Home Blog 5 Ways to Avoid Boredom in Your Strength and Conditioning Programs

5 Ways to Avoid Boredom in Your Strength and Conditioning Programs

Written on May 3, 2013 at 6:29 am, by Eric Cressey

Good strength and conditioning programs change before people adapt to them physiologically, but rarely do you consider that some people may have adapted to those programs psychologically much earlier.  In other words, some people get bored quickly and need to shake things up to keep training fun.  To that end, here are five strategies you can employ to make sure that you don't find going to the gym monotonous.

1. Get a new strength and conditioning program.

At Cressey Sports Performance, we generally change programs with our athletes and clients every four weeks.  With all of them on their own individualized programs, this obviously makes for a lot of program design responsibilities for our staff.  However, an individual gets excited when he or she receive a programs that isn't only new, but uniquely his or hers.

I often see people do the same programs for months and months upon end. There might be a small percentage of the strength training population who can tolerate it, but based on my interaction with thousands of the clients over the years, long-term results are far better when people are having fun.  So, if you've been doing the same program since 1994, you might want to consider shuffling things up a bit.

2. Tinker with an existing strength and conditioning program.

It's not mandatory that you overhaul the program; you might just need to tinker with things.  Maybe you increase volume significantly in one training session or week to really challenge someone before deloading in the subsequent week.  Perhaps you modify exercise selection or the sets/reps scheme from week to week. The variations you can add are limited only by your creativity, but the important thing is that there is some variation in there, particularly if the individual doing the program is someone who gets bored easily.

3. Meet up with a new training partner.

I speak a lot about the importance of having good training partners and camaraderie in the gym. With this in mind, I'm convinced that the fact that people meet and train alongside new people every time they come to Cressey Sports Performance has a lot to do with our success.  While consistency is certainly a valuable quality to have in a training partner, the truth is that people seem to work harder when they're surrounded by new people.  It may kick-start a little competitive fire or even just be a matter of people not wanting to be perceived as "non-hard-working."  Whatever it is, sometimes the people surrounding you during a training session can have a big impact on the effort you put in - and the excitement you take away from the session.

4. Try some new training equipment.

A lot of fitness enthusiasts complain when they go on vacation and check out the hotel gym for the first time - only to discover less than stellar equipment selections. I'm not sure how people got the idea that a vacation resort would make a power rack, glute ham raise, and 2,000 pounds of free weights a priority when designing a resort for the masses, but some people do have this expectation nonetheless.

I'm much more of a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, so I view vacation training as an opportunity to shuffle my training up with some equipment access.  It's not going to kill you to use some machines for a week, and you won't waste away if you do more body weight exercises for a few days.  Chances are that you'll make yourself really sore and - when you're hitting the dessert bar for the fifth time - you'll feel a little better about yourself knowing that you still worked hard and have the physical reminder of it.

Even if you're not on vacation, you can change things up very easily.  It could be as simple as throwing a pair of Fat Gripz on the bar or dumbbell, or using a specialty bar for some squats or lunges.

5. Compete with yourself.

One of the biggest mistakes I see among gym-goers is that they rarely track their progress.  It only takes a few seconds to write down what you did in a given session, but for some reason, most people don't log their training sessions.  If you can't remember what you've done, how can you determine if you're making progress in the direction of your goals?  As an example, a partner challenge we recently developed at CSP is the 2,000-foot sprint on the Versaclimber. Each person goes 100-feet as fast as possible, and you alternate back and forth until you get to the 2,000-foot mark. Our fastest yet is 9:31, and it's brutal.

There's something wildly motivating about seeing improvements from week to week - even if they're only represented by a few seconds on the screen of a piece of equipment.  If you find yourself getting bored in the gym easily, then I'd suggest that you start tracking things a bit more closely so that you can head off that boredom before it sets in.  Plus, you might actually find that there's a reason to celebrate progress instead of just loathing the trips to the gym!

These are just five strategies to help you keep your strength and conditioning programs and sessions from getting boring, and there are surely many more.  If you're looking for some direction to shake things up, I'd encourage you to check out my High Performance Handbook, the most versatile training program on the market.

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12 Responses to “5 Ways to Avoid Boredom in Your Strength and Conditioning Programs”

  1. John Phung Says:

    Continued progress and trying to break personal records every week works for me!

