Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Does boredom matter in workouts?



Change it up. Keep it interesting. Confuse the muscles. Keep from adapting.

Generally when these lines come out, they are signalling one thing:

We don't want to face boredom.

Not that the workout needs to change. Not that we aren't getting results. But that the short-term pleasure of trying something novel has outweighed our willingness to put in consistent work to a goal.

Your brain may get bored. Your enthusiasm to do an exercise or a program may wane. But your body - the physical you - keeps on adapting as long as there is more stimulus and more room for adaptation to that stimulus.

What if you couldn't change exercises? You had to do a squat-centered workout on Monday, pressing on Wednesday, and pulling on Friday, and that's that. Always the same exercises - squat, bench press, dumbbell row. No changes for six months.

Could you tough it out, up the weights, and get strong? Up the reps and get more endurance? Put the time and effort in and lean out as you clean up your diet?

Yes.

Does it matter if you get bored?

No.

As long as you can tolerate the boredom and focus on the work you put in, you can get results.

No changes necessary.

Runners know this - they put in miles, more miles, and more miles again. They may vary the speed, the incline, the course - but it's still running. The scenery changes but the workout stimulus is coming from the same source.

The truth is that we don't need to change as often as we do. We just need to learn to accept that the novelty wears off but the results from our work needn't.

Learning to tolerate boredom and focusing on the task at hand is a useful skill. It will let you get progress when others are swapping things up just to swap them up. It will let you grind down a large task into a small task over time, and pile small results in a large overall change. Recognize that when the results are still coming you should keep going. Don't veer off a path to success because of boredom.

Does this mean you never change?

Not at all.

Throwing challenges in, put in some competition, changing elements of your program (or switching to a new one when gains taper off) - these are all useful tools. What do they have in common? They are results-driven. They're all about pushing you to work more. They may stave off boredom they make the minimum change necessary to do so.

It's easier to get excited and enthusiastic when there are constant changes - it's one of the appeals of deliberately varied workout approaches. But they aren't necessary to succeed. Find ways to make what is working now seem more interesting and keep at it.

Tell yourself, I am not a person who gets bored with something that works. I am a person who gets bored with failure.

It's the fighter who never tires of working on his or her jab that will have the best jab. Not the one who changes stimuli whenever it gets boring to throw jabs.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.” - Bruce Lee

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