5 ways to beat boredom at the gym

If you’re stuck in a boring workout rut or have hit a fitness plateau, it’s time for a change. Try these five tips to help beat boredom at the gym and get more out of every workout

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group push-ups

1. “Superset” your exercises

A superset is best described as two exercises performed back to back with no rest. Supersets are great because they keep your heart rate up during a workout, challenge your body and help you break out of a boring fitness routine. Performing supersets will also decrease the amount of time you need to spend at the gym.

While traditional resistance programs involve resting for 30 seconds to two minutes between sets, in a superset you only rest at the end of the set. This allows you to complete a more challenging workout in less time.

Sample superset:
If you’re new to working out, try to superset an upper-body exercise with a lower-body exercise. For example, do 15 push-ups and then 15 bent-over rows, back to back. Complete three sets. If you’re a more advanced exerciser, superset two exercises for the same muscle group in order to fully exhaust those muscles. For example, do 15 squats followed by 10 squat jumps. Complete three sets.

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Cardio cinema

2. Circuit training with bursts of high-intensity cardio

Circuit training involves performing three or more exercises back to back, without a break. Like supersets, you rest at the end of the circuit. To fully maximize your workout time, you should include both resistance exercises and bursts of intense cardio together in one circuit. This is a great technique to help you burn more calories.

For your cardio bursts, try skipping rope, doing burpies, running up and down on a BOSU, or running on a treadmill for two minutes.

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Not sure how to set up your circuit? Try this one

1. Push-ups on the floor (10-15 reps).
2. Bent-over rows (12-15 reps).
3. Cardio burst: Run up and down on the spot for one minute. Try to lift your knees as high as you can.
4. Squats (10-15 reps).
5. Standing shoulder press (12-15 reps).
6. Cardio burst: burpies for one minute.
7. Lunges (10 reps each leg).
8. Standing bicep curls (12-15 reps).
9. Tricep dips with your hands on a bench (10-15 reps).
10. Cardio burst: jump rope for two minutes (if you don’t have a rope, just imagine that you do and mimic the motion).
11. Rest for one minute and then repeat for a total of three circuits.

Tip: if you have access to a BOSU ball, do your standing exercises on it, dome side up. Standing on the BOSU will challenge your balance and help you engage your core.

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gym spinning

3. Mix up your cardio

Cardio routines can become particularly boring after a while, especially if you just head to the gym and do the same thing every time. When you repeat the same cardio workout over and over again, your body begins to know what to expect and stops responding to the exercise. In other words, your body becomes more efficient. So you’ll use fewer calories to perform that 30-minute elliptical workout today than you did two months ago. To make your cardio workouts more interesting, more intense and more effective, you need to mix up your routine and keep your body guessing. Try working these cardio tips into your weekly workouts:

• Spend 10 minutes on three different machines, back to back. For example, run for 10 minutes, bike for 10 minutes and then get on the stair climber for 10 minutes.

• Alternate skipping and running. Run for 10 minutes and then skip for five. Repeat two to four times.

• Interval train. Alternate one to three minutes of high-intensity cardio with two to five minutes of recovery cardio. Repeat for 20 minutes to one hour.

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woman and man at the gym personal trainer weights

4. Try pyramid sets

Pyramid sets are designed so that the reps and/or weight change with each set. If you always do three sets of 12-15 reps, this will challenge your body and help you push past your workout plateau. A pyramid set can be done in a number of different ways. 

Example A: Pyramid so that your reps decrease and your weight increases. Complete your first set with a weight you can lift for 12-15 reps, your second set with a weight you can lift for eight to 10 reps, and your third set with a weight you can lift for six to eight reps. End with a set of 20 reps with a lighter weight.

Example B: Complete a superset where the reps and weight for one exercise stay constant, but you pyramid the second exercise. Your sets might look something like this:

Set 1: 10 push-ups and 15 overhead tricep extensions.
Set 2: 10 push-ups and10 overhead tricep extensions, with weight increased.
Set 3. 10 push-ups and 8 overhead tricep extensions, with weight increased again.
Set 4. 10 push-ups and 15 overhead tricep extensions, at your original weight.

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5. Remember the number 11

Choose two different exercises and complete them in such a way that the total number of reps always equals 11. A good set of 11s could be done with push-ups and hanging rows, which would look something like this:

• 10 push-ups, one row
• Nine push-ups, two rows
• Eight push-ups, three rows
• Seven push-ups, four rows

And so on, until you reach one push-up, 10 rows.

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