Wednesday, January 22, 2020

20 Tips for Getting Out of a Workout Rut

20 Tips for Getting Out of a Workout Rut

Working out regularly isn't always easy to accomplish and if you're doing it, you already deserve a pat on the back. You are clearly committed to your goals and prioritising your fitness, so way to go! You know what is easy though? Getting into a workout rut... It happens to all of us and it can feel draining, soul destroying and in some cases, it can be the reason why you give up completely. I feel like a new workout commitment always starts with either incredible enjoyment or fierce determination and before I know it, I'm dreading my sweat sessions, not performing as well as I normally do and starting to see a plateau in terms of progressing towards my goals. The rut seems to get deeper and a feeling of failure sets in, but you're not failing, you just need a change or maybe a little push to reignite that excitement, determination and motivation. Here are some tips to help you get out of that rut the next time it creeps in...

1. Do something you love and enjoy!
For me, this is the most important factor. Historically speaking, if I'm not doing something I love, I'm doing nothing. While some people are motivated strictly by health, fitness or any sort of physical activity, we're not all the same and we don't need to be to find success in our routines. I am someone who loves to be physically active when I am working towards achieving a goal that's important to me or doing something I truly enjoy, but I can't get excited about being active strictly in the name of fitness if it involves doing something I'm not keen on. If you feel a little lacklustre about your workout routine, perhaps you can find something you enjoy doing more or an activity you love that you can work toward. You might not be into weight training, but if it's going to help you run the marathon you're so excited about or climb that mountain you're hoping to scale in a few months you probably won't dislike it so much. For me personally, I love dancing, which is part of my weekly fitness schedule, but I do other forms of physical activity to help me be stronger, manage my knee energy, move faster and have more endurance when I dance. The thing I'm most excited about motivates the others making them a lot more enjoyable and so much less tedious. If you're struggling to get your workouts in, start small. Find something active you really enjoy and start doing it, even if it's only once a week. Something is better than nothing and you may find yourself increasing your activity gradually after time because you're more motivated by something you actually enjoy.

2. Switch up your routine.
Sometimes a change in the order of how you do things is enough to reignite your interest. If you normally go to the gym in the morning, maybe you can go sometimes in the evenings for a change of pace. If you do weights twice a week and run five times a week, maybe you can change those numbers slightly or add something else to the routine like a swim once or twice a week. You might even find that you're someone who needs a slightly different routine all the time and planning that might be something you enjoy. Get creative and switch up that routine - it might make things exciting again. If you're not into planning or can't figure out how to keep yourself interested, try something like Orangetheory Fitness, a class that changes daily. Click here to read about my recent experience with Orangetheory Fitness (gifted experience).

3. Try something new.
If you're bored, you might just need a change. Try adding something new once or twice a week at first like a class or a new type of exercise. You might just find that you want that new thing all the time and that it's a lot more motivating. Or it might just be a great way to keeping the boredom at bay, making you more motivated for your regular workout sessions. Either way it's a win and switching things up can keep your muscles from getting bored too.

4. Take up a challenge.
A challenge that you're planning for can help keep you motivated and pull you right out of that workout rut you've been experiencing. Sign up for a race or a marathon, commit to a climb or a hike, train for a long charity walk or in my case, plan for a dance competition in the future. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it's a challenge for you. Knowing that date is coming closer with every passing day will help you get over the hump. I personally find that it gets me excited about my workouts and I become more focused on my goals. Health and fitness is a worthy goal, but after a while it can become difficult to sustain momentum because as they say, life gets in the way. Having a challenge to prepare for with a deadline makes procrastination less of an option and gives you a real, tangible reason to get up and get training every week.

5. Change your surroundings.
The same environment day in, day out can be monotonous and suck the motivation right out of you. If you find yourself dreading going to your workouts, perhaps a change of scenery will do you good. If you normally train in the gym, try taking it outside occasionally. Sign up for ClassPass so you can work out in different places a few times a month. Getting away from your usual training space will break the monotony and it might just help you to look forward to returning to familiar surroundings. Click here to read my review of ClassPass.

