Easy ways to beat gym boredom

Even the most avid gym-rat sometimes flags. This may be because of boredom or a lack of results. Here are some ideas on how to inject life back into your routine.

Revisit the treadmill
Road running is fun early on a Sunday morning, with the birds singing and the occasional carload of ravers making their unsteady way home. But for a lunchtime blast of endorphins and increased heart rate, you're probably better off on a treadmill. A major reason for this is that there are no traffic lights, vicious Maltese poodles or boy-racers on the treadmill. You can keep a sustained pace. Running in the gym has one other advantage: it allows you to monitor your stance in the mirror, especially once you begin to tire. Keep your arms in tight.

Is the heavy bag any good?
Plenty of blokes pummel away, pretending they're Brad Pitt in Fight Club, but using a punchbag can be punishing cardiovascular workout. Get yourself some gloves and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stand diagonally to the bag, left foot forward if you're left-handed. Your hand should face downward when it connects. Pretend to be punching through the bag. Try punching vigorously for three minutes and resting one minute. Do that for 20 minutes. Or try five 60-second sessions with no more than a minute's break in between each session.

Reverse pull-up
Ask any Marine instructor about the worth of the basic pull-up as a tool for increasing upper body strength, not to mention sheer humiliation. Try this version. Grab the pull-up bar in an underhand stance, in the finished position - fully pulled up. Now lower yourself slowly, counting to six. See how many you can do. The beauty of this is that after a couple of weeks you'll find it much easier to do pull-ups the conventional way.

Make your heart melt
As you know, your heart muscle benefits from vigorous exercise, just like all the others arrayed around your superb torso. Once you're reasonably fit, focus on keeping your heart rate between 65 and 85 percent of its maximum for between 20 and 60 minutes, at least three times a week. A good way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 225.

Alternatively, the bicycles, treadmills and step machines at the gym will do the calculations for you, although they've been known to be wildly inaccurate. One good way to get your heart rate up? Try the rowing machine. – (William Smook, updated September 2011)

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