to do some cardio. Take your pick, really. Jogging outside, doing aerobics at home with your kids, using an elliptical machine or a StairMaster—all will work just fine. After warming-up with a few minutes of the exercise at a very easy pace, crank up the music! Whenever you hear a fast song, you must up your effort level a bit and do your best to keep it at that pace until the end of the song. Then, whatever song comes next—which by that point I’m sure you will be hoping is a slow song—you adjust your pace to it accordingly. It’s kind of like Richard Simmons’ Sweating to the Oldies—only with better music and less chest hair.
If you fancy yourself more of a weight pusher, for one, you probably never use phrases like “fancy yourself.” Yeah, I should stop doing that. Anyway, before I make myself sound any less weight-room-tough, here’s a little technique to keep your resistance training workouts from becoming stale. They’re called supersets. Not to be confused with compound sets, which involve combining two exercises in a row that work the same muscle group, supersets combine two different muscle groups into one long set. To properly perform a superset, you complete full set of your predetermined repetition count and then immediately—meaning, with almost no rest in between—jump onto a full set of an exercise that works a different muscle group. To make it more clear, I’ll give an example. You do ten reps (repetitions) of bench press, put the weight down, and then go right into a set of pull-ups. In this example, you worked your chest and triceps with the bench press, and then went right into a back and biceps exercise with pull-ups. This would be one complete superset, and upon its completion would be when you take your small break. One to two minutes is sufficient, and then it’s back into your next superset. Not only will this method prove to be a boredom buster, but it will also provide you with more of an aerobic effect than normal, single-set weight lifting. Oh yeah, and it will cut down your time in the gym by almost half!
These are merely a few suggestions. There are countless other fun workout tips and methods you can employ. In fact, if you have a few of your own, feel free to share with the rest of the group, will ya? The comments section is all yours.