In almost every article on Neat Strength, I advertise simplicity to reach your fitness goals. I tell people they don’t need a gym membership or equipment. Not even special workout clothes are necessary.
I promote eating simple, real food.
Be consistent with your workouts and stop the routine hopping. Pick a few compound exercises and slowly progress with them.
Today I’m telling you to ignore this advice once in a while. No, I don’t have a personality disorder (me neither!) and I’m gonna elaborate why this makes sense.
Being consistent with your workouts and diet is simple. However, it’s not easy.
Because of the constant information flow that the internet and media provide, you’re getting bombarded with new shiny options to try out.
There is a new workout routine that helps burn fat even faster. A new diet hack promises to vault your muscle growth rate to new dimensions. You’re working on L-sits, while you find a new tutorial on dragon flags and you’re tempted to try it all.
Sometimes, consistency get’s boring. But most of the time, boring is what reaps results.
How do you keep it fresh while staying consistent? Well, how do you make an old recipe more interesting? Add some spices, don’t change the whole recipe.
Have a Cheat Workout
This is the equivalent to a cheat meal. Cheat meals are a method to keep you on track when following very strict diets. Basically, you’ll treat yourself like it’s your last meal once in a while. For some, this makes it easier to stick to a strict diet for the rest of the time. Additionally, you give your body a message that you’re not starving and food is still available, keeping your hormonal balance in check (at least that’s the reasoning behind it).
I suggest you try this with your workouts. Once in a while, do something completely different from your current routine. Do something that challenges your body in a different way than you’re used to. Make it fun. Do something where you can apply the skills you acquired during your normal workouts.
This does a few things, mentally as well as physically.
By trying something different, you’re forcing yourself out of your comfort zone. You may have a very good level of functional fitness from doing calisthenics, but you can still suck at martial arts if you’ve never done this sort of thing.
It’s good to sometimes adopt a beginner’s mind, to be OK with being totally clueless about something. You learn to embrace sucking at something before you can get good at it.
You’ll broaden your horizon. You’ll experience that there are other sports or workout styles that can be fun, too. Maybe you even learn stuff that you never thought about before and implement it in your usual fitness routine.
It’s also a great opportunity to meet new, like-minded people. Meeting new people is just fun by itself.
Another great benefit is that it makes you a more physically rounded athlete. You’ll use your body in ways you’re not used to. Therefore, you push your physical limits with more versatility.
By stepping out of your comfort zone, you’ll simultaneously grow the radius of it.
How to Implement a Cheat Workout
Now that I got you stoked about cheat workouts, how do you actually have one?
Try some free drop-in classes.
There are tons of places that offer free courses for newbies. You can try yoga, pilates, climbing and all different kinds of martial arts. Try fitness boxing or some sort of CrossFit. Most gyms offer free trial workouts. Go in there and see how much you can bench press without having touched a barbell for moths. The possibilities are endless.
Sometimes, they don’t offer completely free classes. But most of the time, one class only costs about ten to fifteen bucks. How much did you spend on drinks last time at the bar?
Make it social.
Take a friend with you. Or let somebody who does a certain sport take you. Exchange expertise. Maybe a friend of yours is into running. Let him or her show you how it’s done properly. In exchange, show them some of the stuff you can do next time.
When you drop into a class, get to know the people. Maybe you make some friends along the way. It’s great to have a social circle that shares your enthusiasm for fitness.
Try a team sport. Get your colleagues at work to play Ultimate Frisbee or soccer with you. Or join a game at your local park.
Register for a local sports event.
Try a 5k fun run. Try an urbanathlon, a Tough Mudder or other crazy stuff. Don’t get overly competitive here. You don’t have to finish first to make it fun (pun intended).
Do something that’s not considered working out.
You don’t always have to break a major sweat to get out of your comfort zone. Try a dance class (which can be exhausting, too). Go on a long hike. Learn how to juggle. Try some slacklining.
Be prepared to get your ass kicked.
You’re gonna be humbled if you try some of the stuff above. You will get sore from some of it and will probably suck really hard at most of it.
That’s fine. You may be able to do advanced calisthenics, stuff that most people can’t do, like one-arm push-ups, back levers or pistols. But it does not make you superhuman. There will still be a lot of people who can do some things much better than you. Learn from them and stay humble.
The whole point of having a cheat workout is to renew your enthusiasm for your usual regimen.
Do this only once in a while. Being sore all the time from trying all kinds of different things will impede your progress on your routine work. Limit physical demanding cheat workouts to every two weeks.
I actually don’t really schedule my cheat workouts. Sometimes, a friend asks me to go running with him. Another friend hands me a free trial workout coupon from her gym. Other times I take the initiative and sign up for a free first CrossFit WOD or some martial arts class. To me, that’s what being fit is about: being able to move around, at any time, in whatever modality you fancy.
Hey, and you just might discover something that you really like. If you can make it work with your current fitness goals, go and stick with. For example, yoga and rock climbing can complement calisthenics skill work really nicely.
There you have it, lots of neat ideas to stir things up again, make your physical endevour more fun and challenge yourself in new ways.
What are your experiences with drop-in classes and workout spontaneity? Tell me in the comments below.
Photos: Sabine A., Lisa-M. B.