How To Pump Up Your Pumping Iron Session
A lot of people tell me that they find the gym to be boring. So, I thought it’d be helpful to share some of my tips for keeping your workout fun, full of energy and effective – and keep you coming back to the gym for more! Hopefully this post will get you excited to rise and shine and move..and revive your gym routine!
Pump Up The Volume
I know that many treadmills have TVs in front of them, however, I still find music to be my number one motivator when I’m feeling tired during a run. Sometimes I watch the TV on mute, but I don’t find anything about the news or latest Bravo show to be encouraging for my tempo and my drive to continue running. I like to make personalized playlists for different types of runs. For instance, if I’m doing sprint intervals, I’ll alternate songs that are more intense and fast paced with quieter, slower songs to match my pace. Or, if I’m doing a steady run, I’ll make a playlist that incorporates the most intense, fun songs in the middle and toward the end of my playlist to coincide with my dwindling energy so that I can keep going strong. Also, I always make sure to make playlists longer than my actual planned cardio session so that if I decide to stay on longer I can be excited by the new music. Another helpful tip is to constantly add new music and make new playlists, and put them on shuffle if you don’t feel like you need the beats in a particular order. This can get me excited to go to the gym because I get to take a music break and hear my favorite new songs. Plus, I never know what’s coming next, which helps to keep things exciting and interesting. Oh, and don’t forget to pump up the volume – you want some energy to take you through those hills. Which brings me to…
Feel Inclined To Add A Little Incline
You know that little incline button on your treadmill? Use it! Also, ellipticals have incline and resistance buttons, which allow you to customize your workout and add in more effort – effortlessly. I like to simulate hills that naturally occur while running outside, so every few minutes I’ll add inclines throughout my run. I usually maintain a 0.5 or 1.0 incline on a treadmill as my “flat” surface to increase the effort without really running up a mountain the entire time. Then, I’ll either add timed hill intervals or randomly decide to run at a steeper incline for a few minutes. It can also be great to mix things up and power walk up a large hill (think 7.0+ incline) during your cardio session, so that you can engage your glutes more. The hill intervals make it so I don’t get bored and also, surprisingly, make the rest of the (flat) workout seem easier in comparison. Great for a mind trick, as well as your stems.
Add A Little Speed
So, before you call me crazy for thinking that sprint intervals are fun, try it! I personally find sprint intervals to be less monotonous than a steady run at the same pace. I like to plan my sprints either by the clock (perhaps sprinting for 30 seconds, walking for a minute, jogging/running for 1 minute, repeat) , my music (sprint for a chorus, jog/run for the rest), or where I am on the track (the treadmill I use has a touch screen that shows different sceneries – I like the track, which traces your steps with a red line so you can see how far along you are – I tend to sprint the straight sides and jog or walk along the curves). However, the term sprint is key! Think speeds around 9.0 or 10.0 + on a 12.0 speed treadmill. Increase sprint time and decrease walk/jog time as this becomes easier. Or, eliminate walking entirely and recover with a jog or a run as you train more. Instead of stepping on to the hamster wheel and dreading it, add some pep to your step and mix up your session. I try to do a 30-40 minute sprint interval session at least once a week – to keep me toned, de-stressed, and excited to hit the gym!
Take It Outside
Last weekend felt like a heat wave, so I took my run outside with a friend. Okay, maybe not a heat wave, but here in NYC it’s been in the single digits for awhile and last weekend it was 45 degrees and bright sunshine. Although I am a self-proclaimed gym rat and typically prefer my gym sessions to any other type of workout, I was thrilled to take my workout outside and hit the pavement. Mixing up where – and how – you do your routine spices things up in your mind, as well as your body. Performing new moves adds to muscle confusion, which forces motor units within your muscles to be recruited for new tasks and neural connections to be made. If you do the same thing all of the time, not only will you be bored – so will your muscles. Running outside adds resistance from the wind and naturally occurring hills and differences in terrain texture. Also, there is no better feeling (in my opinion) than finding the perfect scenic route and surrounding yourself with nature while clearing your head on a run. My favorite spot is the reservoir in Central Park. Find your favorite running spot and leave the gym (and your boredom) at home.
This is the single most important tip I can give you for avoiding boredom – and plateaus in fitness and weight. Our bodies are quick to learn movements (muscle memory is REAL) and as soon as we make those neural connections, it becomes easier to perform that task. My challenge to you is to challenge yourself. Force yourself to incorporate one new workout (whether it is one new workout per week, per workout session, per 3 workout sessions, whatever works for you!) and try it. I like to play around and discover new movements, pick up new tips from magazines or the internet, try something I learned in a gym class I took recently, or bring back old favorites that I haven’t done in awhile. Also, you can challenge yourself by trying out variations on movements that you’re comfortable with – such as performing leg lifts during a plank, trying jump squats, or doing a diamond (triceps) push-up. It’s also exciting to set a lofty goal (such as doing a 2 minute plank when you’re not used to doing them for longer than 30 seconds) and watch yourself work up to it. Or, my personal favorite – sign up for a new class, a race, or a fitness challenge. It can actually be fun to challenge yourself and afterwards, you will feel so accomplished – and sore!
Now It’s Your Turn!
I hope that you found these tips to be helpful and are excited to try out some of these ideas in your next workout! Keep checking out my blog for fitness tips – and for tips for fueling your body with good nutrition. Remember, your body works hard for you. It’s important that you treat it with respect, challenge it, have fun with it and make it strong – and happy!
*Prior to beginning any fitness regimen, please consult your physician and make sure that you are fit to engage in such activity. If you feel unfit to perform this or any other recommended exercise, or feel faint, ill, injured or uneasy while performing an exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
*dumbells photo courtesy of:http://activeevolutionfitness.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dumbbells.jpg
*treadmill photo courtesy of: http://www.treadmilladviser.com/images/nt-x9i-incline-trainer.gif