6. Update your play list.
Nothing motivates my workout like the right music. Whether I'm in a Pilates class, at the dance studio or having a sweat session on the cross trainer, I can get so pumped and end up working so much harder if my play list is on point. That said, it's really easy to let it slip and get bored with your workout jams, so keep that play list regularly updated. Set some dates in your diary throughout the year to add a few new songs or make new play lists and keep yourself entertained while you train.

7. Set a new goal.
The thing about goals (in my humble opinion) is that the more you can actually achieve them, the more motivating they are so keep them small and get excited every time you smash one. Make sure your goal is measurable so you can get invested in tracking it. Some examples might be measurements, weight loss or the number of hours you spend training. Maintenance is also a worthy goal, so perhaps you'll want to simply maintain measurements, your weight or your routine for a specified time period. Once you've smashed that goal, start thinking about the next one. A new goal can boost your motivation and help you get out of that rut.

8. Get a trainer.
You can't do everything on your own and you shouldn't have to. This is a major lesson I learned in 2019. I work for myself which requires me to always be on top of my scheduling and motivation where my job is concerned, so I didn't realise it for a long time, but maintaining willpower and sustaining regular workouts on my own was a challenge. I figured this out because of my dance lessons and I realised how valuable it was for me to have someone else to tell me what to do, push me, help me set goals and be in charge of the program for 3 hours a week. Once I realised this, I decided to delegate responsibility within my workout plan too. I entertained the idea of a personal trainer, which I've had before and I still haven't ruled it out for the future, but ultimately I decided to start with regular Pilates classes instead of going to the gym by myself. Have someone else be in charge for an hour a few days a week makes all the difference because I don't have to think about it. I never walk out of my workouts now because I don't know what to do next, I don't have the motivation to push myself further or I haven't got a plan B when the machines I need are busy. There's someone with a plan waiting for me - all I have to do is show up and reap the benefits and it makes all the difference. A personal trainer can also give you goals, workout plans and possibly even nutrition goals, so you can be motivated to come back to him or her with results.

9. Take a break.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing. If you're in a rut, maybe it's because you need to take some time off. It can be a small break and doesn't derail your progress, but just gives you a bit of time to refresh, recharge and recover before hitting the ground running again. Occasionally when I'm in a rut, I'll plan a break. I might decide on the fly and just give myself a weekend off or I might build it into my schedule further in advance for other reasons, like a holiday or a special event. I always feel that after even one day away that I wouldn't normally take off that I'm excited to get back to it. That said, if you're really feeling disillusioned with your routine, I'm not against taking a longer break... A holiday might just be what you need and you can use that time to think and reflect. Do you miss it? Do you still hate it? Is it time for a change or did you just need a rest?

10. Go back to basics.
Sometimes performance gets in the way. Do you feel like your physical activity of choice is getting too hard to maintain? Or do you feel like your form is off? Go back to basics. Relish in the joy of simplicity and get to a place where you can remember why you started and how far you've come. Not only will it be a lovely walk down memory lane, but you'll also get some insight into what you can work on going forward.

11. Up the fun factor in your fitness routine.
If it was easy, they wouldn't call it working out, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Invite your friends, take an active holiday, try something more upbeat, run a beer or wine marathon or go to one of the many classes that feel more like nightclubs than workouts. There's fun to be had with physical activity and getting a few of these things in the diary will have you feeling pumped in no time.

12. Upgrade your workout gear.
If fitness is a priority, dress for it. If you got a raise at work you might treat yourself to chic new bag or a great new outfit to wear to the office. Why not do the same with your workout gear? If you spend a lot of time working out, don't you think it's worth having a great fitness wardrobe? If you're in a rut, perhaps it's time for astyle upgrade... Treat yourself to some new trainers, buy that expensive pair of leggings you've had your eye on or invest in another piece of kit. I think most of are likely to put our time and energy where we put our money... So if you need a bit of a push, treat yourself.

