- Go a little faster. Pick up your cardio pace by a quarter-mile per hour, try some plyometric power moves, or incorporate a few intervals or sprints. Your heart and metabolism will take notice, and your muscles will jump to attention.
- Go a little longer. Why settle for a 30-minute workout when 45 is beckoning? Why do that out-and-back run when you can make a whole loop with just a mile or so more? Why lower that weight back down so quickly when a slow negative will net you such excellent gains? And why, oh why, would you speed-bob through your ab work when you know that going slow delivers far better results?
- Seek instability. Wobble cushions and balance boards, one-legged stances, and shifting or uneven terrain all deliver different kinds of proprioceptive challenges. They make things tougher and a whole lot more interesting.
- Pull a switch. You might alter the order of your strength-training exercises, change your cardio venue or exercise at a different time of day. Take a different type of yoga class (bikram, hatha, iyengar), or try a new Pilates instructor. Choose a different program on the treadmill or try an entirely different machine. The whole idea is to challenge yourself with a change.
- Shift your focus. Try cycling your workouts through different themes each week. One week, make it all about physical intensity and power. The next, aim to stay more mentally present as you work out. Pay attention to your breathing and make minute adjustments to your form. Keep adjusting your approach, and you’ll keep fresh results coming.
- Relive your past. Rekindling an old fitness flame can open up new fitness horizons. So ask yourself: What activities did you enjoy as a child? Was there an activity you did with your parents or siblings that you wish you could have explored more? Was there an activity you pursued in school but had to give up for other responsibilities? It may be high time you pick up where you left off.
- Give yourself a break. If you’re burned out on a particular activity, or just worn out from working too hard or too long, take a little time off. Get a massage. Read up on training techniques. Rest your body and rethink your routine. Then come back with a fresh perspective.
This was excerpted from “Fitness Frontiers” which was published in the May 2006 issue of Experience Life.