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Step Out of Your Workout Rut

Which Culprit is to Blame for your Fading Energy?

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It sneaks in slowly. You might not notice it at first, but pretty soon, its presence is undeniable. It’s all around, and it’s affecting your actions. Your workouts are going nowhere. Sooner or later, this happens to everyone.

When you’re stuck in a rut and no longer seeing progress, it’s important to figure out how to get out of the slump and back on track. When your progress begins to slow, re-evaluate your plan, and then start back at it. Read on to learn which culprit is to blame for your fading energy, and what you can do to give it a boost.

Culprit #1: Boredom
If you’re doing the same exact thing every time you work out, your body will become conditioned to the exercise. Pretty soon, the challenge is gone, and you’ve stopped improving and seeing visible results. But how does this happen—even when you’re being consistent?

Say you’re doing bicep curls several times a week with the same weight and the same number of reps. It used to be hard, but after awhile, you can do it with ease. Instead of basking in the effortlessness of the workout, bump it up! Increase the frequency and intensity of the activity, and you’ll start to see more progress. Shock your body into making changes.

Another way to avoid boredom is to spice up your fitness routine. A good exercise program doesn’t have to include an hour at the gym each day. For a new challenge, try hiking, riding a bike, playing tennis, or doing yoga. Even an hour playing outside with your kids will burn calories. Keep things interesting to keep the boredom at bay. You also might try hooking up with a "fitness buddy" to keep things entertaining. A pal can keep you motivated and challenge you to push your body.

Culprit #2: Overtraining
While some people need to increase their gym time, there comes a point when you might be working your body too hard. If you’re going to the gym on a regular basis, you’re creating a healthy, lifelong habit. But if you are going to the gym for hours each day, you might be tearing your body down too much. Muscles need recovery time to build back up. Overtraining affects the body as well at the mind. You’re probably pretty drained if your life is starting to revolve around the gym every day. The cure? Take a couple of steps back. This might mean cutting back on your workouts, or taking a week off to replenish your body and mind. After you’ve rested and recovered, come back to your workouts slowly, paying close attention to how your body responds.
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About The Author

Liz Noelcke Liz Noelcke
Liz is a journalist who often writes about health and fitness topics.

Member Comments

  • Thank you. I try to switch up my exercise. So I can keep it up. - 6/3/2013 3:49:24 PM
  • I totally understand this article. I employed the "bored" technique. When I started working out I did the 10min thing and then QUICKLY got bored and tried some other videos and they just didn't work for me. I had to find the videos that "clicked" for "ME", and once I did I was on a roll. I haven't stopped, I keep growing and increasing my routines. - 12/19/2012 10:41:38 AM
  • This is a very helpful article.
    It helped me pretty much.
    Thank you! - 5/7/2011 5:31:54 PM
  • Variety and making it fun, especially during the winter months is the key. Thanks for including Sleep and Stress. Those two make a huge difference. I notice last year (2010!!!) that during the summer I am much more relax and I sleep better. No school (I have kids) and I am not teaching (I teach university level)... I ran a 13.1 Mile in Sept and was determined to keep up with a training schedule but by November, I felt exhausted: too much workload, not enough sleep.
    DRB13_1: try the Official Spark Sleep Challenge... That is a nice way to reach that goal, you learn a few things along the way (I did) and you get a nice trophy once you are done!!! :-) In the new year, depending on how I manage, I might also sign up for the Stress Challenge... - 1/26/2011 8:00:45 AM
  • The article didn't mention anything about eating too little. I have been doing Insanity, and have been trying to keep my calorie intake what it was before when I did far less intense workouts, eating my BMR and letting the calories burned during exercise be my deficit. However, I'm having a hard time even meeting my BMR, so I am tired all the time, even though I eat to satiety every time I'm hungry, healthy, unprocessed foods. But I'm really working to up my calorie intake so I can feel better. I think my lack of calories is hurting my weight loss. I don't feel my metabolism is lowering, because I do eat constantly and on schedule, and keep pushing water, but I'm eating high bulk, low calorie foods. - 1/25/2011 6:02:10 PM
  • I really appreciated this article! It is important to recognize that more is not always better. People think that just by pushing lthemselves longer, harder, they can continue to lose weight at a certain rate that does not listen to the body's signals or needs. I am guilty of not getting enough sleep. Thanks to SP, I am working on balancing my entire fitness/wellness regime.
    Keep up the good work, bring us more articles like this one! - 8/30/2010 2:51:18 PM
  • 50PLUSBABY
    Thanks for the article although I am reading it years after it was written, it still is good advice. I try to change up my workout, my problem is sleep. I have to work on the 7-8 hrs of sleep. - 5/19/2010 1:53:57 PM
  • This was a good article. I'm not yet in a rut but I can see how I could easily get there. I try to mix my exercise up during the week so I don't get bored and my body isn't conditioned to just doing one thing all the time. Thanks for the tips. - 2/15/2010 5:30:56 PM
  • Good article...I needed this today. I am trying out my dusty Pilates DVD for the first time in 5 years...need a break from the treadmill and let my body recover. - 1/16/2010 2:37:15 PM
  • CATHEITE
    What a great article, Liz. Thank you! At times, I think I may have entered into the realm of overtraining. Sometimes, it's hard to pull back mentally. I also appreciate your advice about adequate sleep. - 9/8/2009 10:28:33 PM
  • WISTFULVISTA
    CHOCOLATE, look into yellow fruits and veggies, and Google "lutein." It's found in these foods, and I know some retinal specialists who even prescribe it as supplements to guard against macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration can be a cause of blindness as we get older; my late mom suffered from it. Use good sunglasses to block harmful rays, which can cause cataracts over time, too. I love Jack LaLanne and am sorry to hear he's having vision trouble. - 8/8/2009 11:46:40 AM
  • Jack has been my exercise "GURU" since I was a little girl. I also credit him for helping me deal with MIGRAINE HEADACHES which I haven't had since I was in my 20's (I'm 61 now). HE IS AWESOME and has helped millions of people, I'm sure. WHAT A FABULOUS EXAMPLE OF A PERSON LIVING A FULL, SUCCESSFUL LIFE OF FITNESS!!!!! - 7/16/2009 5:07:07 PM
  • Thanks so much for this article. I have been so busy watching my "p's & q's" with my diet and exercising, that I'm almost afraid to slow down for fear I'll stop. This helps me realize that good health also takes into account your mind. So I will work on the "spicing it up" with change and also get more rest. - 3/25/2009 11:10:40 AM
  • CHOCOLATE1001
    Jacl lalane is in great shape except his eyesight is going. What can you start taking to keep your eyesight. I don't want to live to 100 if i am blind. My sight is everything to me. Any suggestions? - 3/25/2009 6:51:37 AM
  • Liz, I loved the article. I'm about to finish my second month using SP. I'm not yet in a rut but I can sense that many of your issue will soon apply to me. The timing of your article is perfect. I will complete my self challenges for this month and spend time creating completely different challenges next month. I feel better just knowing that I won't be continuing the same strength and Cardio. Thanks.

    Ken - 3/7/2009 9:16:28 AM
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