Guest Post: Make Your Next Gym Workout Fun
Editor’s Note: This post is written by Indriyas Wahyuni and has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Minneapolis Running.
Exercising at the gym is one of those activities that can easily become monotonous and quite boring over long periods of time. This repetitiveness can lead one to stop exercising altogether as they slowly get caught up in the same old drills and patterns they have been doing for weeks and end up questioning the value of the activity itself.
It’s not that gym routines aren’t useful – it’s just that they aren’t that exciting to repeat day in and day out. This makes quite a difference because we all know how difficult it is to do something when we perceive it as boring and tedious and only good for us in the long-term.
The mind, and not just the body, plays an important role in exercise. You need to be disciplined, yes - but you also need to enjoy it, because if you don’t enjoy it you just won’t do it; and you probably won’t be able to reach your goals by doing the same three drills over and over and over.
In this post, I share five main elements of fitness and then share a list of 55 useful exercises you can implement in your workouts to make them more fun. Gym Hut has also created an infographic that outlines each exercise. By diversifying your workouts, every day can turn into a surprise – both for your mind and for your body. Furthermore, if you do the same routines repeatedly, your body gets used to them and chances are your fitness levels will eventually plateau – in other words, your gains will stop.
Related: Why Runners Should Hit the Gym
Five Main Elements of Fitness
Research shows that keeping a varied routine actually makes your body work harder as it adapts to different challenges over time. Of course, I am not suggesting that you should try all of these in one go – the human body has its limits, and over-exercising can result in injuries; so don’t get too excited, especially if you are still a beginner! Still, you may find it useful to know about the various elements of fitness and how you can best diversify your routine to cover them all.
These elements are stretching, aerobic exercise, core exercise, balance training, and strength training. By focussing on all of these elements rather than just one you can decrease the chances of your fitness levels plateauing in just a few weeks.
Stretching is one of the best things you can do to your body. Doing so consistently helps your muscle fibers stay strong and healthy and your joints keep a decent range of motion.
If you don’t stretch, your muscle fibres can become short and tight, and when it’s time to use your muscles there is a higher chance that you’ll get injured. It’s important to highlight that one day of stretching is not going to cut it. To see and experience the benefits, you need consistency.
Also known as cardio. Working on your cardio bears all sorts of benefits: it improves your heart health, increases your metabolism, facilitates your circulation, reduces blood pressure, reduces the risk of certain cancers, improves your lung capacity and can even boost your mental health!
Cardio is essentially any activity that makes you breathe a little harder and increase your heart rate – of course, there are different levels of intensity; the good news is that even a little bit counts!
Core exercise is all about working on the muscles in your stomach, pelvis and lower back to improve your overall balance and stability. Core exercise is also what you would focus on if you wanted abs – very important stuff.
In all seriousness, working on this set of muscles is one of the other best things you can do to your body, as doing makes it easier to carry out most physical activity – from playing golf to picking up something from the top shelf to tying your shoelaces. If you don’t do this - especially if you never do this, you may suffer from back problems or back injuries over time. Not recommended.
Now, many people tend to overlook this element of fitness, and that is probably because balance is one of those things that becomes more important the older you get, and most of the people who are interested in fitness are more likely to be drawn towards other types of activity.
While it is true that balance becomes more important with age, that doesn’t mean that we should only start thinking about it in our forties. Maybe you don’t need to include balance training in all your workouts, fine; but do yourself a solid and have a go at it once every few exercise sessions, I guarantee you will not regret it.
If you want to reduce body fat, increase your lean muscle mass and burn more calories, strength training is one of the best ways to achieve these objectives. It is an essential component of fitness and is potentially the most important of the elements we are discussing. Of course, they are all crucial – but there’s just something about it that makes it way more attractive.
As you get older, you are going to have to work progressively harder to preserve your lean muscle mass, which is one of the reasons I would suggest starting on this today, right now! By working on your strength, you can help your body preserve and enhance its muscles, keep your weight in check, strengthen your bones (also something very important when it comes to ageing) and, of course, keep your mind sharp. Indeed, research shows that strength training as well as aerobic exercise can help maintain and improve thinking and learning skills in older adults.
55 Gym Exercises
Now that you know a bit more about the essential elements of fitness, here are some useful exercises you can use to diversify your workouts. There is quite a nice variety in this list that makes it accessible to different people at different levels of fitness.
- Flutter Kicks
- Dumbbell Side Bend
- Single-Leg Plank
- Side Plank
- Bicycle Kick
- Knee to Elbow Crunches
- Exercise Ball Crunches
- Exercise Ball Crunches High Legs
- Incline Bench Crunches
- Abdominal V-Ups
- Leg Raises
- Lying Side Leg Raises
- Bird Dog
- Knee Tuck Push-Ups
- Standing Trunk Rotation
- One-Arm Dumbbell Row
- Wide Dumbbell Row
- Hammer Curls
- Seated Concentrated Curl
- Seated Dumbbell Curl
- Barbell Curl
- Toe Raise
- Rocket Squats
- Barbell Incline Bench Press
- Bench Press
- Knuckle Push-Ups
- Pac Deck Machine
- Superman Lower Back Exercise
- Pointed Butt Lift
- Hip Raise
- Bench Lunges
- Barbell Squat
- Sumo Squat
- Lateral Goblet Lunge
- Leg Extension
- Front Squat
- Upright Row
- Shoulder Press
- Shoulder Shrug
- Lateral Raise
- Standing Barbell Press
- Front Raise with Dumbbell
- Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Standing Dumbbell Reverse Curls
- Barbell Triceps Extension
- Seated Triceps Extension
- Bench Dips
- Triceps Dumbbell Kickback
I hope this list gives you some good ideas in terms of diversifying your gym workouts so that whenever it’s time to get down to work you have something positive to look forward to. The mind is just as important as the body when it comes to fitness. Good luck!