How much variety do you really need?

Boredom with workouts will inevitably lead to lack of motivation. Less motivation will most often lead to fewer workouts actually being completed.

 

It’s common sense, but fewer workouts, will lead to fewer results. And fewer results will lead to lack of motivation, less workouts and maybe even giving up.

 

This can be a vicious cycle, where people never truly see the awesome benefits of exercise. In order to recognize the benefits of exercise we have to make exercise a consistent part of our daily routines. Every day, or almost every single day we need to be “exercising.” It’s simple…if we get results…we continue doing something. To get results with anything in life, we need to do this “thing” over and over over and over. We can turn that vicious cycle of “no results” in to BIG results, by simply not giving up, having some grit and exercising every day…even if we don’t want to. You might think you want variety and “fun,” but deep down…you want results.

 

When I meet a new client, the first thing he or she says 100% of the time is… “I want more RESULTS.” I have never met a new client who said they want “more fun workouts.” Having some variety with workouts might be a sub goal, but no one hires a trainer  just for “fun” workouts. People hire a trainer to get RESULTS with how they look and feel. When he or she is committed to making a change it is then my job to give them the right mix of “results” and  some “variety/fun.”

 

Because, we DO need to enjoy our workouts. At least to some degree….

 

When planning workouts for clients I know what is best for them to get the results they want. But, I also take into account the exercises they enjoy more, the workout style that fits them best and definitely what exercises they may hate. I’m a numbers guy so I talk a lot in percentages. I think that if 80-90% of the exercise we do, gets us the results we want, we can fit in 10-20% of exercises that we truly enjoy (even if they don’t give us the results we want). Why? Well results make exercise more enjoyable…even if we don’t “love” the specific exercises we have to do in order get to those results 🙂

 

For example, I have been training a buddy of mine in my online coaching for a year now. He hired me to learn how to lift with no shoulder pain, while also wanting to lose weight, lean out and see his abs. He hired me for RESULTS, knowing there would be many workouts he might not “love” doing, but they simply had to be done in order to see the RESULTS he wanted. Well when the results started rolling in fast (no shoulder pain, down 40lbs, visible abs, stronger than ever, more confident than ever), guess what wasn’t so bad? Yup, those workouts that sucked a year ago 🙂 It’s funny how our mind can accept challenging workouts when we know the results are worth the short term discomfort of a workout. Would he say some of these workouts are “fun?” Probably not. Are the results fun? Hell yes. At the same time though, I fit in workouts like his “Saturday Armaggedon” day where he can work on the fun part of lifting…biceps and triceps. I purposely put the hardest workout of his week on Friday, so he can follow it with his favorite day on Saturday as a reward. “Some fun, more results.”

 

 

Rear Foot Elevated split leg squats. Definitely NOT fun in the moment as you can see from my face. But, this exercise is great for single leg strength, helping me avoid injuries while running. No injuries with running makes running more FUN. See how this works out to be fun in the long run even if these squats aren’t fun in the moment 🙂

 

 

What do you want? Results or “fun” workouts?

 

A discouraging trend I see in the fitness world, is people being sold on “fun” workouts that just get a sweat going. In the short term this is just fine! Any exercise is better than none! Some workouts like this are totally OK. Again, there needs to be some “fun” to make exercise sustainable. But, these workouts that are  just “fun”  do NOT give most people what they truly want….long term changes in their body, health and confidence. This is a long term issue. Why? People are confused why they are working “so hard” yet not getting results! Well, what they don’t realize (and it probably isn’t their fault), is that their “fun” workouts are simply not enough. They are not working as hard as they should be. Changing your body, health and confidence takes more work than “fun” workouts. Changing your body, health and confidence takes doing some workouts that are NOT fun. The “fun” comes with results. It takes time to realize this. Why again? Well results take time to show up. Then we need to have a mindset shift from wanting “fun” workouts to appreciating and embracing the challenge of workouts that actually get us results. Take a second and ask yourself again, why you exercise? Are you doing that bootcamp for “fun” or because you want to lose weight and look leaner? Let’s be real, its more “fun” to have a few drinks or go to a concert than to do a tough workout. I’m a personal trainer and I even think this! So are you reallyyyyy working out for “fun.” Didn’t think so 🙂

