By Jon-Erik Kawamoto, M.Sc.Kin.(c), C.S.C.S., C.E.P. Men’s Fitness
Some of us can spend hours in the gym while others need to be dragged there while kicking and screaming. Just as a roller coaster, our motivation at times can be high while at others be almost non-existent. Being motivated and having the right mindset is an important component to seeing progress and results in the gym, whether you’re trying to put on size or lose fat. A lack of drive can lead to commitment issues and inconsistent training.
Rejuvenate your program and look forward to training again by addressing these 5 reasons why you’re tired of working out:
1. You’re Not Innovative Enough
Doing the same program since high school is a bad idea, and let’s face it: doing 3 sets of 10 can only progress you so far. We are, in fact, creatures of habit, but always doing the same thing in the gym (same reps/sets, grip, exercise order, etc.) will dampen your progress and kill your motivation. Consistency on a program that works with slight variations from week to week is what you need. Instead of the common 3 sets of 10, known as straight sets, try doing a varied-set/rep scheme. The concept behind varied set/rep training is to hit the muscle(s) with varying intensities to stimulate more muscle fibers in order to stimulate more growth.
Ladders involve doing ascending or descending reps such as 5, 7, 9, 11 or 12, 10, 8, 6, respectively. The weight would be adjusted for each set to match the goal number of reps.
2a. Pyramid Rep Scheme
When pyramiding, reps can look like this: 12, 10, 8, 10, 12 or 1, 3, 5, 3, 1. A trainee who has been doing sets of 8 or higher for a long time will really notice strength gains when training with weights suitable to reps of 7 and below.
3a. Grip Switch
Change your grip to stimulate and recruit your muscles differently. Instead of always doing chin ups (double under hand grip), try doing neutral grip (palms facing inward) or pronated chin ups (double over hand grip, known as a pull up). Instead of always doing bench press with a bar, give your shoulders a break by doing a neutral grip dumbbell bench press.
2. You’re Not Progressing
There’s nothing worse than not getting what you want, Training should be goal and results driven, otherwise you’re just lifting random weights in the gym with no purpose. Do you want to increase strength? Then you should be lifting weights for 5 reps or lower and always strive to move the bar faster. Do you want bigger muscles? Then lift weights for 5 reps or higher and always strive to add weight to the bar. Want to lose fat? Dial in your nutrition so you’re in a calorie deficit and bang out energy-depleting-type workouts. The training plan must match your goals in order to achieve them. Know what you want and choose to best plan of attack and remember, you get what you train for.
3. You’re Not Leveraging a Workout Partner
Some people workout great on their own while others need and enjoy working out with friends. Find a training partner who has similar goals to you and has their technique dialed in. He can help you with your form while providing a spot when you’re venturing into heavier weights. Yelling silly things such as “It’s all you, it’s all you!” can be very motivating at the end of a tough set as well. Work off each other and reach new levels of strength and size you wouldn’t normally if training on your own.
4. You’re Over-trained
Some of the best coaches will tell you that recovery is more important than the program itself. Doing trusted programs such as 5×5 or Jim Wendler’s 5, 3, 1 won’t get you the results they promise if you’re not sleeping enough and eating Doritos for dinner.
> Dial in your pre/post workout nutrition and cut the crap (sugars, highly processed and fast foods, trans fats, etc.).
> Get 7 to 9 uninterrupted hours of sleep per night. Staying up late playing video games and waking up early for work the next morning is recipe for a training disaster.
When training, often more is always less. You might think that if training 3x/week is good, training 6x/week will be great! Or 5 sets of 5 will improve strength by X but maybe doing 10 sets of 5 will increase it by Y. Hold your horses partner! Unless you’re a genetic freak, doing this will actually stall your progress and leave you over-trained, fatigued and unmotivated. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym to see results.
> Follow the Law of Diminishing Returns and find out what works best for you. Experiment with different set/rep schemes and different programs. Document your progress and recovery. Emphasize your recovery just as much as you emphasize lifting weights and you’ll make progress.
5. You’re Environment Has Gone Stale
Training in a sweaty hot gym can get old fast. Spice up your training with new machines and different pieces of equipment by training at a different gym. A new training atmosphere (people, music, smell, air conditioning, etc.) might be the thing you need to get motivated again. If you’re training at senior’s hour, it’s probably time for a change. Pick up a class to supplement your program. Buy a sand bag and a kettlebell and find a park with a monkey bar set. You’d be surprised how much you can kick your own ass with just a bag, bell and a bar.
Get the results you’ve been training for and enjoy working out again.