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Total-Body Workouts for Women

5 Ways to Make Your Next Workout More Fun

Take the “routine” out of your training with these five expert tips.

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When “work” is in its very name, it may be easy to forget sometimes that workouts should be fun in addition to being effective.

So, if you’ve found yourself dreading the gym more often than looking forward to it,  BODi  trainer and health and fitness coach  Jenny Jaucian  has some advice you’ll love.

“So many factors can create a fun workout — from the energy of an instructor and their music choices to your workout programming and even what equipment you use, all of these components can play a huge role in making exercise more enjoyable,” she says.

Here are a few ways to shake things up and make sure you’re having some fun while you get your sweat on!

1. Break Up Your Long Cardio 

“To spice up a long-duration cardio session, try creating a circuit-style cardio workout, spending about three to six minutes in one station before moving to the next,” Jaucian says. For example, you can run on a treadmill for five minutes, do the row machine for five minutes, then hit the stair climber for five minutes, and repeat this circuit two to three times. “It helps break up what feels like a long, monotonous cardio routine into bite-sized intervals without losing any of the benefits,” she adds.

Another break-it-up option is to create high- and low-intensity intervals within your cardio routine.

“If you’re listening to music, pair a high intensity effort every time you hear the chorus drop,” Jaucian explains. “Then, when the song goes back to the verse, lower your intensity into a more moderate pace. Keep repeating until your entire playlist is done. Doing this can help you tap into the metabolic boosting effects of HIIT training while bringing more fun.”

2. Ditch the Same-Old, Same-Old in Your Strength Session  

Weightlifting with barbells, dumbbells and stationary gym machines is a surefire way to results, but those pieces of equipment can get a little rote over time.

“Instead of using these traditional methods all the time, add variety to your strength training routine by incorporating bands, medicine balls, exercise balls, TRX straps, box steps, kettlebells, and ropes,” Jaucian says.

The change-up can be as easy as doing the same movements but with different tools — squats with bands or kettlebells, rows with the TRX Suspension Trainer, push-ups on an exercise ball, overhead presses with a medicine ball. The reality is anything you can do with a dumbbell, barbell or machine can be replicated with numerous other implements.

“You can also challenge your body to handle different movement patterns by doing single-side — otherwise known as unilateral — variations of things like squats, deadlifts and presses, which can help you increase balance, stabilization, and core strength,” Jaucian adds.

“I’m a believer in the phrase, ‘Change  FITT  Up!’ If you are no longer seeing results in your workouts, change the  frequency  (how often you do something),  intensity  (how challenging your workouts are),  time  (how long you do it), or  type  (what style of training you do). Changing one or more of those factors instantly adds more variety to your routine.”

3. Revamp Your Reps 

As creatures of habit, we can sometimes get stuck on a rep scheme — whether it’s a range of 8-12, 12-15, or just a nice round 10 reps in every set. Sound familiar? It’s time to break up with your rep rut.

One idea is to measure your sets by time rather than counting reps. In a technique popular among CrossFitters referred to as AMRAP — “as many reps as possible” — you set a time, such as 10 minutes, and try to do as many rounds as you can of a circuit of moves.

For example, on leg day, you could pair a circuit of 10 hack squats with a medium weight, 10 jump-ups onto a platform, and 20 dumbbell walking lunges (10 steps per leg); repeat until 10 minutes is up.

Another CrossFit trick is EMOM — “every minute on the minute.” Say you’re doing pull-ups; you set a stopwatch for 10 minutes or keep an eye on a clock with a second hand, and at the top of each minute, you do a set until failure, then rest until the next minute starts. This technique also works well with medicine-ball exercises such as chest slams to the floor or twisting wall-ball slams.

 4. Stretch Your Limits 

“Stretching is extremely important for recovery, yet so many exercisers either forget or skip this essential part of a workout routine,” Jaucian says.

As we get older, the mobility of our joints naturally decreases, but research shows that stretching as little as 10 minutes a day can help counteract that decline, while also improving blood flow and vital nutrient supply to our muscles, tendons, and bone structures.

“Personally, I like to stretch while I listen to one of my favorite podcasts or TV shows,” Jaucian adds. “Pairing something you don’t like to do with something you do like to do can help build the habit of stretching. And if you need to create more accountability to make sure you get it done, book a yoga or stretch class with a girlfriend so that you can stretch and socialize afterwards.”

5. Throw Your Body a Curveball 

The typical style of training among those who are after aesthetics above all else is to focus on one bodypart at a time. We have “leg day,” and “back day,” and “arms day” — you know the drill.

That’s a proven method for muscle-building, of course, but it’s not the only way to slay your gym goals.

“Our bodies thrive on new experiences,” Jaucian says. “If you find yourself uninspired doing the same workout over and over again, change it up.”

Don’t worry about straying too far outside your comfort zone. Try a kickboxing class, aerial yoga, or indoor cycling.

“If I’m not teaching a BODi class, I love creating my own circuit-style workouts in my home gym, incorporating both cardio and strength for a total body sweat fest,” Jaucian says. “I also love playing pickleball with my family, throwing a frisbee with my boyfriend at the beach, enjoying nature hikes, and dancing in my living room. Explore different options and find a workout that makes you keep coming back for more.”