You've been working out for a while, and it's starting to feel comfortable -- too comfortable. It's time to make it tougher again.
Step up the challenge if you recognize yourself in any of these five scenarios.
1. You do the same moves over and over.
When you first begin exercising, it can be tough to find an activity you love. Once you do, you want to keep at it, which is great -- but you also need to switch it up.
“Your body adapts quickly, sometimes in just a matter of a week, to whatever exercise you’re doing,” says Janice Clark, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. “Once that happens, your body doesn’t have to work as hard, and you burn fewer calories.”
The solution: First, make sure you have a well-rounded fitness program that includes aerobic exercise, resistance training, and stretching. By doing these three things, you’ll naturally give your body variety.
Then, every week to 4 weeks, change one thing about your workouts. For example, ride the stationary bike instead of running on the treadmill. Push yourself a bit more in one of your cardio workouts, or try a new strength exercise.
2. You talk with friends the entire time.
A workout buddy can encourage and motivate you. But if you can easily carry on a conversation while you exercise, you’re not working hard enough, which will make it tougher to achieve your goals, Clark says.
The solution: Don't dismiss your buddy, but save the chat for later.
When you exercise at a moderate level, you want to work hard enough so that you can only get out a few choppy sentences, not carry on a full conversation. When you work out intensely, you should be able to squeeze out only a few words before you need to take a breath.
3. You’re binge-watching TV.
It will pass the time. But you can’t focus when you’re deep into your favorite show, or when you flip through a magazine, or scroll through email and texts. It’s too hard to get to and maintain the right intensity when you do that. And if you lean on the machine while you read? That’s totally cheating.
The solution: Do most of your workouts without the extra entertainment. If you must watch TV or read a book, check in every few minutes to make sure you’re at least working at a moderate intensity.
4. You’ve barely broken a sweat.
If you didn’t perspire a drop during your entire workout, even if you were outside in cold weather, then you probably could have revved it up more.
“Although some people sweat more than others, you should have some visible sweat, which indicates you’ve worked hard,” says Kayla Itsines, a personal trainer who started the Bikini Body Confidence online workouts.
The solution: Don't work so hard that you risk getting injured, but pick up the pace or intensity so that your sweat-wicking clothes have something to wick.
5. You don’t feel like you’ve done anything.
Be honest with yourself. It’s OK to adjust for your skill level or scale back when something feels too tough, but you don’t want to completely let yourself off the hook.
After a too-easy workout, "you might walk away feeling disappointed and less motivated," Itsines says.
The solution: You’ll know you’re exercising at the correct intensity if your workouts feel challenging, but not so hard that you can’t complete them. By the end, you should be feeling good.