    I tend to do the same exercises all the time, and if I’m progressing and hitting PR’s (in multiple rep ranges), it’s fun.

  2. matt siniscalchi Says:

    300 forward lunge, BIG BOSS

  3. Danny McLarty Says:

    These days in my life, nothing gets me more pumped up than new equipment. Just got a safety squat bar the other day and love it!

  4. Jason Says:

    Great post – people really like that balance between consistency (people like to do what they’re good at) and variety (but not all the time). Sometimes I’ll rotate one new exercise per session (or at least a variation).

    Or sometimes it can just be creating varying goals (for non sport-specific athletes): train for a half marathon in the spring, then for tennis in the summer, then maybe a triathlon in the fall. Whatever keeps someone interested and motivated.

  5. Alexander Says:

    To Mr Cressey,

    works as a S&C Coach in basketball here in Sweden, and have been following your work last 3 years. Started out using FMS but found your work and I have had great results with Assess and Correct and the corrective strategies and exercises found there.

    Working with basketball players, individual programming is probably more important than in any other sport, because of obvious differences in body length, body types and different demands depending on position.

    Re listening to a old podcast with you and Mike Robertson, and you guys discuss symmetry/asymmetry in athletes. You mention and I quote you “Symmtery may be a myth as we know it”. I understand this and see it every day in my players. The sport adaption is a fact, and we see this in all sports.

    But I see a big difference in asymmetry in the upper extremities compared to the lower extremities.

    Asymmetry in ankle and hip mob and stability together with knee stability cause big problems for us. Problem often starts when a athlete sprain his/her ankle and have a so so rehab protocol (if any except RICE, rest in the initial phase and some stability/balance training). Getting back the flexibilty of the calf muscles and fascia, the anterior tibia muscles and fascia together with ankle mob exercises is often not a priority in the physio therapy clinics here.

    So to the question.
    Do you separate the need of symmetries in the upper vs the lower body because of the negative effect assymetries in ankle and hip have on the knee, hip, spine and shoulders?

    In the weight room we could solve the assymetries and still work o strength and stability by avoiding bilateral work like squats, dead lifts etc and train more unilateral work, but on the court the players have got to move in all directions and assymetries will cause compensation and risk of injuries (knee, hips, back).

    In your view, how important is symmetry in ankle and hip versus symmetry on t-spine rotation/extension, shoulder joint internal/external rotation etc??

    Alexander Wikner,
    S&C Coach SBBK, Sweden

  6. Eric Cressey Says:


    I think it’s all important, but you certainly make a good point that asymmetries in the lower extremity tend to be more problematic quicker because we are always on our feet. That said, I think we get a bit less wiggle room in terms of how pronounced they can be before they cause symptoms. Good post.

  7. Robert Says:

    Hey mr.C

    Are raw eggs a good alternative to cooked? It gets pretty boring/time consuming eating 4 cooked eggs everyday. Will the protein content be the same?

    Thanks a lot

  8. Eric Cressey Says:


    I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw. No benefit,but lots of risk.

  9. Mark P Says:

    I should check out Fitocracy…

    Good post, Coach Cressey.

  10. Alexander Says:

    Thanks for your reply Eric, can imagine you are under a busy schedule. 🙂 Guess we as coaches learn new things everyday by reading books and blogs, watching dvds and now and then taking new courses, but I’ve found that being on the court with players or in the gym watching warm ups and try to understand and analyze the movement patterns I see, really help more than anything in programming.
    Do you guys work a lot with watching athletes play their sport as a part of evaluation and looking at increasing mobility, do you work alot with massage therapists and chiropractors when fascia is a limiting factor or when you see “locked” SI joints affecting mobility and muscle recruitment etc?
    Thanks for a great blog!

    Alexander Wikner,
    S&C Coach SBBK, Sweden

  11. David Dennis Sabourin Says:

    Hi Eric,

    I recently just finished “The High Performamce Handbook” program and hit pr’s in my squat, bench and deadlift. I was wondering if you guys offer another program with a similar layout to that program that focuses on strength and hypertrophy. I can not put aside money for a personalized program right now, so if there are any programs that are kind of a one size fit’s all that focus on strength and hypertrophy that you could recommend that would be perfect.


    David Sabourin

  12. Eric Cressey Says:

    David – have you checked out The Specialization Success Guide? http://www.buildingthebig3.com

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