Too often people tell me they stopped training out of boredom -- they got so sick of three sets of 15 repetitions or the same old cardio workout that they could no longer force themselves to get to the gym.
This is especially true at this time of year. Don't be that person who starts training January 1 only to quit after a few weeks! Don't let your well-intentioned New Year's health vim and vigour become a faint memory!
Mix up your routine so you don't get bored. Of course you will quit training if you find it boring -- disliking something is a huge disincentive.
Working out can and SHOULD be fun (or at least not tedious). One of the reasons I love both my job and my own personal workouts is that training has limitless possibilities. There are always new ways to mix things up, new ways to "torture" and challenge my clients, new milestones to hit, new exercises to try and new ways to make training fun.
Instead of letting yourself get bored, experiment and try different workouts. Try Pilates, take a dance class, join a sports team or try AMRAP training.
What is AMRAP?
AMRAP stands for "as many rounds as possible." AMRAP is an example of time-based training. With AMRAP, you aim to fit in as many cycles of a circuit as possible within a set time frame. The faster you get through the reps of each exercise, the more times you will complete the entire circuit in the given timeframe.
AMPRAP workouts are effective and efficient workouts because they burn lots of calories in a short amount of time, plus they provide a higher EPOC, which is the amount of calories you burn after the workout is over.
I encourage my clients to try them because they can be done using a wide range of equipment. If you are at home, do bodyweight exercises like squats and burpies. If you are at the gym, use the barbell, Bosu or cable machines.
Sample 10-minute AMRAP
Time yourself for 10 minutes -- do as many rounds as you can of 10 push-ups, 10 lunges on each leg, 12 bent-over rows and 10 squats. Record how many rounds you get through. Gradually work to increase the number of rounds you can complete in 10 minutes.
A word of caution: only include exercises in your AMRAP that you can do with perfect form. If you can't do squats well, try lunges. If you can't do full push-ups, try modified push-ups from your knees. No injuries allowed!
Push-ups: Place your hands on the floor or on the arm of the sofa, feet on the ground. Make sure your bum and core are engaged. Your lower back shouldn't be arched or rounded. Lower yourself down and then away from the ground using your arms.
Lunges: Start standing, both feet facing forward. Step your right leg back. Bend both knees so that your body lowers toward the floor. Don't let your front knee go forward over your front toes -- keep your front heel on the ground. At the bottom, engage the left bum muscle to push yourself up to standing.
Bent-over rows: Start standing holding a free weight (or cable) in each hand, knees slightly bent, back flat, and chest out. Hinge forward at your hips. Don't round through your back as you bend -- the pivot point is your hips.
Hold this position in your back as your row your elbows up toward the ceiling. Try not to initiate the lift from your arms. Make sure to think about using your upper back to do the work -- think about cracking a walnut between your shoulder blades.
Squats: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider) and parallel. Bend at your ankles, knees, and hips to sit your bum backward, like you are sitting in a chair. At the bottom, engage your bum and core to push yourself up to standing.
Don't just plunk down. Control your body on the way down -- imagine someone is pushing you down and you are resisting the push.
Another AMRAP workout is called "work/rest." Decide on a time frame -- let's say two minutes -- then pick three to four exercises that you can complete in roughly one and a half minutes.
The workout looks like this: You have two minutes to complete the four exercises. If you complete them in a minute and a half you get 30 seconds rest. If you complete them in a minute and 45 seconds you get 15 seconds rest. Do five to six sets through. By the end it should be a challenge to fit the exercises into the two-minute time frame.
The main takeaway is to make your end goal to be active for life. Set yourself up for lifelong success. Experiment until you find an activity that you love. One week try spin class. The next week try running. Don't become married to one activity: mix things up. The world is your fitness oyster; never let yourself get bored.
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Circuit training is simply a workout based around a set number of "stations" that you repeat until your time runs out. So knowing how much time you have can help you determine how many circuits you'll need to complete and how hard you'll need to work. (The shorter the workout, the harder you should be pushing!) Anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes is ideal. Example: Five stations of one minute each repeated for six circuits adds up to a 30-minute workout. More from Shape.com: Barefoot Running: Revolution or Fad? 12 Fitness Trends to Watch in 2012 7 Gym Exercises and Machines to Skip
The trick with circuit training is to use whatever you have handy. If you're at the gym, you have a wide range of options, but all you really need is your body. You can choose a different upper-body move each time through the circuit or simply repeat the same exercise every time if you want to keep things simple. Example: Circuit 1: Shoulder presses Circuit 2: Bent-over rows Circuit 3: Standing dumbbell curls Circuit 4: Triceps dips Circuit 5: Pushups Circuit 6: Russian ab twists Flickr photo by sportsandsocial
Just like you did with the upper body, choose exercises that will work each part of your lower body. You can change up the moves each time through the circuit or keep them the same. Example: Circuit 1: Walking lunges Circuit 2: Sumo squats Circuit 3: Calf raises Circuit 4: Hamstring curls on a Swiss ball Circuit 5: Deadlifts Circuit 6: Supermans
Weight training is an excellent workout, but you'll really get your heart rate up by adding in some total-body movements. Example: Circuit 1: Jumping lunges Circuit 2: Mountain climbers Circuit 3: Thrusters (squat to shoulder press) Circuit 4: Cleans Circuit 5: Bench hop-overs Circuit 6: Single-arm swing Flickr photo by The National Guard
Research shows that short, fast sprints are the most effective way to torch fat -- especially around your midsection. Pick any type of cardio you like and go all out for one minute. Example: Circuit 1: Running Circuit 2: Jumping rope Circuit 3: Rowing Circuit 4: Cycling Circuit 5: Up-hill jogging Circuit 6: Stair climbing Flickr photo by Andrew Malone
You've earned it! Let your heart rate come down and then go back through the circuit as many times as you'd like! Example: Get a drink and make sure your music is all set for the next round. We don't recommend collapsing in a sweaty heap on the gym floor; we care too much to let you roll in grime. More from Shape.com: Barefoot Running: Revolution or Fad? 12 Fitness Trends to Watch in 2012 7 Gym Exercises and Machines to Skip
Follow Kathleen Trotter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KTrotterFitness