How to get out of a fitness rut

Signing up for events like the Shape Run is one way to motivate yourself if you need a new fitness goal.
Signing up for events like the Shape Run is one way to motivate yourself if you need a new fitness goal. PHOTO COURTESY OF SPH MAGAZINES

Switching up your workout routine is key to avoiding boredom and maximising weight loss

Our bodies are smarter than we think. Each time we perform new exercises, our muscles get shocked. Then, they work hard to recover from the stress in a few days. That is when you get stronger.

Try doing those same exercises repeatedly over a few months. They will feel progressively easier and your muscles will stop aching.

But that also means your workout is becoming less effective, whether you're trying to lose weight, firm up the core or improve your cardio fitness. With less muscle burn, you torch fewer calories.

Generally, fitness trainers recommend switching up your workout routine every four to six weeks, to avoid boredom and maximise weight loss as well as muscle-building results.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is time to take action.

• You can hold a conversation throughout your workout

• You no longer break a sweat like before

• You do not feel the post-workout muscle soreness

• You start to question why you exercise

• You are thinking about what to eat afterwards

Here are some ways to beat this workout slump.


The quickest way to jazz things up: Increase the frequency, intensity and/or time of your workouts.

If you are running at a steady pace twice a week, consider adding an interval run to your routine. Or replace one of the easy runs for a long run or tempo run, where you run at your targeted race pace.

Lifting weights? Increase the load by 1kg to 2kg when you stop feeling the burn. You should still maintain proper form.


Most women want to lose weight or tone up. But constantly focusing on those goals can make working out seem very functional, and not so fun. Find a fitness goal or a new sport that makes you feel excited.

It could be learning to do a handstand, for instance. Coach Firdaus Fidrishah at Triplefit Singapore says: "The sense of pride, confidence and freedom you feel when you 'hover' in the air is unmeasurable. Once you achieve a goal like that, you'll feel so happy for having started. And you'll be motivated to do more."


If you have been exercising solo, it is a good idea to include group fitness classes such as HIIT (High-intensity interval training) or circuit training in your routine.

Helmed by qualified instructors, these classes are usually refreshed constantly, so you are never doing the same thing each time. And because group classes tend to have people with different fitness levels, trainers would often provide variations for the moves - something useful to learn.


There are many benefits to working with a personal trainer.

Most importantly, you can be sure of doing a customised workout that caters to your fitness level, goals and physical condition.

Do not underestimate the difference a trainer can make.

They are excellent at spotting your weaknesses, including form mistakes, and making sure you do the right kind of exercises to overcome them.

Like any trainer will tell you: It is not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.


There is nothing like a race or a community workout to recharge your engine. In the presence of like-minded people, you are likely to soak up positive vibes and be more motivated.

Do not miss the upcoming Shape Run on Aug 13, when thousands of women will come together to run 5km, 10km or a 15km relay (team of three).

If you have children aged 13 and below, bring them along to the 1.8km Family Fun Run.

You can sign up at


It may seem counter-productive to do so, but sometimes all you need is to wind down, especially if you exercise daily or if you push hard all the time. This break is a chance for your body to rest and recover from all the stimulation.

A week or so would suffice. After that, you should feel more energised and ready to take on new challenges.

• This article first appeared in

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'How to get out of a fitness rut'. Print Edition | Subscribe