There’s no doubt about it: doing the same thing for extended periods of time can get, well, boring.
This is as true with exercise as it is with anything else in life.
And while you’re never going to be able to get away from the rockstar exercises like squats, push ups, and burpees, you can find ways to mix up your fitness here and there.
Wondering one of the best ways to shake things up?
Learn a new sport!
It doesn’t have to be scary
Yes, I know, some of you probably have nightmare images of P.E. coming back to you when I mention anything about sports.
Maybe you were terrible at softball (I was), or sucked in golf (I did, but then again, we used whiffle balls instead of golf balls). But the beauty of being an adult is that you get to do anything you want to do.
There’s no mean old P.E. teacher anymore to tell you which sport you have to excel in. You can just have fun.
Are you mindlessly drifting through your workouts, never pushing yourself to go harder, faster, stronger?
This kind of working out won’t get you anywhere.
Because if you want to reach your goals, become healthy for life, and get fitter than you ever thought possible, you can’t just half-ass your workouts.
You have to crush it.
Give it your all
The awesome thing about interval training is that you never have to worry about pacing yourself or saving your energy for later.
If you were running a marathon or participating in a triathlon, you couldn’t just give it your all the entire time—because you’d never finish. Instead, you’d have to pace yourself, working hard to find a steady stride so that you could stay at that exact same pace the entire time and never burn out.
Not so with interval training.
With interval training, because you’re only working in spurts of maybe 20, 30, or 50 seconds, you never have to hold back.
There’s no need to pace yourself, to think about how you’ll be at it for 30 or 60 minutes—because that’s just not the case.
Interval training only works when you work harder than you ever thought possible, making your muscles scream and sweat pour during every single interval.
So don’t hold back. Run, jump, and lift like your life depended on it. Crush it.
If you’ve ever belonged to a gym, you’ve no doubt noticed the cardio crowd—that group of people appearing on the same treadmill, elliptical or stationary bikes day after day, week after week.
These people (sadly, this crowd consists mainly of women) diligently spend 30 to 60 minutes three to five days a week on these machines, usually going at a steady pace, often reading a magazine, and never, ever leaving their sacred cardio area.
And yet, despite their dedication, this cardio crowd always seems to look the same.
While the weightlifters sculpt their bodies and gain strength and endurance in the process, the cardio crowd’s bodies have gotten used to their daily routine… and as a result are not changing at all.
Maybe it’s been months since they’ve seen a shift in their body mass or upped the speed on their machine.
But one thing’s for certain: 99% of this cardio crowd is experiencing a state of constant plateau.
My mom called me up the other day, noticeable worry in her voice.
“I have a problem.”
My mom then explained how after nearly five months of doing some type of resistance training four or five days a week, she was starting to notice her thighs getting bigger.
“And that wasn’t exactly the goal,” she said, obviously freaking out a little.
“Calm down,” I said. “Tell me exactly what’s happening.”
“Well,” she went on, “my waist is getting smaller and firmer, but my thighs are GROWING. It’s getting harder and harder to fit into my pants!”
I laughed, and proceeded to explain.
Here’s what happens when you begin a new exercise program:
You start to lose weight and gain strength almost immediately. This makes you happy and motivates you to keep exercising.
Then you hit your first plateau. Your strength and endurance gains start to slow, and you stop shedding the pounds as quickly as you were in the beginning.
And then… here’s the scary part for women… often certain body parts start getting BIGGER.
Okay, a show of hands…
Who else has ever experienced any sort of muscle soreness or pain?
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that each and every one of you has been sore at one point in your life—and maybe even on a daily/weekly basis (I know I am).
And if you’re like most people, here’s how the pattern typically goes:
You work out hard, and you know that all the pull ups, push ups, squats, and burpees are insanely good for you and that not only will they keep you fit now, they’ll keep you strong, independent and happy later on in life.
But sometimes, you wake up the next day and realize you can barely move. Your neck hurts. Your legs burn. You wonder how you’ll make it through the day… let alone get through the next workout.
Well, unfortunately, there’s no magic button you can push to magically erase all your aches and pains. But there are several different ways to reduce and relieve muscle pain.
Here are some of my favorites:
It’s no secret that people are spending more and more time these days indoors.
Just think about your daily routine. How much of it do you spend at your desk… in your car… on the couch?
Probably a lot, if you’re like most people.
But is all this time spent inside actually good for us?
Here’s what getting outdoors can do for you:
It improves your mood.
If you’ve ever been in a terrible mood and decided to go for a walk instead of wallow in your sadness or anger, you probably remember how your misery let up a little after even just five to ten minutes outdoors.
This happens to me with such consistency that I almost always can tell if I’m getting a little crabby, I’ve been inside too long.
It may sound like pure coincidence, but it really helps.
According to a Harvard study (and many others like it), one of the reasons getting outside can have such a positive effect on your state of mind is that light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in—even on the darkest of winter days.
What’s more, physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside gets you exercising (even if it’s just a walk), then your mood will lift as a result.
There’s something you need to understand, especially if you’re new to the 12 Minute Athlete, new to interval training, or even new to working out at all.
And that something is this: these workouts aren’t easy.
In fact, they’re really, really hard.
And they’re supposed to be hard.
As someone who may have never done a handstand before, never done a strict pull up, maybe even never done a full push up, you may look at the 12 Minute Athlete workouts and think: I can’t do that.
Let me tell you a secret: I would have said the same thing even just a few years ago.
Back then, my workouts consisted of a three mile run; nothing else. I hated them. Plus, I couldn’t do a pull up (or a push up) to save my life.
And now… well, now, I feel pretty good about my fitness level. Sure, I always want to get stronger, faster, and fitter.
But really, who doesn’t?
You can do these workouts
It doesn’t matter what your current fitness level is. You can do the 12 Minute Athlete workouts.
Yes, they’re tough. But the great thing about them is that they’ll always be tough. That means you’ll never hit a plateau or get bored and stop making progress like traditional workouts.
Because the key to these workouts is that you work as hard as you possibly can.
For many people (and you might count yourself as one of them), exercise is a chore.
But here’s the truth: it doesn’t have to be.
I used to feel the same way. I’d go to the gym, waste an hour or so on the treadmill or elliptical machine… use a resistance machine or two… maybe do a few crunches.
Not only did it make me gloomy, my body never transformed the way I wanted it to.
But once I found something I loved, it completely transformed my idea of exercise.
Because here’s the thing…
Exercise doesn’t have to be torture
In fact, for many people (and I now include myself as one of them, after years of dreading it), exercise is a release. It makes people happy. It changes their lives and bodies for the better.
The key is to find something you enjoy.
Everybody can like some form of exercise. Our bodies were made to move. We were not designed to be couch potatoes.
Does this sound like you?
You work out as hard as you can five or six days a week, making sure to include all the good stuff—intervals, squats, pull ups, push ups, and other good-for-you whole body exercises.
You make sure and walk or bike when you can, and if you don’t live in a city, you make a special effort to walk your dog or go for a stroll in the outdoors at least a couple of times a week.
Basically, you’re pretty active.
But what do you do on your off days?