Going to the gym and doing the same old thing day in day out gets boring quickly. Then further down the track, it starts to get harder and harder to drag yourself out of bed each morning when the results that came so easily at the beginning have now stopped.
You may even think about cutting back or even quitting the gym all together.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The majority of your gym time should be spent performing fundamental human movements. These will get you strong and get you most of the results you desire. However, you also need a little wiggle room to spice up your exercise when you’ve either plateaued or gotten bored.
This is when variety is your best friend because this could be the difference between you quitting or smashing your goals.
Use the following exercises like chili pepper in a stew because you all know what happens when you put too much chili in.
1. Have a ball
Medicine balls are found at most gyms hidden in the corner, dirty and misused Gym goers usually use them for core work but the real magic starts when you throw those suckers and make noise.
Your pulse quickens, the sweat beads on your forehead and that bad mood that you came in with slowly disappears. That’s power training, baby. Power training develops a muscle/muscle group’s ability to contract at maximum force in minimal time.
For example, think of throwing a baseball at 100 mph or driving a ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway.
And in elderly males, maximal anaerobic power has been reported to decline 8.3% per decade from age 20 to 70 (Bonnefoy et al. 1998). Which means you either use the power or lose it and I’d rather you use it.
Whether you’re a man or woman, grab a med ball and unleash your inner power with these exercises. After all, who doesn’t like playing ball?
Med ball slam
2. Expand your toolbox
When it comes to fixing a flat tire or needing a plumber to fix your toilet, certain tools work best. For example, you cannot use a plumbing snake to jack up your car. That’s just silly.
However, when it comes to resistance training many different tools will do the same job. Take the rowing exercise, for example. You can do this with either a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, cable machine, resistance band or the TRX.
Changing the tools you use for certain exercises will provide a new stimulus to the body and a new challenge for your mind. Here are a few exercises to get your creative juices flowing.
It helps to think outside the dumbbell.
Single arm kettlebell floor press
The sled (1.37 min mark is my favorite sled exercise)
3. Challenge yourself
You don’t have to go crazy and sign up for a Spartan race or a Tough Mudder but going outside your comfort zone, no matter how much you like your secure bubble, will help break the monotony of your fitness existence.
I like to challenge myself and my clients to do as many reps as possible in 30 seconds and try to beat it next time. For example
30 second bicep curl AMRAP
Overhead triceps ext. AMRAP
Go as fast as you can with good form, record your reps and beat it next time.
4. Partner games
Numerous studies show that social support from a significant other or meaningful friend is highly associated with exercise adherence (Trost et al. 2002). Combine this with playing games and just imagine how much fun you’ll have.
Next time you’re bored or lacking motivation, enlist a friend and try these games. Who knows, you may even smile and exercise at same time.
Balloon tennis (not just a kid’s game)
This is a great substitute for planks, pushups or shoulder work, and it’s simple and easy to play.
Rules (you can play fast and loose with these) – Imagine a straight line down from the edge of your risers. That is your boundary.
Now you and your partner assume a pushup position with feet wider than hip width apart and set up within arms distance from the net.
“Serve” the balloon over the net and bat it back and forth over the net until A) The balloon lands out or B) the balloon touches the ground or C) you or your opponent lose the plank position.
All the above results in point. First to 5 points wins.
Who doesn’t love balloons?
Reaction ball squash
If you don’t have a reaction ball you can get one here.
This is great drill to get you moving in all directions quickly while improving your hand to eye coordination. Play this on the squash or racquetball court.
Set up – The server serves from inside the service box while the receiver stands anywhere within his or her service half.
Rules – Once the ball has been thrown against the far wall and bounced once, it is fair game. If the ball is dropped, missed or has bounced twice, this results in:
- If the server wins, he wins the point and the right to serve again.
- If the receiver catches the ball, he wins the right to serve.
- Only the server wins a point.
The first person to 10 points wins.
If you don’t have a squash/racquetball in your facility, you can do this instead.
Use one or all of the drills described above to keep you fired up and on the fitness straight narrow. Your body and your results may depend on it.