Motivation for training ebbs and flows; one week you're pumped to sweat on the stairs and take your frustrations out on the iron, and the next week you're finding it hard to get off the couch.
When the doldrums visit—and they will—you don't simply have to "suck it up," "power through," "grit your teeth," or whatever other cliché comes to mind. You could also use it as an opportunity to change up your training or nutrition—which is maybe what your body is asking for after all!
Here are seven ways to make it happen.
1. Make Your Epic Workout Shorter And Spicier
Workouts that stretch to the hour mark and beyond can be beneficial. But at times, they also just feel, well, long.
For a short training session that delivers strength, hypertrophy, and a high-rep pump, kick off your next International Chest Day, with this quick routine.
The 5-8-12 rep scheme allows you to go heavy and build strength on the first multijoint movement before fatigue sets in. You then taper off to the muscle-growth range, progressively upping your reps and chasing the burn before finishing the workout.
Looking for other workouts that cut to the chase while helping you grow? Check out these other 30-minute muscle-building workouts for every muscle group!
2. Ditch Your Split
Yeah, about that split you just mentioned... Sure, splits can be great for muscle growth, but they can also be really demanding. Cultivating a gym habit of 5-7 days a week can put the brakes on your social life, too.
Instead of rearranging your life to lift, consider doing some time with a 3-day full-body training plan.
By targeting your entire body every workout, you'll be hitting muscle groups more than once a week, exposing fibers to additional stimulus, and potentially fostering more growth—particularly if you've been on a split for a while. The varied volume and intensity will give your body enough time to recover, making you stronger when—or if—you return to your split.
3. Follow A Free-Form Workout
Free-form workouts can be problematic as an overall approach, but when done correctly with the guidance of an elite coach like Mike Robertson, they can also be a great break from the norm. Don't think of it as giving up on your current program—think of it as resetting and giving it another go.
To ensuring your new workouts hold your attention and remain effective—instead of just leaving you scrambling from available machine to available machine—use a template like the one in Robertson's "How to Freestyle Workouts on the Fly."
Here's what Mike recommends for one of the days, along with several movement choices.
Check out the article for the full anti-program.
- Compound press: Bench press, incline bench, dumbbell bench, military press
- Supplemental posterior chain: Barbell Romanian deadlift
- Pull-up/chin-up variation: Weighted or unweighted pulls, TRX bodyweight row
- Knee flexion: Glute-ham raise, Nordic hamstring, ball leg curl
- Core exercise: Your choice
4. Embrace The Outdoors
Warm summer weather can leave your enthusiasm for the neon lights, recirculated air, and unique smells of the gym at an all-time low. But guess what? You're not doomed to be there all the time! Whenever possible, break free from the brick-and-mortar gym and embrace the outdoors by trying one of Jeremiah Salas' "4 Outdoor Workouts You'd Actually Try."
If you think outdoor workouts have to be a step down in quality or intensity, try this and get back to us. With a little creativity, you can make a children's playground a legitimate ground for gains. The vitamin D you soak up from the sun's rays will boost your testosterone production, while the wind and sun in your face will give you a renewed sense of vigor.
Want to know where to start? Go to the nearest park and try this routine from Salas.
5. Stop White-Knuckling Your Diet
Skipping meals or eating bird-sized portions can lead to drastic weight loss initially, but sustained caloric restriction will eventually lead to bad workouts, exhaustion, and potentially, long-term metabolic damage.
Instead of weighing out every gram or tacking a "bad foods" list to your fridge, try a simpler, more intuitive approach like Paul Salter's "Simplest Weight-Loss Diet Ever." This approach is all about a few simple priorities and your hands.
With this simple plan, you focus on eating vegetables and 30 grams of protein at each meal. Complex carbs are centered around your workout, to replenish your fuel tank. Feeling lost without a scale? No problem. You measure the food with your hands! Aim for a palm of protein, a fist of carbs, and a thumb-sized portion of fats per meal.
6. Re-Focus On The Fundamentals
Over time, it can be easy to absorb new exercise into your routine like a sponge. Eventually, you're working out for almost two hours, doing movements that are basically the same as the other movements. This is a recipe for a first-class fitness rut.
The answer might just be to cut back and pour your energy into mastering these "6 Exercises You Need to Be Doing." Get stronger with the bench press, squat, curl, row, overhead press, and deadlift, and you'll get stronger, period. Then, once you've made some progress, switch your focus back to whatever it was before—fat-loss, muscle-building, whatever—and you'll be better prepared.
7. Train For Athleticism
Training for appearance or full-throttle strength works great for some people, but it's not for everyone. However, training to boost performance in another activity you love may be just the ticket. Rather than following some random program from an athlete who competes in a sport that you don't, try Mike Robertson's "The Program That Will Make You Better at Any Sport."
Training equally for strength, muscularity, and conditioning will allow you to move well and look great. You'll be fast, explosive, and recover more quickly.
Here's a day of lower-body emphasis from Robertson's program, incorporating explosive power training, strength, and assistance work:
- Power: 5- to 10-yard dash, box jump
- Strength: Double-kettlebell front squat
- Durability: Chin-up, RDL, push-up to down dog, plank
- Conditioning: Sled push, sled sprint pull, plate push
Now you've got plenty of choices—and no excuses. Go rediscover your passion for fitness!