13. Get some inspiration.
Sometimes the only thing I need to get excited about physical activity is a fitness magazine, a good memoir, a documentary, a drama about athletes or a good fitness blog post. As I write this I'm watching a TV show about figure skaters and it's making me excited about my next trip to the dance studio and getting to a Pilates class as soon as possible. I also find I'm always a lot more motivated when I come home from watching a professional dance competition - it's hard not to be inspired by the impressive strength and fitness of incredible dancers! If you need some motivation, find some whether it's something you read, something you watch, an influencer you admire, listening to a podcast, attending a sports match or simply scheduling a lunch with a fitspo friend.

14. Sign up for something.
This one can be fitness-related, but it doesn't have to be. Motivation can come in many forms and in some cases, something completely unrelated can help you out of the rut you're in. I once signed up for a baking club and ironically it motivated me to be more committed to my fitness routine. Strangely enough, this monthly meeting of baking enthusiasts where we ate tons of cake was full of super active people that ranged from running club members & marathoners to climbers, fitness instructors and fitness influencers. Many of the club members joined running clubs together, conversations often were about recommending great PT's or classes and one member was an accomplished climber who started his fitness journey after a catastrophic back injury. It was great motivation. This is just one example. Sign up for something that will provide you the motivation you need to be your best self, whether it's a club of like-minded individuals, a hobby sports team, a golf tournament, a dance class, a professional group of some kind, a charity or whatever you choose. You might find your workout motivation where you least expect it.

15. Get some new peeps involved.
Accountability is everything sometimes, so having other people to make sure you show up or make you want to be there can be super helpful. Last year when I decided to increase the amount of physical activity I do, I decided to try to make it social when possible. When friends said they wanted to get together, I suggested they meet me for a Pilates class and then coffee or brunch afterwards. It made me excited to go and also, sharing my favourite workout with friends helped me to see it with new eyes. Having a regular workout buddy is one thing, but changing up the people you're with from time to time, even if for just one session can help break the monotony.

16. Change your workout time.
If you're struggling to maintain your workout schedule or starting to dread your sweat sesh, try changing the time. If you work out after work, perhaps mornings would be better or vice versa. Even though it might be hard at first, sometimes a change is good.

17. Book an active holiday.
I've never been on an active holiday before, but it's definitely something I'm hoping to do in the next year or two. Spending a week or even a long weekend doing something fun and physically challenging in a beautiful place sounds like so much fun. It's also a bit like a goal... Knowing you're going to be engaging in physical activity with lots of other fit people is good training motivation. The more you do now, the more you'll be able to do when you go. From yoga retreats to horse-riding excursions, chances are if you enjoy something active, there's a holiday out there dedicated to it, so just get to Googling.

18. Join a fitness group or club.
If you live in a city there are undoubtedly countless running and fitness clubs you could join. London has loads of them, many of which are free. If you don't live in a big city and can't find a group you'd like to join, start one. I once had a boss who belonged to a club called Drinkers With a Running Problem. They'd meet for a run and one member each week was responsible for providing & hosting the drinks afterwards. Some people I know from my hometown have started workout groups and they meet up so many times a month to work out and track progress. It's a great way to transition your solo workout into a team effort for camaraderie, accountability and a bit of fun too!

19. Remember why you started.
For me, this is a biggie... Whenever I feel like I just can't carry on anymore or get discouraged, I always try to remember why I started something - I find it helpful in maintaining perspective, which is so important. It's easy to feel like you've plateau'd, to lose interest and to become complacent in your fitness routine. I'd be willing to bet that it happens to pretty much everyone, especially as you start to get close to your ideal fitness level and begin to feel a little less challenged, excited and accomplished as you did when you first began. Remembering why you started can renew your motivation and remind you what you why your plan is and always was a good idea.

20. Look at how far you've come.
This is another biggie... Sometimes it's hard to see the progress, especially if it's slow and steady, which in my humble, unqualified opinion is the best, most sustainable progress. If you're really in a rut and losing the will to get up and go, look at some old photos or recount a list of your accomplishments. You had no idea that when you started you'd get to where you are now, which means that right now, you are probably a little unaware of how much more you're capable of achieving or where your winding path might lead you next. Most likely you don't want to go back to where you were and remembering the journey might just be the boost you need.

If you have any tips not mentioned above that can help us all avoid the dreaded workout rut, please do share them in the comments below.

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