Sometimes training can be downright boring. Doing the same thing week after week with only subtle changes to the routine can be mind-numbing. Oftentimes, this boredom can lead to program ADD.
In reality, the boredom you feel is completely normal. The only way to get better at something is to do it again… and again… and again… and again. The only road to mastery is through a heap load of practice. Boredom is just one of the many hurdles you have to overcome when you’re trying to improve at anything.
The reasons to shake your program up become more and more enticing. A change is as good as a rest, they say. However, changing your program too much or too often can lead to quick plateaus at the very measures you’re trying to improve upon. Look at it this way: you wouldn’t try to pitch with more velocity by playing tennis right before the start of the season, would you? Now, this isn’t a rant against playing multiple sports. Taking time away from one’s primary sport gives the body and mind a rest that is much needed by season’s end. This is meant to be viewed through the scope of the off-season training program.
Aside from boredom, another cause of program ADD is goal ADD. You start out wanting to improve your bench. A month into your program you decide you want to lose some fat. Somewhere during your MetCon phase, you see someone deadlifting big weight and want to do the same. Losing touch with your initial goal will have detrimental effects on your progress.
Back to the boredom. Let’s say for instance your goal is to build a bigger squat. The best way to do that is to make sure the squat is in your program. That doesn’t mean you have to squat every day. Varying workouts throughout the week can be a great way to break up the monotony. It means that every Monday, you squat. Every single Monday. Take it in stride and keep your eye on the prize. What about the workouts you do Tuesday through Saturday? They should be geared toward furthering your main goal. Deadlifts can be a great way to train hip extension but don’t go heavy. Save the good stuff for the squats. Glute-ham raises are great for glute development. Strong glutes will alleviate low back pain and help you when squatting from low depths. See where I’m going with this?
Alter your Monday squat variation a little. Change it up slightly every 4 weeks. Start your first 4 week cycle with the back squat. In 4 weeks, change to front squats. After that, it’s back to the back squat. These small changes will help break up the drudgery a little while actually helping you. Small alterations to a movement pattern will occur with different load placement. Take advantage of it. By changing how you load a squat, i.e. from back to front, you place emphasis on muscles that aren’t as heavily recruited during a classic back squat and allow them to grow.
At the end of the day, progress is supposed to be a grind. Massive overhauls on your programming, even if the programs you’re moving between are designed by the best coaches in the world, will yield less gains than sticking with an average program. Be consistent. Embrace the boredom. Love the grind. Stay focused on the goal.
Author: Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS
Aaron Runner is the Owner of Full-Stride Performance in Roswell, GA and a former NCAA Strength & Conditioning Coach.