Today’s article is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart, something I think about quite often, something I get asked about quite often and that is:
“What do we do when training gets boring?”
I wanted to get to the root of why training gets boring and the root of beyond that. Why we train. We initially begin training, we get excited about the process, we get excited about something new. The root, for most of us, for motivation is learning a new skill, grasping something new, mastering it, getting better at it and seeing us progress. I think that’s just a part of human nature. I notice with myself a lot of the things that I like to do in my free time are things that you can constantly be improving.
Mastering Different Skills
Growing up playing sports as a soccer player, once you master a certain move, then you master the next move, then you’ve got to work on location, etc.
When it gets to the gym, it’s very exciting the first time you learn how to bench press and then someone shows you how to do it properly or the first time you squat and it feels terrible and then you learn how to squat properly. You feel like, “Oh, I’ve mastered that skill.” It gets very exciting and then you want to do a squat program.
I think what’s very common right now is for people to get into a strength program, resistance training and then reach a plateau. They get bored and then they look for that next goal. Bodybuilding is the same type of thing. We’re mastering our bodies, we were getting leaner, looking better, and also posing better. Powerlifting, you learn to master these skills to such a high degree that you’re actually going to be able to use them at a competition level.
What I wanted to talk a little bit about today is what can we do when training gets bored. I’ve kind of already alluded to a few of the things that I would suggest. As someone who has been training for 7 years, I just wanted to give a very high level top down look at what are some of the things that I’ve done to keep my interest in the gym. Let me say this right off the bat, I’m not always super motivated to go to the gym. One thing I have is patience and faith in the process and I understand that for me to get better, I have to be consistent. Beyond all the things that I’m going to talk about today with motivation and consistency, consistency is by far the most important of those two. You don’t always have to be motivated, but you always have to be consistent.
When we’re talking about getting bored with training, let’s just say you’re on a typical bro split where you’re training a body part once a week. You got a leg day, you got a shoulder day, you got a back day, a chest day, an arm day, right. That gets a little bit tiresome. After a couple of months, maybe six months, the progress stops. Where do we go from there?
Switching It Up
This is where we can get into some unique training programs. If you’re not going to change intensities, you maybe start doing things like drop sets, super sets, timing your sets, etc. Changing the variables, trying to master things. This is one place where cross fit gets it right because at no point do you master cross fit. You just change the variables. ‘’Now, you have to do this WOD in this amount of time.’’ You’re always pushing yourself and changing. That’s why I think cross fit has a such a wide popularity base because the skills you’re learning, you’re always applying them to a new thing.
The same can be true for bodybuilding and powerlifting. That’s kind of what I’ve done over my lifetime in the gym to kind of keep things interesting. When I reach a plateau, let’s say I’ve bench pressed for a few months or maybe a year or two and I’ve gotten to a point where I get bored with bench. Well, I immediately say to myself, “What would be a fun lift to get really strong at?” Maybe, I want to get good at incline dumbbell bench pressing and I want to do those 150 pound dumbbells on the incline. Well, it’s not going to happen today. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it might happen in six months if I start programing for it. The same thing I do over and over for all the lifts.
Even things like trying crazy programs, like Smolov for squats, maybe a four day a week arm program. There’s lots of options out there but the thing is just being consistent in applying something and then using it for a period of time, seeing what you enjoy. At the end of that period, once you’ve learned what you’re enjoying and what you’re not enjoying, that’s when we can address what’s the next thing. Now at this point we’re strictly talking about what you enjoy, not so much about how optimal it is.
That’s one thing I like about competing is that every time you compete, you see some changes. You also see areas that need to be addressed more, some weaknesses. Then, you go back to the drawing board and you address those changes.
Within your boredom, within your program that you’re currently doing, look around and see what some other people are doing. Maybe get a magazine, maybe get a book, maybe just look at some YouTube videos on training styles and discuss some ideas with yourself, with those around you, maybe your training partner and you can switch it up. Maybe competing isn’t for you, maybe power lifting isn’t for you but maybe you can have a goal to hit a number on a certain lift.
Setting Different Goals
I have a lifetime goal to hit a four hundred pound bench, five hundred pound squat, being lean, athletic, all these things and so at periods of my training life, these are things that I actually shot and shoot for. I went into the gym and I programed for them and I planned for them. I did whatever I needed to do to reach that goal to get in my best shape ever. Whatever my goal is I’m constantly trying to plan ahead because mastering those little individual skills along the way even if it’s not exciting from day to day, it still keeps me going. I’m excited to go to the gym today. I have a leg day. I’m going to try to do a little bit more volume than I did last week because I want my legs to get slightly bigger to balance my physique more.
I’m constantly setting these little goals for myself and I find that has allowed me to remain consistent especially over the last few years. For most people that start out, yes they would train but they would also be a lot more inconsistent because they would get bored. They don’t plan ahead. They don’t have goals. The only goal is to go in the gym and put on muscle but after a period of time, putting on muscle doesn’t happen as easily and it happens certainly a lot slower and it’s a lot less visible. The scales not changing and the weights in the gym aren’t changing.
So what I found, for most people, with bodybuilding and powerlifting is setting these goals for yourself, it allows you to remain a lot more consistent. I think for you if you’re getting bored with your training, the key is plan out what your next goal is. Plan out a way to change so that you are learning a new skill and integrating it.
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