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Diakadi Fitness Tips: Six Ways to Bust Out of Your Rut

By Mike Clausen

Your workouts don't get you sore anymore, it all seems monotonous, and yet you just drudge on, hoping it will change. Face it—you've got the gym blahs. Working out should be a rewarding experience that leaves you feeling great when you're finished. If you feel like the gym is sucking the life right out of you, you shouldn't quit—you should rejuvenate. Here are six things you can do to get out of the rut fast.

1. Take a Week Off
Looking good is a year-round project. If it's not the beach it's the holiday photos, or a party or a wedding or a reunion—there will always be something for which you want to look your best. So, you push yourself into exhaustion thinking that you have to workout every single day. This way of thinking can completely exhaust you emotionally, even as your muscles adapt to the constant routine. You're miserable, and you're not even getting sore anymore. There's no point to working out in this condition; if you are exhausted walking into the gym, your workout will suffer and you'll be wasting time anyway. Try taking a week off. A week is the perfect rest period. It is enough to replenish your spirit and give you a fresh start, but you will not lose so much fitness that you will feel discouraged starting back. Don't worry—this won't derail your program. In fact, it will rejuvenate you so much, you make be able to make big gains when you come back. Give yourself a break.

2. Switch Your Workout Time
It's so hard to establish a routine that once we have one, we don't want to give it up. But if you're in a rut, you might want to think about just changing the time of day you head to the gym. If you normally work out in the morning, then start by going after work. Your energy is different at different times of day; learning to work with that change will give you a new challenge. Plus, you will be working out around different people, giving you new visuals (ahem) and new sources of motivation.

3. Try a New Gym
You love your gym—but it's OK to flirt. Look for specials from other gyms that want your business. You may be able to find a special deal on a week pass. With the different people, equipment, and location, you may find that this is just the change you needed to get you pumped. When you come back to your usual gym, the time away will give you a fresh start. I belong to three different gyms that I rotate either weekly or daily, just to get some change in my routine.

4. Try a New Trainer
I think it's a good idea for clients to get a fresh perspective on training from another qualified individual. Good trainers engage with their clients—but that means that it can be easy to get into a comfortable space, and sometimes the workouts can become more like therapy sessions. When you go into a workout not knowing the trainer, you don't have the normal things to talk about, and you can just focus on your workout. Still, a lot of people worry about "cheating" on their trainer. But if your trainer is good and secure in his/her training practice, he or she should have no problem sending you to someone else for a week, or even a month. It's best to just be honest about this—if you like your trainer and trust his or her knowledge, you should be able to expect him or her to know who would be another good person to work with. Ask for some advice on whom else at the gym you might benefit from, and tell your regular trainer about what you learn.

5. Take a Class
If you're really hitting the weights on a regular basis, you probably don't take class very often. You're plenty busy in the gym as it is. But class is a great way to inject something new into your workouts—and there really is no downside. I promise you, your chest will not deflate if you skip the bench press for one week. Instead of lifting chest on Wednesday night, take that yoga class you've been meaning to attend. Your chest, which is probably tight as it is, will get a completely different workout that will both strengthen and stretch it. This isn't just a nice change—it will also help you to come back stronger when you resume your lifting the next week.

6. Take Your Workout Outside
Why do we force ourselves into the gym on beautiful days? If it's a Saturday, and the last thing you want to do is go into the gym and lift legs, then—don't. Instead, get on a bike and ride for a couple hours. I recently had the benefit of riding bikes in NYC along the Hudson River Parkway—we rode from Midtown into Brooklyn and then all the way back up to the George Washington Bridge. All in all, we rode for six hours and figured it was about 300 blocks. My legs were tight and pumped all day. I got a much better workout than I would have half-assing it in the gym just because I had to get my legs done, and I got to see a lot of great sights. If the weather is poor, or you hate the outdoors, use a gym with a pool to go for a 20 to 30 minute swim. The point is to get out of your comfort zone and make your body move.

About Diakadi Fitness Tips: Diakadi Fitness Tips is a new series of weekly features and interviews with Billy Polson and Mike Clausen, founders of the award-winning Diakadi Body personal training gym and creators of RealJock's 12-week Workout Programs. Have burning questions about your fitness that you want them to answer? Send an email to billyandmike@realjock.com.