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20 Strategies to Break Free from Your Exercise Routine Slump

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Try any (or all) of these small adjustments to break free from a fitness plateau and achieve improved outcomes more quickly.

Venture Outdoors for Your Exercise

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If you’re feeling uninspired by your usual gym routine, there is perhaps no better solution than taking your workout outside. One recent study indicated that engaging in physical activity outdoors can leave you feeling more invigorated, happier, and less fatigued compared to performing the same workout indoors. In addition to the mood uplift and reduced stress levels that come with connecting with nature, you will also encounter new challenges that can enhance your results—opting for a jog on uneven terrain engages more muscles and burns more calories compared to using the treadmill.

Shake up Your Routine

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While the most favorable time of day to exercise is when you are able to commit to it, altering your workout schedule can be a simple method to increase your energy levels during your regular routine. For example, if you must squeeze in your workout early in the morning to ensure it gets done (scientific research indicates that morning workouts have their advantages), try dedicating just one day per week to exercising in the evening or during your lunch break instead. You may find that you have more vitality, enthusiasm, and endurance to derive greater benefits from your usual workout.

Exercise with Your Eyes Closed

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Although it may sound peculiar, closing your eyes during certain strength exercises can help you concentrate on your form and focus on contracting the specific muscle being targeted—it may also result in more controlled and precise movements. Even a simple balance exercise (such as standing on one leg) can become more demanding simply by closing your eyes. (Caution: You may receive perplexed glances from fellow gym-goers.)

Trade Workouts with a Companion

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One of the most effective ways to break free from a monotonous workout routine is to abandon your usual regimen and try something entirely different, even if it makes you apprehensive. Not only will you work your muscles in a completely new way and elevate your overall level of fitness, but venturing beyond your usual workout comfort zone (whether it involves weightlifting or attending your first yoga class) also makes the time pass swiftly *and* boosts your self-assurance, to only highlight a few of the advantages of experimenting with new activities.

In reality, we are such tremendous enthusiasts at Shape that our editors chose to pledge to something novel and exchange exercises with one another for a month. Attempt doing likewise with your significant other or closest companion (make it considerably more enjoyable and do the exercises together!) and you will harvest significant psychological and physical advantages.

Reverse Your Jogging Course

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We’ve established that exercising outdoors is an excellent way to keep your cardiovascular exercise interesting, but you may be stalling your progress and inviting monotony if you always follow the same path. Some enjoyable ways to switch it up? Jog your favorite route in the opposite direction to keep your legs guessing and your mind free from the same old routine, or use an app like MapMyRun to discover a new jogging route near you. (

Get a Powerful Playlist

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Certainly, you probably know from experience that listening to music can help you push through that challenging HIIT workout or assist you in running faster, but science supports it, too. In fact, research has discovered that the tempo of a song directly correlates to the average individual’s heart rate during exercise—and that putting together the correct playlist can enhance your performance throughout every stage of your workout. That’s correct—music can heighten your motivation before you even commence, propel you once you’re there, and even hasten your recovery after you’ve finished. (More on that here, plus four playlists proven to add power to your workouts.)

Here are some general beats per minute (bpm) guidelines when it comes to selecting the perfect workout playlist: For strength training (done at a circuit pace), stick with 120–130 bpm; for running, try 150–175 bpm; and for cycling, try 95–130 bpm.

Give Priority to Your Recovery Routine

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If you’re excessively sore at all times, working out will be miserable, so devoting some effort to recovery can make sticking to a workout routine much more appealing. Fail to provide your muscles with enough time to repair themselves, and your progress will eventually stagnate or decline. Elevate your recovery routine by investing in an advanced foam roller or adding a collagen supplement to your regular post-workout smoothie for a boost.

Elevate Fundamental Movements

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Once you’ve mastered the fundamental push-up or squat, performing them day in and day out can put you on autopilot. By incorporating new variations, you’ll keep both your body and mind engaged and prevent a plateau. Not sure where to begin? Revitalize your regular plank with these alterations in our 31-Day Plank Challenge, or try one of these 16 alternatives to the standard squat. For a quick routine, give this four-minute total-body Tabata workout a go.

Locate a Workout Companion

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Experts suggest that finding a workout companion to involve in your health and fitness objectives is a significant part of achieving them. Having someone to keep you on course will assist you during your tough moments—like when you’re tempted to hit the snooze button on that early morning exercise class or indulge in a whole pint of ice cream.

Reduce Your Gym Time

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More isn’t always superior, particularly when it comes to your cardio workout. Tabata training (known as the “four-minute fat-burning miracle”) is a prime example. Research indicates that just four minutes of this ultra-high-intensity training is more effective than a one-hour treadmill session—making it the ideal way to spice up your monotonous steady state cardio routine. The best part is you don’t have to be at the gym to do it—try this calorie-blasting Tabata regimen that can be done at home to enhance your strength and endurance in mere minutes without any equipment.

Purchase That New Workout Attire

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Rewarding yourself (in a healthy manner) when you achieve a milestone is an excellent way to ward off a fitness slump. One approach to do so is by splurging on those trendy new sneakers or sports bra you’ve been admiring.

New exercise equipment motivates you to exercise more. When you feel great in your exercise garments, you desire to go the extra distance,” Karena Dawn of the Tone It Up Girls previously mentioned to Shape. Beyond the anecdotal evidence, research demonstrates that when you wear that adorable exercise apparel, you’re not just more inclined to be active—you’ll also experience a greater sense of self-assurance in your capabilities, which can result in improved concentration, motivation, and progress.

