Just got back from the gym. Today’s workout was amazing – Just the right amount of cardio, strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. I had that feeling. You know the one. You finish a workout and walk out the door feeling like you could conquer the world by showing them your biceps. That was today.
But I will never do it again.
Just Did A Fantastic Workout.
Here’s Why I Will Never Do It Again.
WANT TO JUST WATCH THE VIDEO PRESENTATION OF THIS POST?
Your brain is a little inherently lazy. Ok, not lazy, per se.
Your brain does not want to work hard unless it absolutely has to. If an action can be automated your brain will automate. If something can be done the same way as last time with less energy, trust me, your brain prefers that well-trodden route every time. If your brain can anticipate and put the task you are doing in the “Ya, I remember from last time. I got this,” box, it will.
And once it does, your brain will send the signal down the “already familiar” path right to the forgone conclusion. So what’s the problem? (Wait for it.)
My buddy Vikki and I joined the first gym ever to open in our hometown (Circa 1985). A trainer took us around and showed us how to do all the exercises and wrote us up a “workout routine.” We were told to come three times a week and perform said workout.
I took this dude seriously. I wanted results. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I took my little card from the front desk and went from top to bottom: 3 sets of twelve 10 pound bicep curls, 3 sets of 12 ten-pound triceps extensions, 3 sets of 12 100-pound leg press and 3 sets of twelve 25-pound hamstring curls. I ended with 22 minutes on the bike at level 8.
We killed it. Like for months. Like, a lot of months.
Suddenly it was quite evident I was not getting any results. Don’t get me wrong; the first couple weeks I had the standard soreness that was a testament to my awesomeness at “the gym”. #ohmyhamstrings. But after awhile I kinda felt like I was going through the motions….. cause, I was. Or rather, my brain was.
So here is the problem. (You didn’t have to wait long)
When your brain operates with efficiency and automation having come to know the workout that you do every time you hit the gym, you are not working as hard. In fact, your brain is so cool that you don’t just hit a plateau you can potentially start to loose the gains you have made.
Take Me and my good friend Vikki. When we started working out my brain said, “Oh, cool, something new and challenging.” After 4-6 weeks my brain was kind of like “Seriously, we are going to do this again? I am so bored!” and eventually at 8-12 weeks it says “Oh, did you just do something? A workout you say? I didn’t notice.”
This is a big problem for those of you who hope to get a little something out of your investment at the gym.
There is good news. You can trump your brain!! Simply challenge your little noggin every single time you go to the gym. Give it a pop quiz if you will. Surprise that cortex, keep it on its gray matter equivalent of toes.
But how do you do that if you are not a professional trainer with dozens of workouts in your head? Simple. Pick a couple of the options listed below and have at it. Your brain will be so challenged you will be seeing greater bang for your gym buck in no time.
- Change the order of your workout. Flip flop, or do every other exercise and then start from the top.
- If you have an area of the body you want to focus on ask yourself how you can perform the exercise differently by changing the intensity, motion or weight.
- Use a kettlebell instead of a dumbbell. A resistance band instead of a barbell. A bodyweight version instead of a cable machine. You get the idea.
- Use a workout “framework” instead of a “routine”. Instead of curls, extensions, leg press, calf raises, you design a framework of, for example, 2 balance exercises, one upper body focus, one lower body focus and a core exercise. If you need help coming up with exercises let me know!
- Insert TABATA or INTERVAL TRAINING into your workout. (See links)
- Do you workout backwards. (Not you! Your workout. Dang, you coulda hurt somebody)
- Change the program on the cardio machine, or better yet, never do the same machine two days in a row. “You did treadmill today? The next workout it has to be the bike, rowing machine, or elliptical.”
- Take a class you have never tried!
- Try a workout routine APP like BODYROCK or SWORKIT
- Throw in some dance moves. FITNESS MARSHALL
- Get outside and hike for a change of pace.
In the last ten years, I have never done the same workout more than once. It may be subtle changes I make or dramatic but my brain is always left going “What the hey???” That is good. Good for gains in strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance.
Stop brain boredom!! This week I challenge you to shake it up. Walk into the gym and try to avoid all your regular spots. Try a new exercise or weight machine. Look up the class schedule. Ask a trainer for assistance and always workout safely and within your limitations.