By Jon Luman
For a lot of guys, working out is a necessary evil. It keeps us from looking like human veal, which women tend to appreciate. But it can also be mind-numbingly boring -- and that can sap your will to hit the gym. Which means you start looking like human veal, which means you need to get motivated.
Yes, you can make a high-energy playlist, hire a personal trainer (if you can afford one), and pick a cardio machine that's near a TV. But we've got a list of things that can be even more helpful in keeping you motivated -- and that can make your workouts far more effective.
Tip 1: Change Your Workouts Regularly/Invite Peer Pressure
Switch your workouts around every few weeks or whenever you feel like you're no longer seeing results (muscleheads refer to that as plateauing). Mix up the exercises, sets, reps, rest periods, level of intensity, length of time and number of days you train; it's called the muscle-confusion principle. (Yes, even your muscles can get confused.)
And you can do this automatically by signing up for the Muscle & Fitness Trainer. It's free, and depending on what you want to do -- build muscle, lose weight, get bigger guns than Mr. Olympia -- it'll build you personal workouts. If you don't check in and train when you're scheduled to, the M&F Trainer will send a message to your friends and family to let them know. You might not feel guilty for eating Funyons and watching Netflix instead of going to the gym, but you'll definitely feel annoyed when you're bombarded with Facebook posts from people busting your chops for bring a loafer.
Tip 2: Find A Good Workout Partner
Finding a reliable and motivating person to train with who will A) show up on time, B) make sure you show up on time, and C) prevent a barbell from crushing your larynx if you lift more weight than you can handle is a good thing to do even if you've hired a personal trainer. If it's a friend, let them know you won't use the rest periods between sets to vent about every horrible thing going on in your life -- there's nothing wrong with some chit-chat to pass the time, but don't let it trip you up.
Tip 3: Use HIIT Cardio
No matter what machine you choose, it's pretty much guaranteed to be the most mundane thing you do all day. The good news is that you can cut your cardio time in half by using the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) method. With HIIT, you'll alternate high intensity with low to moderate intensity on a 2:1 ratio (so if you sprint for two minutes, you then walk for one minute). Research has shown HIIT can burn up to 50 percent more calories than steady cardio activities by speeding up your metabolism in the following 24-hour period after you've finished. Also, you can apply the HIIT principle with almost any activity. No, not sex.
Tip 4: Have Specific Goals
Saying you want to lose weight, or look good, or be "mad swole" -- some guys seriously talk like that -- doesn't really give you much to strive for. Instead, set smaller, specific goals, like saying you're going to add a half-inch to your biceps, tack on 15 pounds to your bench press, or lose one chin. Having something clear to accomplish allows motivation to smother the boredom.
Tip 5: Take It Outside
When you're not at risk for frostbite, take your workout outdoors for one workout per week. And not just to bike, hike, inline skate or parkour around town. Create a bodyweight workout you can do in any park, backyard or prisonyard. Here's a sample routine:
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