A workout rut happens to most people at one time or another. You might have been working out for a while and now feel like you're not getting results. You're not making gains - you're stuck at your current fitness level. Or it could be that you've plateaued or want to break up with your workout schedule because it feels too repetitive. However, exercise does too many positive things for your mental and physical health to abandon your sweat sessions. It's better to figure out why you're in a workout rut, so you can get out of it. Here are 7 reasons you're in a workout rut that might surprise you.
Overcoming the Plateau: Strategies for Getting Back on Track with Your Fitness Goals
You're Pushing Too Hard
It's one thing to be dedicated; it's another to always work yourself to exhaustion. Getting fit is about balance, so that you don't mentally or physically stress yourself out and lose your motivation. If you exercise intensely during one session, lighten up on the next workout so your body recovers. A more serious type of exercise burnout is overtraining, where the stress of exercise training and inadequate recovery accumulates and causes physical and mental issues, including lack of motivation to exercise. Don't let it come to that. Balance strenuous workouts with easier ones, and build in recovery time.
You're Not Pushing Hard Enough
At the other extreme, taking a lackadaisical approach to working out and never challenging yourself can also land you in an exercise rut. Exercise should be challenging and stimulating enough to fire up your muscles and your brain, but not so intense that every workout exhausts you. It's important to feel challenged when you train, not bored.
You're Not Feeling the Energy
If you feel exhausted when it's time to workout, it's less likely you'll want to do it. Exercise requires a certain amount of energy expenditure, and if you're physically fatigued, you'll have a hard time mustering up the motivation to slog through a workout. Energy ebbs and flows from day to day, but if you consistently can't get up the gumption to work out, scrutinize your lifestyle habits. Are you getting enough sleep and eating enough nutrient-rich foods? If you're restricting calories or eating high-sugar junk food, that may explain the blah feeling you have toward working out.
Mental stress or worry can also reduce your desire to move your body. Get to the root of the stress problem and find ways to manage it. Write in a journal daily and make sure you have ways to manage stress, like meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises.
If your life is up to snuff and you're still exhausted, consult your doctor. You could have iron deficiency anemia, an underactive thyroid, diabetes, or another health condition, making you feel weary. If you exercise in a balanced manner, working out can boost your energy level and improve your mental and physical health.
You Don't Have the Right Workout Environment
The environment you exercise in can impact your motivation and whether you feel in an exercise rut. If you work out at home, make sure the temperature of your workout area is comfortable and there's good air flow. Having enough light can make a difference too. Who wants to work out in a stuffy, dimly lit room? How about playing some motivating music in the background? Also, a room that's too small can make you feel claustrophobic and less motivated. You could even take your workout outdoors on a day when the weather is favorable. Sometimes changing your location can give you a fresh perspective and renewed motivation.
You're Exercising at the Wrong Time of Day
Do you work out later in the day or as soon as you wake up? Some people enjoy exercising as soon as they jump out of bed, while others prefer to be up and around for a while or fit in a workout after work. If you're trying to work out at a time that doesn't work for you, exercise will feel inconvenient, and you may not have the motivation to do it. You're stuck in a rut, and it's because you're not exercising when it feels right to you. Try switching the time and see if you feel more inspired to work out. What works for you may not for someone else.
You're Not Setting Goals
Your workouts will feel aimless unless you set goals. It's not enough to show up and do whatever strikes your fancy. Make sure you know what you're trying to achieve, and have a plan to do it. Once you have a plan, keep a fitness journal daily so you can track your progress. Knowing where you're going and how far you've come is a strong impetus to keep going and excited about your fitness future.
Boredom is one of the main reasons people get in an exercise rut, and it's usually because they never vary their workouts. Alternate your exercise sessions. Strength train one day and do an aerobic workout the next. Cycle back and forth. If you work with dumbbells during one strength-training session, switch to resistance bands, barbells, kettle bells, or body weight exercises the next. Instead of the treadmill, try a run or walk outdoors. Keep it interesting!
The Bottom Line
Keeping your workouts balanced and enjoyable with some variety is the key to breaking out of a workout rut. Work on your mindset too. Focus on keeping a positive self-image and on the positive benefits you're getting from your workouts.
"Overtraining: Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For." .webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-to-know-about-overtraining.
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Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise routine. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.