Doing the same workouts over and over is boring. It is difficult to stay consistent with exercise if it is boring. I am always looking for different ways to exercise and mix things up.I have a spin bike that I enjoy. But sometimes I just can’t handle even the thought of sitting on it for even a few minutes. I need to something different. I need to move while actually moving (but I also live in Canada where we freeze are assess off for half the year so going outside is not always the best option). I want to stand while I exercise but sometimes I also want to do something low impact. I can’t skip and do plyometrics all the time. I have a lot of good home workout DVDs too that I enjoy. But sometimes they aren’t want I feel like doing either. So I have been spending lots of time on youtube looking for new full length workouts that I can follow.
I use to teach fitness classes myself so I have standards that must be met by the workout videos I use. Basically the instructor needs to be trained and certified to teach fitness classes (it really shows when they are not). They need to use proper canned workout music and design balanced workouts. I have lost track of how many workouts I have discovered where the instructor knows how to work the crap out of the chest and triceps (and maybe shoulders) but then mostly forgets about the back.
One favorite You Tube channel I have found and am really going to often for workouts is JessicaSmithtv. Jessica has a nice assortment of workouts of varying lengths ranging from indoor walking/jogging, kickboxing, HIIT, strength training, mat based yoga/pilates workouts, barre workouts, and flow/fusion workouts. There is a lot to choose from. And if you would like to have a specific schedule of what to do and when, Jessica even posts a weekly workout schedule featuring a healthy blend of workouts selected from her video library. A new workout is posted every week.
And lastly there is the adorable Peanut napping hard on the yoga mat in the corner (showing what not to do during the workout). Gotta love Peanut.
I go to my gym to primarily lift weights. I like the gym because it has much heavier weights and more varieties of equipment than my small home set up. I tend to do my cardio at home either on my spin bike or in the living room in the form of aerobics/kickboxing or tabata protocols. To mix things up sometimes I will do tabata style sprints on the treadmill at the gym.
So I was at the gym the other day and had just done a good full-body strength session and was feeling good so I decided I could handle one tabata worth of sprints on the treadmill to finish up. So I hop on and get my gymboss all set while at an easy walk to begin with. At this point the lady on the treadmill next to me was pretty much ignoring my existence doing her own thing. (Which is totally fine. I like to focus on my workouts too. I don’t require a hello and good-bye from every person I happen to walk by at the gym.) Then I start my timer and begin increasing the speed. I start my first sprint and when the timer goes off I end my sprint (any sprinters out there know how that works). The lady next to me sniggers and gives me a look I would describe as derisive. I was a bit confused. What was this lady’s problem? On my next sprint and rest she was still giving me the sideways look. Did she think I was trying to run continously on the treadmill and failing at it? I was starting to get angry with this lady for being so rude.
On my next rest period I took a quick peak at the stats on her treadmill. They indicated she was doing long steady state cardio at a low/moderate intensity. So it occurred to me that maybe this women was not aware of the HIIT style of training. There is a lot of dated information pertaining to exercise and fitness that is still being peddled around out there and a lot of this dated information is marketed specifically to women (or rather the people society expects women to be) like the myth that women shouldn’t lift heavy and shit like that. After I recovered from my tabata I opened up a conversation with the lady and explained what I was doing and pointed out some of the benefits of HIIT training. I was right, she really had had no idea what I was doing. She expressed some interest in what I was saying and seemed to like the idea of swapping the long duration low/moderate intensity workout for the short duration high intensity workout. I told myself it was good thing that I turned this into a learning opportunity rather than a bitchfest between two strangers at the gym. It was a happy ending in that regard except . . . .
. . .all I really truly wanted to do in response to the rude ignorant cardo bunny was to tell her to go fuck herself and stomp off.
I have sister who likes to cross-stitch. She cross-stiches circles around me. She completed multiple cross-stitch projects while I have completed 1.75 projects. She is always sending me pictures of adorable patterns she wants to try next. She then points out that she already has far more patterns than even she can ever finish. But that doesn’t stop her. Eventually she always buys another pattern.
I am the same way, just not with cross-titch. I do it with workouts. I have so many workouts designed I can’t possibly do them all. Even when I get through one training cycle I have already designed 2 or three more while I was completing it. And I like many types of workouts, so I have piles of 12min or shorter HIIT workouts, I have various types of strength training routines for at home workouts or at the gym workouts. I have workouts focused on overall strength, overall endurance, maintenance, even cardio/strength splits and any other cardo/strength splits I could possibly want or feel like doing. Sometimes I find myself trying to schedule things to I can pack in more workouts just to “get them all done” despite the fact that I know it is too much and I will therefore only end up doing half or so. My brain trys to over ride my good sense that tells me I need “x” amount of rest between each workout and “x” workout will leave me tired so HIIT after is not going to happen. I know these things, but designing the workouts are so enjoyable I get this feeling of “GO GO GO!” that results in delusions of workout grandeur.
Why do I bring this up? Because I noticed that this “GO GO GO” feeling and desire to do more sometimes leaves me doing more than I am ready for in my workouts or just trying to do too many workouts. The result of this is I am too tired and have to modify the original over zealous schedule to something more realistic. I then feel like I wussed out or wasn’t disciplined enough because I failed to stick with the schedule. After I go through this cycle I come out of it and remind myself that it is all ridiculous. If I didn’t keep up with the tough schedule it was because it was tough and I scheduled too much in too short of a time. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with me or that I am lazy or lack self discipline, I just have eyes that are bigger than my muscles when it comes to designing my workouts. Which isn’t always a bad thing. I designed a 12min HIIT workout that had me dying on the floor by minute 5 the first time I tried it. I struggled to keep going. I then designed modified versions that I did instead. Six weeks later I went back to the original killer workout and was able to do it. It was hard of course, but I finished it and was able to push hard all the way through without taking extra rest time. In this case my overzealous workout design served as a great way to demonstrate to myself the effectiveness of the workouts I designed in terms of making me stronger and able to recover faster. Also HIIT workouts remind of the truth of the saying “less is more” as it pertains to fitness.
When designing my strength workouts I found I had started just adding more exercises or more training days or a different body part split to make things harder. This of course made for both long and frequent workouts. The result of longer workouts with more exercises was that I would have to judge my weight choices wisely so that I could still finish the whole workout. The result is that my weight and therefore strength increases were small and long in coming. So beginning this month I have designed a whole new set of workouts (surprise!) based around the idea of “less is more”. I am focusing on the base compound moves: squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, pushups, pullups (no I can’t do an unassisted pullup yet, but I am working on it), rows and over head presses. I am not spending time on little isolation exercises for the time being. I am just going back to basics and relying on the quality of a few exercises done with heavy weight rather than the quantity of various exercises to help me increase my strength.