One of the biggest truths when it comes to strength and conditioning is that boring will often get you the best results. It’s no secret that deadlifts and squats will get you stronger or that sled sprints or interval training on a bike or rower will turn you into a metabolic monster. But plain and simple isn’t always fun.
We all want to be leaner, stronger, and faster. I get it. I spent over 5 years chasing strength and competed both as an Olympic weightlifter and a powerlifter. I can’t tell you how many deadlifts I have done in that period but admittedly was certainly lacking in the conditioning part of the equation. Most of my results came from only a handful of lifts….lots and lots of the same lifts.
I understand that most people, however, will get bored very quickly doing the same thing over and over again and in most cases the psychological benefits of training are just as important if not more than the physiological results. When it comes to results a combination of smart programming and consistency is king. To that end, if a program is boring you won’t want to do it so here are a few fixes to make sure you don’t get stuck in a rut.
1. Get a new strength and conditioning program.
There is nothing to reinvigorate your excitement for training than starting a new program. At my training facility, AMP Fitness, each client receives a new program every 4 weeks which provides both physiological and psychological benefits. It is a lot of work on our end but it is something I feel is key for consistency and success.
It is a tragedy when I see people doing the same old routine month in and month out. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you feel like you have hit a plateau that has lasted since 1997 (or longer) it may be time to switch things up!
2. Train using different variations of basic exercises.
As I said before, the most basic exercises are often the ones that provide the best results but that doesn’t mean that you are limited to only do one version and one version only. It is easy to even follow the same program and just tinker with variations of the lifts to spice it up just enough to make to make it more challenging or engaging.
Here are a few variations of some basic lifts:
- sumo deadlifts
- trapbar deadlifts
- Jefferson deadlifts
- rack deadlifts
- axle bar or Fat Gripz deadlifts
- front squat
- goblet squat
- overhead barbell or dumbbell squat
- rear foot elevated split squat
- Zercher squat
- 1-arm dumbbell bench press
- neutral grip dummbbell bench press
- close-grip barbell bench press
- Swiss bar bench press
- dumbbell rows
- cable rows
- band rows
- renegade rows
- Fat Gripz rows
- 3-Point rows
- chest supported rows
- machine rows
- chin ups
- neutral grip pull ups
- towel pull ups
- Fat Gripz pull ups
3. Use different equipment.
The variations I just mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg of weighted exercises. Just think about what you can do with objects like kettlebell, , suspension trainers, sliders, bands, etc. The list goes on and on and providing these different stimuli will not only keep it interesting but may also give you better results.
It can be hard to travel and/or get some training in a gym you are not accustomed to but with a little ingenuity you will survive. You may even find some new variation of a lift with a piece of equipment you have never used or even revert to using machines for a workout or two. Trust me, you will be okay. And you may give your body a different challenge to bust through a stale workout plateau.
4. Compete with yourself.
One of the main reasons I have competed in various lifting sports is simply to challenge and compete with myself. It gives me a reason to progress and chase PRs (personal records) and allows me to set attainable goals.
Challenging yourself doesn’t have to be hitting a 500lb deadlift and I’m sure that many people could care less about how much weight they can perform a certain lift with. That’s okay.
Setting small challenges for yourself can be a good thing, though, to keep your training fresh and give you something to work towards. Here are a few simple challenges you can do yourself:
- gain the ability to do an exercise you aren’t able to do now
- perform a metabolic workout and time yourself. Perform it again and try to beat that time.
- perform a circuit as many times as you can in a target time. Perform it again and try to beat the number of reps or exercises you do.
My good friend and fitness superstar, Jen Sinkler, has put together a monster 130-workout pick-and-choose conditioning workout program called Lift Weights Faster. It is a game changer in the fitness industry and it is something I plan to implement with my client’s at AMP Fitness. It comes complete with a full exercise glossary that includes written descriptions and photographic demonstrations of over 225 exercises (from classic moves to more creative ones), a video library that includes coaching on 14 of the more technical lifts, five challenge-workout videos, plus a dynamic warm-up routine. I can’t tell you how neat and easy to use this will be for any fitness level and can be used over and over!
Each and every workout is organized by the equipment you use and how much time you’ve got (10, 20, or 30 minute routines). If you are looking for something to keep you engaged if you get bored with your workouts easily this is a no brainer. And if you like a challenge, there are five “CHALLENGE” workouts that you can track online and check yourself VS the leaderboard. Yes, there are others that will be lifting weights faster too!