 

This mindset shift in WHY we exercise is what leads to long term results. Without this mindset shift you will fall in and out of that vicious cycle of exercising for a few weeks or months, followed by doing nothing for a few months and so on. This cycle leads to frustration, lack of motivation and sometimes despising exercise. If this is you, the chances are high that you are exercising for “fun” and not “results.”  The people you know who never take a day off, who have been active and exercising every single day for YEARS…do NOT work out for “fun.” We all know people like this. Maybe your husband. Maybe your friend. Maybe you think this is person is crazy for “enjoying” exercise so much. Well, I can tell you this…this person does NOT enjoy the discomfort of challenging exercise. This person APPRECIATES that the feeling of discomfort is needed to give them what they truly want….RESULTS. At some point in their life he or she had a mindset shift about exercise. For me, this happened in college while running track. I used to hate training for the sports I played. I just wanted to play the sport. But, in college when I got RESULTS on the track, I appreciated the challenge of workouts that were most definitely NOT fun. The “fun” was standing on the podium AND the confidence that came with knowing I was faster and stronger than ever before. Trust me, I was NOT doing those college track workouts because they were fun 🙂

 

It’s the same thing now. Many of my workouts make me super uncomfortable in the moment. But, I know I need this. I can’t be comfortable or I get lazy. I have to force myself daily to get out of my comfort zone with exercise. It leads to so much more confidence in other areas of my life. My clients over the years who have also figured this out, see the most RESULTS and in a round about way…have more FUN with exercise. 

 

This leads me back to reason for this blog. How much variety do you actually need in workouts? Here are my thoughts and some tips:

  1. 10-20% of your exercises can be “fluff.” This means that these exercises have little to do with getting you the actual results you want. But you enjoy the exercises or the workout! This can be 1-2 exercises to finish a tough workout or 1 day per week that puts all the exercises together you enjoy.
  2. You need to do the same workout more than once to see results. Random workouts every day and week make it tough to track progress and progress is what you need to see in order to make that mindset shift that exercise is WORKING for results. Do the same workout 3-4 times over a 2-4 week period before changing it. You can increase the reps and weight or lower the rest breaks to make the workout more difficult. But, keeping the exercises the same for 3-4 workouts allows you to get better at the movements. Getting more efficient with movements leads to more strength.
  3. There are only a few “movements” that you need to be doing to get results. Under each of these movements there are hundreds and even thousands of exercises to choose from. But, the movements needed for results are: squat, hinge, push, pull, carry, plank, hollow hold. Doing these movements consistently (changing the exercises every 3-4 workouts) will lead to results.
  4. Commit to a certain style of exercise or programming structure for at least 12 weeks. This allows you to truly track progress over time. For example, you could decide you want to work on your glutes. Commit to a training program that focuses on your glutes for at least 12 weeks…maybe longer! But, this means if you pick random workouts off Pinterest, you are getting a sweat going but there is no way to measure long term  progress with your glutes. You could be getting results from these random workouts, but without knowing how to measure this progress you will soon become frustrated wondering why the results aren’t there…when in reality they could be right under your nose.
  5. Once you finish a “commitment” to a certain long term goal, pick another goal to focus on so you can stay on track and keep momentum. Too much “down time” of random workouts can lead to that vicious cycle of sweaty workouts and no results. No one wants that. Make the “tough” workouts mean something.

 

 

Remember, the “fun” you are looking for with exercise is not actually the “fun” you think you want. The “fun” comes with hard work and results. Keep working at it. No giving up. You can’t give up, or you won’t enjoy the FUN 🙂

 

 

Ryan

 

 

 

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