Is Repetition Killing Your Motivation?
If you do the same exercises as everyone else, you will get the same results. Look around - is that what you want? I'm guessing I know your answer. I know exactly how you feel. I felt that way for a long time.
Repetition - Reps - even that little trainer-slang mini-version makes me cringe to this day. I'll never be able to get the time back I wasted doing repetitive, linear, core-stabilized, mid-range, isolation moves that didn't yield results. Even worse, I'll never get back all the time I wasted trying to distract myself with TVs, iPods, audiobooks, magazines, and hundreds of other desperate attempts to stave off the soul-crushing boredom.
People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it every day.
How Repetition kills Motivation
- It's Boring
- It's exhausting
- Lousy Results
- It confines you to your comfort zone so you never push your limits.
If you're spending more time on planning and implementing your workout distractions (music, social media, TV etc.) than you are on the workout itself - guess what? You're bored. It's bad enough that you're wasting several hours every week, time that you'll never get back, in a state of dismal, soul-crushing boredom. What's even worse is the effect it has on your workout.
Boredom not only makes it difficult to get started - the hardest part of any workout - but it also is a massive drag on your intensity level. I do my interval training every day at the beach and as I watch all the runners going by I notice that most of them are either landing their feet in front of them as they fall forward (so essentially stopping their forward motion with each foot strike), or just dropping their feet below their body to catch themselves and stay upright. It's literally painful to look at their faces and see how bored they are - I can feel it. And I can feel the time they're wasting ticking away.
Rarely, I will see a runner who is airborne, maintaining a powerful kick, feet flying, propelling themselves forward with every step. It's rare to see someone like this, who has defeated boredom - it always makes me smile.
Repetitive, linear motion forces you into a misallocation of your energy resources, tricking your brain into thinking that you are exhausted well before you actually are.
There are several different types of exhaustion and the ones that you are targeting with repetition are muscle and joint fatigue. Muscle fatigue results from repeated micro-trauma on a particular group of muscle fibers, depletion of glycogen, and the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle tissue. Joint fatigue is simply the repetitive pounding of one-dimensional linear motion.
The truth is that if you allocated your energy more efficiently, to multi-dimensional movement combining different muscle fibers and contraction types, you would have energy available to sustain intensity for much longer intervals.
This is probably in part a psychological trick that rewards you for exhausting a particular joint and muscle group quickly, giving you the false impression that you're achieving results, when really you'r just beating up your joints and reaching a state of muscle fatigue as quickly as possible with repetitive linear motion.
Face it - you don't love the results you see in the mirror. Maybe you don't even like them, and maybe you're not seeing results at all. It's no wonder, repetition is a results-killer for several reasons.
The first reason is time. You're wasting a massive amount of time and energy on repetitions that aren't contributing to your results. Think about it. If you do 15 reps and you only feel the burn on the last 3 then you're wasting 80% of your effort. If you rest for a minute between sets then that number goes up to about 95% - of your workout wasted.
Neuroscience and metabolism also play a role in the diminishing effects of repetitive exercise. A well-documented phenomenon known as metabolic adaptation essentially slows down your metabolism as you lose weight, so the same amount of exercise burn fewer calories.
To make matters even worse, a study from Columbia University found that your muscles start using genes that make them more efficient, so they burn 20 to 30 percent fewer calories for the same exercise.
So the loss of intensity due to boredom and exhaustion is compounded by the fact that you need to continuously refresh your workout to push the intensity of muscle stimulation to higher levels to achieve results.
Pushing Your Limits
The Most important reason that repetition is killing your motivation is that it confines you to a comfort zone in which you will never learn how to push your limits, which is crucial to achieving results.