Courtesy Harley Pasternak
Harley Pasternak
October 09, 2013 04:30 PM

Are you bored with your fitness routine?

Workout boredom is no small problem. It’s actually in the top five reasons why people stop exercising (after time, money, weather and self-consciousness). The Make Boring Brilliant workout survey conducted by vitaminwater zero in August found that more than 50 percent of people are bored with their workout.

Before you let boredom slow you down, try some of my top tips to beat boredom and re-energize your workout!


Change the Beat

Nothing can change my mood quite like music – especially in the gym. While I love my everyday workout mix, sometimes it just doesn’t quite do it for me. When I need a change of pace, I switch it up and pump up the volume, and it always surprises me how a little thing like that can completely change how I feel and move. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Neuropsychology found that a strongly rhythmic beat has the power to encourage a person to move faster or slower to match it – even if it’s not at the preferred pace of the exerciser.

Change Your Workout Time

I’m constantly asked, “What’s the best time of day to exercise?” My answer is usually “whatever time you’re most likely to do it!” If you’re a regular exerciser, though, changing up the time of day you work out can give your routine a totally different feel. Opinions in the health community range widely on what time is, so it’s all about what works for you. Morning gym-goers report better, deeper sleep and lower blood pressure, but afternoon exercisers are more awake and alert, which decreases the likelihood of injury. If you work out at a gym and have the luxury of a flexible schedule, try going at off-peak hours (generally between 1 and 4 p.m.). You may be surprised how having access to more equipment can inspire you to change it up.

Location, Location, Location

Maybe all you need to liven up your workout is a change of venue. As the weather gets cooler, many of us are forced back inside to exercise, but if you’re sick of the gym, try working out at home! If you can’t escape the distractions at home, try a local school or get together some friends to play basketball, go for a hike or go dancing.

Partner Up


Having someone to talk to during your workout will certainly make your workout less boring, but working out with a friend has some other major bonuses. A friend can keep you from canceling, encourage you not to skip that last set, and even add a competitive element to your tired routine. Not only that, it can help you lose more weight! A two-year study out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that participants who worked out with a friend lost more weight than those that did not.

Tune In

One of my favorite tricks to get my clients to do cardio is to get them started on an exciting TV series like Homeland, Girls or Breaking Bad and making them promise not to watch the show unless they’re doing cardio. If I prop my Surface tablet up on the elliptical or stationary bike, I’ll get so engrossed in a show that I’m at 30 minutes before I know it! If videos distract you too much, try an interesting podcast, stand-up routine, or audiobook.

Tools of the Trade

Bored with dumbbells? Try barbells, kettle bells, a medicine ball, resistance bands, or your own body weight as resistance. Sometimes new tools, means new, fun, interesting exercises!

Courtesy FitBit

Get in to the Spirit of Competition

My wife and I are in a healthy FitBit competition. A FitBit is a digital pedometer that syncs with your phone and keeps track of how much you move (and how many calories you burn each day). By challenging your friends, coworkers, family members, or yourself, you can make getting more physical activity fun.

You can also do a variety of activities outside the gym, like hiking, walking, dancing, gardening, or household chores as a way to hit your daily step goal.

Mix up Your Variables

May years ago I was an exercise scientist for the military. During those “nerd years,” I devised a workout plan called Multiple Variation Training. The program was based on the scientific principle, if you want to your body to keep changing, you need to keep changing up your workout. I created a formula that divided work done by time it took to do it. So, you would take the number of exercises you do times the number of sets per exercise, times the number of reps per set, times the amount of resistance per rep, and divide all of it by the number of minutes the workout took to complete. The goal was to keep the total number the same every workout, every week, while changing the variables to get you there.

For example, if you do 2 exercises, 3 sets of each, 10 reps of each set, with 10 pounds in 20 minutes, the total would be 15 (units of intensity). Similarly, if you did 3 exercises for 2 sets of each, and 20 reps with 5 pounds in 20 minutes you would also get 15, but you would have a very different workout.

Take a Break from the Treadmill

Thirty-eight percent of the people in the vitaminwater survey said the treadmill was the most boring part of working out. But who says you need to use the treadmill, anyway? Not only can you skip the gym and just walk/run outside or use the stairs in your office building, you can opt for one of the other cool cardio machines at the gym!

• Cybex Arc Trainer – burns more calories at a given intensity than an elliptical and easier on your knees than most cardio.

• Helix Trainer – Sort of a lateral elliptical … really works the butt and hips.

• Nexersys – this virtual martial arts/boxing instructor can help you release your aggression while torching calories.

• Precor Recumbent cycle – perfect for the times when you’re just not in the mood to workout.

These tips work for you? Tweet me @harleypasternak.

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