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Paige Waehner

Challenge of the Week: Break All Your Rules

By January 8, 2013

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Most of us are pretty comfy in our workout routines and, if you're like me, you don't usually make much of an effort to change things up unless you absolutely have to. For example, over the holidays, I forgot to bring my heart rate monitor on my travels and, as a result, I had to workout without knowing my specific heart rate. This was, of course, a complete disaster.

However, after a couple of days I decided it was kind of nice not glancing at my watch every few minutes to ponder whether I was working hard enough. Without it, I actually had to pay attention to how I felt. It was a relatively small thing, but it made my old, tired workouts seem new and different. I remembered what it was like to just...exercise.

If you could use a little rejuvenation, I'd like you to challenge yourself in some way this week. It doesn't have to be a major change - Even something small, like taking a different route to the gym or starting with a different exercise, can breathe new life into your workouts. Other ideas:

  • Ditch your Heart Rate Monitor: If you're as emotionally attached to tracking your heart rate as I am, this is a tough one, but it's well worth it. For one workout or for an entire week of workouts, leave your heart rate monitor behind and see what it's like to exercise without it. Are you more focused? Do you exercise based more on how you feel than what you think your heart rate should be?
  • Ditch your iPod/TV/Magazine/Etc.: Most of us would probably feel lost without our favorite distraction but, for at least one workout this week (more, if you can), try it without your music, favorite reading material or television. What happens when you don't have that distraction? Does it change how your workouts feel? If you didn't have that distraction, how would your workouts change?
  • Create a Feel Good Workout: For one workout this week, create a feel-good routine. That means every exercise or activity has to feel good to you. If working hard feels good to you, that may mean high intensity exercises. If stretching feels good to you, maybe that's your entire workout. Spend some time thinking about what feels good and do it.
  • Create a Home Circuit Challenge: For those of you with exercise gear at home, get out all your equipment, even the stuff you haven't used in years. Set it all out and create stations for each one. Choose an exercise with each piece of equipment and do it for 30-60 seconds before going onto the next 'station.' Finish with each station and go back and repeat it or come up with a series of new exercises. For example, a circuit in my home gym might include these exercises: BOSU Figure 8s, jumping rope, side step ups, squat curl presses with dumbbells, kettlebell swings, medicine ball crunches and side step squats with resistance bands. What could you come up with?

Leave a comment and tell us what challenge you're taking this week and how it all works out for you.

January 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm
(1) The Gray Adder says:

Not having my iPod makes running on cardio machines a nearly unbearable slog. It is the only way I can coax any amount of motivation out of myself, and without it, I would have given up by now and accepted the fact that I am overweight and will probably stay that way. I have a question for you, what should I be doing, if not listening to music, while on the elliptical for half an hour? Watching Fox News (my BP is elevated enough, thanks) on closed-caption? Contemplating the meaning of the universe? Thinking about work? It’s hard enough to get to the gym already.

January 14, 2013 at 5:55 pm
(2) Brewer says:

I think the home circuit is a great idea but I could never work out without music

January 14, 2013 at 9:06 pm
(3) Andy says:

I am completely in disagreement with this article.
I have been doing a 60min step machine 5-6 times a week for the past year and a bit and you know what I do? I read text books. Reading is the only thing that keeps me motivated everyday. Without books I can barely survive 30mins checking time every minute. With the books I sometimes stay extra 10-20minutes because I get so engrossed.
My point is – if you found something that works for you, keep on doing it. There absolutely no need to change anything.

January 14, 2013 at 11:57 pm
(4) SD says:

I REALLY like your suggestions, especially …
1. the “Feel Good” workout – it’s like a personal reward;
2. the “Home Circuit Challenge” – it’s a new way to look at the standard; and
3. the challenge of removing distractions.

I was just reading some new research about exercise effectiveness. The researchers could actually measure differences in exercise intensity when distractions – TV, books, mags, etc. – were used by the subjects. Furthermore, they could identify who was improving their fitness as well as their health. Oddly, they noted music did not apply unless the subjects were using video.

Looking forward to the findings of the secondary research group. Will the results be the same?

Thank you!

January 15, 2013 at 12:44 am
(5) Saroja says:

i catch up on my podcasts while exercising. most of them are radio programs on science, management, humor and such like. i know beats and rhythms are supposed to push your speed up, but these programs keep me walking and interested and learning. i think it is a decent trade off.

January 15, 2013 at 11:09 am
(6) Patty says:

Fox News?! Try watching The View! Talk about blood pressure going up.

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