It happens to everyone at some point. You hit a workout rut. It could happen for many reasons like you’ve been doing the same thing for a while, you stop seeing results, or your mind is occupied by something else. Or, it happens before you even really begin getting into a routine. I’m lumping this into the same category because you still need to do something about it. There are some signs you’ve hit a rut with your workout. I’ve gone through all of these at different stages, but there are ways to work your way out of it.
If gyms aren’t open where you are, of if you’re like me and not ready to go into one yet, all of these can be done virtually at home.
Here are some signs you’re in a workout rut and some ways to get out of it.
Sign: You have to do anything else but workout
I’m going to start with the one where you just can’t get going with a routine. You may exercise a day or two here and there but can’t seem to commit to more. Something else always seems more important. If you ever need excuses not to work out, you can come to me. I’ve said them all. I don’t have time; I’m washing my hair, I just ate, my dog needs me (that one never works because I’ve never had a dog!). When I’m in that mindset, I will try anything! Sporadically working out isn’t going to do much for you. It’s better than doing nothing, but you won’t hit your goals or noticeably improve your overall health.
Solution: If you’re competitive, make it a competition. Make a friendly bet with someone about how many times you can work out in one week. Do it for a few months until you’re back into a routine. If you’re not competitive, give yourself a reward, even if it’s just congratulations message. Every time you exercise, reward yourself until you’re in a routine.
Sign: It’s treadmill time!
I’m so guilty of this when I’m not in feeling my workouts. I go straight to the treadmill, and that’s it. But it’s not just the treadmill; it can be any singularly focused routine. It’s not a bad thing, of course, cardio is awesome and part of a comprehensive workout. But, if that’s all you do, you’re not maximizing your workout. There are five essential elements of fitness: cardio, strength, core, balance, and stretching/flexibility; and all are key to maintaining a healthy routine. Of course hopping on the treadmill is a good thing. You get your heart rate up, endorphins going and burn calories. You just might not be seeing or getting the overall benefits you’re looking for, or you need.
Solution: Try doing something like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) instead. At least that way you’re getting an overall body workout. It will give you great cardio with the benefits of aerobic and anaerobic fitness, abdominal fat and body weight loss or maintenance, muscle mass maintenance and blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
Sign: It’s not a race so finishing early isn’t an achievement
Been there done this one too. It’s fine to plan for a couple of shorter workouts once in a while when things come up. But if you’re always quitting too early, something’s not right. It could be boredom, or you’re actually so exhausted from your normal workout, you can’t finish it. If it’s the latter, you may not be eating the proper nutrients or getting enough sleep.
Solution: If boredom is causing you to leave early, change your workout. If it’s because you’re getting tired faster, look at your diet. You need to eat the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Fresh, unprocessed food and lean meats or complex plant proteins will keep your energy up throughout the day. Also eat regularly. Look at how much sleep you’re getting. Typically, adults need eight to ten hours of sleep a night.
If you’re unsure of what to eat or how to get more sleep, I wrote:
Consider working with a registered dietitian or a nutritionist.
Sign: You’re a clock watcher
I feel like I’m in class, raising my hand saying “me” to answer questions because I’ve been in this position too. By constantly checking the time, you’re actually breaking the flow of your exercise. When you’re in your zone, outside things don’t distract you. If you can get distracted, it’s a sign you need to shake up your routine a bit.
Solution: Change your routine. You don’t have completely move away from something you love doing, but use it as a guide to help you find something else you might enjoy. So if you love spin class, try to incorporate another class too instead of doing spin frequently. If you like running, try something that you can do alone like yoga or weights. These are just some ideas to help you mix up your workout.
Sign: Hello progress, where are you?
I’m sure this has happened to many people, not just me. You’re so close to lifting or curling your goal weight but can’t quite get there, or you’re trying to shave a few minutes off of your run time but can’t hit it no matter how hard you try. If you can’t get there, one of the things that might be happening, is you’re in a rut. Something is holding you back from your results, and you need to make a change to get there.
Solution: Make sure your goals are realistic. It’s great to set stretch goals, but if after some time you find it’s not possible, you probably need to revisit them. For example, decrease your run goal by ten minutes to start, or knock some pounds off of your target curl or lift weight. Once you reach that goal, you’ll be motivated to tackle the next challenge. Another reason could be the way you’re training. You may need to do other things to help get to your goal. For example, if you’re trying to curl a specific weight you can’t hit, maybe you need to strengthen some of the secondary muscles used to help you get it.
One other thing I can suggest is that a personal trainer and/or healthcare professional can help you meet your goals and get out of a rut.
Do you have any suggestions to help get out of a rut?