Rediscover Childhood Favorites

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If you haven’t taken a dip or gone cycling—or hopped on a trampoline—since you were a kid, now might be the time to reconsider. These activities are not only enjoyable, but they happen to be fantastic ways to stay in shape. Alternatively, think about reconnecting with a sport that you adored in high school, such as running track or ballet. To remain accountable, invite a friend to join you and make it a social outing. (Try It: Total-Body Living Room Boot Camp)

Tune in to an Inspirational Podcast

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If you haven’t explored the realm of podcasts yet, it’s time to start. Whether you’re seeking training guidance, weight-loss advice, or motivation to stick with your objectives, there’s a podcast for that. Listen to one while you prepare in the morning, during your commute, or throughout your workouts—and get ready to feel incredibly inspired.

Vary Your Surface

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If you consistently exercise on a leveled surface, it’s time to mix things up! On the treadmill? Add an incline. Doing squats? Stand on a BOSU. Going for a jog? Run through sand or water. You can burn more calories, engage more muscles, and have a more effective training session simply by altering the surface of your workouts.

Become part of a Fitness Community

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Similar to how a workout buddy can uplift you when you’re in a workout slump, there is significant power in having a “fitness tribe,” according to The Biggest Loser trainer Jen Widerstrom. That’s because when you share your goals with others on the same path, you’ll draw inspiration and energy from one another—and any obstacles you encounter won’t appear as daunting. Whether you join a local running group, CrossFit gym, or boxing studio, there are numerous ways to establish this community—simply commence with something you’re passionate about!

There are also countless fitness communities online you can tap into for those same advantages—Kayla Itsines, Anna Victoria, and the Tone It Up ladies are just a few of our preferred sources for workouts, wholesome eating plans, inspiring transformations, and genuine motivation when we need it most.

Or demand to join our confidential #MyUltimateAchievement Goal Annihilator community on Facebook for inspiration and backing from fellow members of the physical fitness society — incorporating the Shape personnel!

Reserve a Sports Massage

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If you’re feeling depleted, reserving a sports massage is one straightforward, scientifically-backed approach to combat it. That’s because—on top of assisting you in feeling less achy and moving more freely—sports massages actually enhance your circulation and amplify your muscle stamina. In other words, you’ll leave there feeling like an entirely new woman who’s prepared to crush her next workout. (Learn more about the advantages here, plus discover how to self-administer a massage at home.)

Pledge to a 30-Day Challenge

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If there’s an activity (like yoga, jogging, or HIIT) you’re aspiring to ultimately master, or a body part you’ve always longed to sculpt (hello well-defined arms, buttocks, and abs!), a 30-day challenge is a splendid way to motivate yourself to achieve those objectives. It’s the ideal duration of time to establish a new routine and also witness results by the conclusion of the month. The sense of community is a wonderful method to remain accountable—it’s easier to power through day 16 of burpees when you have someone else who comprehends your distress! But you can always try out a previous challenge all on your own to provide you with that initial momentum you require. Examine all of our 30-day challenges guided by top trainers and choose your poison!

Seek Professional Assistance

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In an era when celebrity trainers are easily accessible within seconds through their Instagram accounts, it may appear that hiring a personal trainer is no longer essential. However, even if you consider yourself an experienced exerciser, booking one or two sessions with a trainer to discuss your personal objectives can significantly contribute to taking your workout to the next level. (Most gyms offer a complimentary session to all members and may provide discounts if you’ve been a member for a while, so be sure to inquire about any special promotions.) Simply be specific with the trainer regarding what you expect to accomplish from the session(s) in order to maximize your investment.

Integrate Meditation Into Your Workouts

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If you perceive meditation as something you do completely separate from your exercise routine, you could be missing out on a plethora of bodily benefits. “When you commence a workout with meditation, you’re capable of focusing solely on the present moment, which enables you to move with purpose, so you can give your utmost effort,” says Holly Rilinger, a Nike master trainer and creator of LIFTED, a workout that incorporates meditation prior to and during the strength regimen.

Then attempt using the identical methodology to all of your exercise sessions to assist you in entering the state and obtain greater results from every perspiration session.

Register for a Race

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Even if you don’t consider yourself a “runner” or a super-competitive individual, enrolling in your first race might be precisely the challenge you need to break free from a monotonous exercise routine. We may have a slight bias, but the Shape Health Women’s Half-Marathon is an excellent choice for newcomers seeking an empowering, women-only race. (

If a half-marathon doesn’t suit your preferences, contemplate registering for an international race — whether it’s a 5K or a mud run — for a fulfilling and enjoyable challenge that caters to your fitness level. In addition to aiding you in accomplishing physical objectives, you will conquer mental obstacles that experts claim can assist you in excelling in other aspects of your life.

Get Involved in the Current Smartwatch Trend

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Aside from being a fashionable method to keep track of time and stay connected through text messages, an activity tracker that monitors your daily steps and physical activity is an investment that will hold you responsible for your health and fitness aspirations. Choose one that allows you to observe your heart rate during workouts (good news, most of them now come with built-in heart rate monitors), which supplies additional motivation to push yourself harder and achieve your target heart rate without overexertion. (More information on that here: How to Discover—and Exercise In—Your Personal Heart-Rate Zones)

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