Hello handful (or less) of people who actually read my blog! Round 3 of the lovely Miss Tina Reale’s Best Body Bootcamp is upon us, and along with her beautifully composed strength training sessions comes the 2-3 days a week of cardio interval blasts. (Yayyyyy!) C’mon. Be excited. No? Less than enthused? Why??? Wait, I think I know…
While cardio is certainly beneficial and necessary, it can get boring at times. The reason cardio can get boring is because of repetition. Logging miles on the pavement, treadmill, bike, or elliptical can get tiresome…when our brains become disengaged, we become disenchanted quickly. What we need is a way to keep our brains engaged and keep our bodies challenged throughout the cardio routine. Sooooo…Below are my favorite ways to keep myself motivated and challenged when doing cardio!
Case up a new class
What better way to sizzle away a few calories and keep boredom at bay than to try out a new class? Whether its dance, spin, or kickboxing, you are sure to engage your brain as well as your muscles when you take a class. The group atmosphere combined with new music, challenges, and an instructor to lead the way, lends to an engaged brain and an improved cardio experience. Don’t worry about whether or not people are watching you, or whether or not you will know the moves. Everyone has to start somewhere. Talk to the instructor after class about anything you weren’t sure about, and improve your skills! Worst case scenario you’ll be able to say you challenged yourself with something new, and what can be bad about that?
Make it a new machine
Do you always head for the elliptical or treadmill? Do you always set it for the same workout setting and time? Don’t lie. You know you do. No wonder you’re bored. Try out a machine you don’t normally use, such as the Stairmaster or rowing machine. Set your sights on different intervals of intensity and rest than you normally would to quick start your muscles and your mind. You will be at least slightly less bored, I promise.
Rev up a new route or routine
Like trying a new machine, this isn’t rocket science, but if you are strapping on your sneakers or cycling shoes for the same route every time, it can get monotonous. Try mapping out a new route to give yourself some new scenery, hills, and challenges. Try breaking up a run or walk with some intervals of plyometric moves or Tabatas. In fact, take a pause and a sip of coffee. Now caffeine-jump over to Lindsay’s Tuesday Trainer for some plyo and Tabata ideas!
Spark up new songs to your ipod/phone
One of the reasons I enjoy going to new classes, trolling Youtube and PerezHilton, and quizzing friends and bloggers about their favorite songs is because I get inspired working out to new music. I have been known to play the same new song on repeat for an entire workout. (Don’t judge, we all have our own path). But playing new music and mixing up your workout songs is a great way to jazz up (Pun intended. Wait. No it wasn’t, jazz isn’t necessarily the best music to work out to) your cardio routine. Just try to refrain from singing along loudly. You might get socked by the die-hard on the next treadmill over.
Add an audio book
Yeah. The commercials piss me off too. But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! While I wouldn’t recommend something distracting (and terribly written) like Fifty Shades of Grey, you may want to zone out to Game of Thrones, or whatever self-help-fad-diet-Oprah’s-book-club-book-of-the-moment is begging you to be read. Think about it. You whine just as much about how you have no time to sit down and read as you whine about not having time to work out. Go ahead. Kill both birdies with the same stone. You will be able to check two items off your to-do list, and keep you mind busy while your body sweats it out.
Find a friend
Hello again, Captain Obvious. I know this ship has sailed across the colorful pages of every health magazine printed in the free world over the last few decades, but do you ever actually take this sage advice to heart? Grab a friend. Have girl talk. Catch up on life. Grab some froyo afterwards. It will give you the satisfaction of spending time with friends, and keep your brain busy with gossip while you churn out the miles.
Jump and juggle machines
Don’t give your restless mind enough time to process boredom. Try jumping back and forth to different machines at the gym! My favorite combo right now is the 20-20-20: Twenty minutes each on the elliptical, Stairmaster, and rowing. Not only will you work different muscle groups, you will be able to satisfy your brain’s need for change. It’s very gratifying to be able to cross off so many machines in one session. Plus, nobody at the gym will be able to say you were Bogarting a machine, now will they?
This is your opportunity to be creative. And there isn’t an ounce of sewing, painting, or papier mache involved! During your cardio, play little games with yourself. Try making it to the next stoplight as fast as you can before you rest. Try speed intervals on the elliptical every time a Taylor Swift song comes on (you know you have lots, don’t kid yourself). Try adding 30 seconds of plyo moves every time you come to an intersection. Intensify your speed during song choruses, and rest during verses. Do 10 burpees every time a new chapter on your audio book starts. Assign plyo or tabata moves to card decks (I totally stole this from Janetha at Meals and Moves, but I can’t find the link on her blog!) But basically, you assign 1 move to each of the 4 suites of cards. The number of reps correspond to the number on the card (J, Q, K are 10 reps). Then you shuffle the deck, and do the plyo move and reps that correspond to the card you draw. Whatever the case, you’ll lay boredom to rest in the shallow grave in which you also buried your fear of processed sugars.
Split it up
Who said you have to do all your cardio in one sitting? Take a 20 minute walk on your lunch break, then log another 30 minutes after quittin’ time. Do a quick sweat session on the spin bike before class, and then jog to work in the afternoon. Fitting cardio in in small blocks is not only great for busy people, it’s great for bored people. Trust.
This economy is killing me. and my wardrobe. And my expensive appetite. So what do I do? I use my waning bank account balance as motivation for cardio workouts! For every cardio workout I complete, I put a dollar in a jar towards a new pair of gym shoes or article of clothing. Once I have enough, I get to buy it, sans guilt (and maybe even a smaller size!!)
Look, the bottom line is this: Keep your mind engaged. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Be creative with your workouts! Your body and your mind will thank you.