5 Signs You’re in a Fitness Rut (Plus, How to Shake Up Your Routine)

I love routines. Morning routines, nighttime routines, weekend routines. You name it and I probably have a routine for it, but there’s one place where a routine isn’t all that ideal – in the gym. It’s important to not get into such a gym routine you find yourself doing the same thing each time you get your sweat on. Here are five signs you are in a fitness rut and what to do about it.

how to tell if you're in a fitness rut

First things first…

Before you decide whether or not you are in a fitness rut, Jillian Keaveny, Co-Owner/Co-Founder Compass Fitness, recommends inquiring within and asking yourself some questions. Think of the type of movement you are doing and ask yourself if it is fulfilling in regards to:

  • My mind – Is this movement intriguing to me? Does it include variety and creative?
  • My heart – Am I enjoying this movement with people I love? Am I in nature or in a space that feels great, fun and with killer music!?
  • My body – Does my body feel safe while being challenged in new ways? Am I accounting for any aches and pains?”

It’s also important to consider other lifestyle factors.

Keaveny says, “When I fear exercise burnout is rearing its head, I take a look at what other possible areas in my life I may not be taking the best care of myself. For instance, is my food on point? Am I feeding myself the correct and appropriate amounts of food for the physical and mental energy output? Am I getting enough alone time? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I spending enough time in nature and also with those I love? If the answer to any of those things is yes, I start spending some time changing that and take a day off of working out, sleep and eat well, and reassess the next day.”

Once you have tapped into yourself and your body, you may arrive at some clarity, but if not, read on!

#1 Counting down the clock

If you check the gym clock every few minutes and class seems to be passing as slow as microwave minutes, then odds are you are mentally checked out and you are not focused on the workout. When you get into a deep workout zone and are fully focused on the workout at hand, that is when the real magic happens and change occurs.

If you find yourself counting down until the end of class, it may be time to switch things up. Try mixing up your playlist or your surroundings. Sometimes a new beat or new sights is exactly what you need to get you out of that fitness rut.

Amy Potter, Personal Trainer and Health Coach, suggests opting for more dynamic movements. She herself loves kettlebells, med ball slams and plyometrics for some cardio, all of which are fun and effective.

#2 Hitting a plateau

If you are no longer making physical progress in your workouts, this may be a sign you are in fitness rut. Climb out of that rut and try new class, workout with a friend, check out aSweatLife event or hire a personal trainer for a one-on-one training session. Sometimes checking out something new can bring life back into your fitness routine.

Potter says, “What has worked for you in the past might not work for you anymore. What’s working for you now, might not work for you in the future. We are dynamic beings and just as other aspects of you change, the type of fitness you enjoy might change as well.”

Amber Main, Studio Lagree Instructor, even suggests planning your workouts two weeks in advance.

“When I feel like I am hitting a plateau, I will always plan my workouts at least two weeks in advance. I make sure to include at least two days of cardio and three days of strength training all at different studios even if that studio is my own living room.”

Main further explains that in order to see change you need to stay committed.

“Your body changes with consistency in the amount of times you are working out weekly, eating appropriate portions for your body type, and a commitment to complete what you set out to do.”

#3 Loss of enthusiasm

If you are no longer excited to hit your yoga mat in the morning or find yourself begrudgingly getting out of bed in the morning to head to the gym, it’s time to do something different! Are you a walker? Try jogging! A total yogi? Why not give kickboxing a whirl? A hard core HIIT-er? Zen out and get your namaste on! Sometimes doing the exact opposite of what you normally do can help you transition out of a fitness rut.

Potter herself says working out with other people gives her a boost of extra motivation. She further explains, ”Your workouts don’t need to be a routine. Maybe doing the same thing 5 days a week works for some people, but other may need more variety.”

“I used to run five days per week,” she continues. “I also used to lift five days per week. Now I play two different sports with my friends, take a HIIT class, lift weights and go for hikes. No two days are the same and for me, and I know that it’s effective and sustainable.”

#4 Quitting early

If you find yourself quitting reps early then you are probably in a fitness rut. It’s easy to burn out by not allotting yourself enough recovery time, so give yourself a break and take a rest day (or two).

As Potter explains, “If there is one skill you should master, it’s the skill of listening to your body. Check in with yourself, know when your body is telling you something and adjust your workout accordingly. Similarly, check in with your lifestyle. If you have high stress, poor nutrition or poor sleep habits, your rut may be fixed outside the gym.”

You’d be surprised; some simple self-care practices can do wonders for your next workout once you have had the proper amount of time to rest and recover.

#5 Sticking to one movement

If you get to the gym and automatically go straight to the treadmill, the elliptical, the weights, or (insert your exercise of choice here), then you may be in a fitness rut. This could possibly be a sign you do not have a well rounded program in place that incorporates cardio, flexibility, mobility and strength training.

If this happens to be you, Potter suggests focusing on a new skill set.

“There is always a fresh excitement to learning and developing technique, compared to just going through the motions of a workout so you can burn calories,” she points out.

It’s been said before, but the best workout for you  to do is the one you enjoy most, and Potter couldn’t agree more.

“At the end of the day, being in a rut means that you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you are less likely to keep doing it, which can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle and a plateau of your health and fitness goals,” she explains. “Find what you genuinely enjoy and go do it. If you don’t enjoy it anymore, do something different. Be adaptable. That’s the best way to create a sustainable practice of physical activity.”


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About Ashley Martens

Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois. With a lifelong passion for all things health and wellness, Ashley enjoys writing about topics to help people live happier and healthier lives. With a foundation in fitness, food, and nutrition, Ashley covers it all including sexual health and travel topics.

1 thought on “5 Signs You’re in a Fitness Rut (Plus, How to Shake Up Your Routine)

  1. I totally hit a fitness rut since I did the same few routines every week. I finally switched gyms to a gym that planned the workouts for you, and it changed my game! Exercising is way better when you enjoy what you’re doing and engaged in it instead of bored.

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