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Falling in Love with Boredom in the Gym
Variety is the spice of life, but spices don't make up 90% of your plate.
When I was a CMO, I felt life was a continuous cycle of quarters. Every three months, we started anew. Held to new goals. A calendar to fill. Mistakes to correct. Progress to celebrate.
No quarter was the same. But, there was a rhythm to it which could be perceived as boring. And yet, I was not bored.
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the repetitive nature of lifting.
There are moments when I feel my gym life gets stale. And I have to ask myself why do I feel this way? Is there really something that needs changing?
Or am I failing to find joy in the repetitive work… that ultimately leads to the win?
Specifically, I wonder if the repetitive nature of lifting holds people back from sticking with it long enough to achieve meaningful results.
Nothing makes me sadder than seeing someone who is trying to make progress towards their fitness or physique goals, but is failing because they don’t understand how progress happens.
Most people want results.
Most flashy workouts you see on Instagram won’t get you there.
Most lifting programs will work.
And most results come from sticking to a program and respecting progressive overload (which my husband calls progressive overlord…).
That’s my point. You can stop reading now, but I hope you continue.
If lifting seems boring… I challenge you to flip the script:
Progression is interesting.
Grinding through something session after session, week after week, month and month… is empowering.
Results are thrilling.
I suppose I can see how it may seem boring.
My average workout has 14-18 working sets. If my average set is 1 minute long… that’s 14 minutes of work and 42 minutes of (palm cooling) rest. For someone who doesn’t “do well relaxing”, it’s a miracle I enjoy this part.
If you are after strength and physique changes, the path is straight-forward.
Pick an exercise or two in each category and progress it over time. Progression comes in many flavors.
Some weeks, my progression is better form.
Some weeks, it’s more weight on the bar.
Some weeks, it’s more reps.
Some weeks, it’s more sets.
Some weeks don't go to plan, but I keep showing up.
Variety is the spice of life
But your plate isn’t 90% spice…
I learned to lift via CrossFit.
The definition of CrossFit is: constantly varied, functional movement, done at high intensity.
For the first 7 years of my adult fitness journey, variation was literally in the name of the game.
People either love or hate CrossFit. I’m in the love camp.
I love CrossFit because it’s where I learned to lift and where I became comfortable in a gym. Not to mention, it’s one of the only sports that has paid women equally from the start.
I can walk into any gym now, and even if I’m the only woman, I’m not intimidated.
Today, I focus my training 90% on getting stronger and bigger (aka toned, aka hourglass figure, aka nice booty). And that involves less spice and more repetitious grind. But I still throw in a spicy “wod” (CrossFit speak for workout of the day) most weeks.
But for certain results–I want to look good, be stronger, gain muscle, develop a bootylicious booty, etc.–pick a program and stick with it.
For how long? 12 weeks is a great place to start.
Transparently, when I choose a goal, I do feel a sense of loss for the other goals I can’t simultaneously work towards, but it’s easy to live with that loss in exchange for the results.
Next week I will share my current 12 week program with notes about why I chose the lifts, sets, and repetitions ranges.
I leave you with a poem.
Repetitive, monotonous Perfecting a movement It’s a rare moment of peace My brain is off / or is it on / it is focused Separate from the work ahead Approach each rep as its own Not looking ahead It will be done when it is done At the end of the day, deep satisfaction awaits Over time, you are transformed