Every once in a while, I have absolutely zero desire to workout. Like we’re talking, the excitement equivalent of the soul-crushing realization you just ran out of coffee and all you have is decaf.
And that is great! Not the coffee thing, nobody ever wins there. The no desire to workout thing and here’s why.
My experience exercising for the last few decades (yep, I remember when “filmed before a live studio audience” was totally a thing) has taught me we get bored with muscular monotony and very often a rigidly structured multi-week workout routine is the source. We have to switch things up to keep mentally engaged because variety is the spice of life in and out of the gym.
I’m not talking program hopping and doing new workouts every time you exercise. What I’m getting at is a well-timed week or two of variety that has absolutely nothing to do with your current program. Something to reengage you in a multi-week training routine that might be grinding down your mind as well as your muscles.
Sometimes you just have to stop working out and simply start moving.
I’m lucky on this front because I live with two people ages five and eight who have absolutely mastered the art of workout variety: they call it to play. It is one of the absolute best ways to make sure exercise is something you look forward to.
For me, it isn’t uncommon for a game of tag to breakout clearing my caloric cobb webs. Sometimes it can be something as simple as rolling around on the floor holding the kids or putting them on my back and crawling around.
You want oxygen molecules touching your obliques to cause agonizing muscular discomfort the next day? Hold your kids and do fundamental rolling or crawling patterns. Basics, they get the job done. Don’t throw away your shot to get more fit.
When this freestyle fitness happens, I get to try new ways to move. I get to create new workouts. I get to try new movements. Most importantly, I get to play.
It always leads to me getting out a piece of equipment I’ve haven’t used in forever and discovering how many new ways I can use it. I get to be creative, I get to breathe new life into old workouts and I get to learn new ways to be sore. While sore isn’t more when it comes to getting fitness results, it lets me know I’m on the right track because I’ve challenged my muscles in a new way.
I start playing with things like how can I use isometrics and an exercise band? Is there a way to make using suspension training more fun by incorporating a kettlebell?
What about combining this superset rep count with that recovery timing scheme? What kind of compound movements would be “super fun” isometrics?
Once you hit this point, you’ll find your mind recharged, your workouts refreshed and your creativity back online. The people I “help exercise,” as my kiddos put it, also benefit because the new movements I discover lead to more variety in their workouts.
Truth be told, sometimes they aren’t all that excited by my caloric creations. Weird, right?
After a week of play, I’ve got the boredom out of my system and I’m ready to get back to the program I was on.
Here are three exercises I used recently to help cure about having no desire to exercise-itis (yep, totally a thing). They are total body core movements that will challenge you in some pretty creative ways while not even having to move. I essentially thought, what muscles does this movement use, and how can I use isometrics to turn them on even more?
Here’s what I came up with. To make these more challenging, all you have do is change an angle.
Suspension Single Leg Squat
Start in a standing position with hands-on your bars. Pick one foot up off the ground bending the knee to a 90-degree angle on the “kickstand” side and hold yourself in a “plank/static hold position.”
Do it right, and you will be very much aware of the glutes. You are also generating a ton of time under tension. This is the key to getting stronger and building joint stability.
Single Arm Suspension Row Plank
This back exercise diagonally loads your body as one hip stabilizes the opposite shoulder to produce force, or, the way we are engineered to move. Playing with different foot positions (split stance, offset, narrow base, wider base, etc) can also connect the two haves of your body in our natural movement patterns that are super fun to try.
If you want to light up your obliques, glutes, and lats, this will very much do the trick. This looks incredibly simple, but it is definitely anything but easy.
Single Leg Standing Isometric Wall Side Foot Push
1) Standing on one leg, push a foot into a wall out to the side.
2) The push foot should be about 2-3″ off the ground.
3) As you push, the kickstand foot should push out slightly causing you to “spread the floor” with your feet.
4) You should feel both glutes activate. Particularly the outer glutes on the kickstand leg.
5) Grab the ground with the kickstand foot big toe as firmly as you can while you drive the foot into the wall.
If you are ready to give your old workout some new life, the solution is pretty simple. Find a simple push, a basic pull, and a fundamental lower body, turn it into something isometric and try some of these “moves.”
The good news is you don’t have to move to do these. The better news is you get to turn on a long list of muscles in a very short amount of time.
While your muscles may not like that you did these exercises, your recharged brain will be glad you did!