Wake up, shower, skip breakfast, roll through Starbucks, and order the same coffee you do everyday. After work, hit the gym for your typical circuit on the machines or jog on the treadmill. I get it: You’re a creature of habit. But deep down, you’re not always so predictable, are you? Awaken your inner rogue with these tips to help breathe new life into your stale workout routine.
1. Bodyweight Training
Good news: Now you can leave your free weights and exercise ball buried in the back of your closet for good. Bodyweight training uses the resistance of your own body to build muscle, increase flexibility, and burn fat. Think push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, squats, and if you’re feeling dangerous, hand balancing. This back-to-basics approach to exercise is intuitive, available 24/7 (no excuses), and if done regularly, delivers the coveted beach body.
Nature called — it wants you back. If you’ve been religious about going to the gym, maybe the thing you need the most is some time outside, in the dirt. Researchers believe that regular interaction with dirt strengthens your immune system, one of the innocent bystanders of nature-deficit disorder.You don’t have to go all-in with a mud run to get the benefits, either. Simply move one run a week from the treadmill to a nature trail or substitute a tree branch for the pull-up bar to connect with nature, ward off allergies, and give your joints a break.
3. Wobbly Boards
Indo Boards are wobbly boards that are sold in a variety of lengths, from yoga size to minis. The yoga boards mimic SUP yoga (in your living room), and the minis can be used for basic balancing or tricks.The boards are placed atop cushions, rollers, or rockers and provide an uneven surface, upon which boarders must find their balance. Once you’re able to balance for long periods, add in your favorite yoga moves or free weights for a more intense workout.
Even if the running man or the sprinkler are your go-to moves at wedding receptions, you can still dance your way through this workout. Barre classes, ballet-inspired workouts, are springing up around the U.S., turning bat wings into full-fledged guns. If you’re in the market for a sleek physique but don’t have a class in your neck of the woods, either buy a DVD or learn some basic moves and repeat.
5. Run less
Maybe you’re a marathoner or a die-hard 5Ker, either way, you’ve got the endurance required to put in the mileage. Instead, avoid overtraining and boost your performance by cutting back either on the number of runs you do per week or the distance you run, or both. Three runs per week, when complemented by other exercise, such as CrossFit or swimming, can do the trick. On the days that you run, incorporate high-intensity intervals to get the most out of your roadwork.
If you’re sick of the Zumbites getting all the glory, you might look for a Piloxing class in your area. This blend of Pilates, boxing, and dance is the brainchild of celebrity trainer Viveca Jensen and is said to answer the “bulk is out, lean is in” trend. The website makes the workout seem as empowering as it is demoralizing, physically that is.
7. Join a Club
I’m not talking about bunco or band camp, either. Most areas are chock full of run clubs, stroller fitness clubs, cycling clubs, and kickball leagues, and working out with others not only improves your social game but also keeps you motivated by holding you accountable and giving you the chance to pick up a few tricks from some new friends —plus, it’s safer than training alone.
8. Anti-Gravity Yoga
Like yoga but feel like gravity is holding you back? Try anti-gravity yoga. Participants perform maneuvers while hanging from the ceiling, suspended in a silk hammock. This relieves pressure on your spine and joints, which take a pounding over the course of a day, whether you are active or sit on an office chair in a cubicle. If you didn’t think yoga could loosen up any more, you’re in for a treat.
If your typical gym experience involves wandering around, lying on the weight benches for an extra minute or two, and stalling by the water cooler, maybe you need to pick up the pace. Tabata training is just the thing to put some pep into that workout. More of a method of exercise than any specific type of training, Tabata is also referred to as high-intensity interval training. Whether you prefer working with weights, doing traditional calisthenics, or swinging a kettlebell, Tabata can be applied. It involves performing an exercise at a very high intensity for a short duration, followed by a short break and then another round. If you’re sitting on a workout plateau, Tabata can push you up to the next level.
10. Natural-Movement Exercise
Go paleo, without the meat-heavy diet. Controversial as the whole movement may be, you have to respect some of the basic principles of the lifestyle, when viewed apart from its associated trends and fads — getting outside, interacting with your environment, and focusing on whole-body movements. Climb a tree. Run on the beach. Throw a heavy rock. Jump in a lake and go for a swim (provided you live in an alligator-free state). The exposure to nature, combined with some fun and spontaneity in your workout, just might be habit forming.
No one’s saying you have to ditch your old routine for good, but maybe it’s time to shake it up. A little dirt under your nails or a lotus pose in full dangle, and before you know it, you and your exercise routine have a new swagger. It’s a win-win.
Image Source: Mike Baird/Flickr