Sunday, May 9, 2010

"Exercise is Boring"

Am I crazy?

Seriously, I'd like to know your honest opinion. I enjoy training. I enjoy every facet of it. No, really, I do. I love biting into a brutal, challenging workout, chewing through the toughest tests that I can come up with. I love the sweat spots that I leave on the cheap carpet. I love the head rush from the last reps in Perfect-Push-up-HSPU sets. I laugh at the thought of hard workouts. Burn is bliss, as far as I'm concerned. There are so many things that I gain from it that I just can't imagine not trying to do something to strengthen my body every day. To me, it's every bit as important as showering or brushing my teeth.

So, for the life of me I can't wrap my head around people who don't like to train because exercise is boring. I thought about this the other day. I honestly can't remember the last time that I considered a training session to be boring. I have things that I like to do better than other things but I can't bring myself to call the lesser things a bore. I can describe exercise as challenging, inspiring, discouraging, difficult, nauseating, uplifting, brutal, nasty, evil, awesome, and cathartic. These are all pretty strong strong adjectives, all filled with powerful emotions.

When you think about what boredom is, it's really a lack of stimulation. You get bored when there's nothing to do. When things aren't worth doing. When things are too comfortable. When there's a lack of strong emotional response to a stimulus, you're bored. So, is the answer to boredom in training not abundantly clear yet?

If you're bored it's because you're not CHALLENGED ENOUGH IN YOUR TRAINING! I always take it for granted that people understand and accept that training should be hard. If it's too easy then it's not worth doing. I never cease to be amazed that so many don't understand that. If you're bored in your training, then you need to find ways to make it harder. You need to embrace this, most basic premise to training.

Even if you don't like that, you need to do it! Do you stop showering or brushing your teeth because they're either too boring or too challenging? Okay, they're not a challenge but if they were, would you stop doing them? Well, if you don't mind being disgusting, I suppose you could. Most of us don't want to be perceived by people that way. Who wants to smell bad?

So, why would exercise be any different? If you don't exercise enough, doesn't your body get kind of disgusting, at least to look at? For those of us who've been unfortunate enough to be smashed next to a fat person on an airplane, we know that they are disgusting to look at and smell. Thank the heavens, in spite of all the flying that I do, that hasn't happened to me yet. So, we could make a convincing case to think of exercise as a form of hygiene. If you don't want to look at exercise as a noble challenge to conquer and grow from, at least look at it like necessary, bodily maintenance.

It's a shame to have to look at training from such an obligatory perspective. To the rest of the world, the most crazy, hard-core strength trainers look like meatheads and gym rats. Some of that might be true but to be outright dismissive does is a poor way to look at strength training. Those of us who know better realize the immense personal growth that comes out of being physically strong, way beyond just our bodies. Doctors and scientists continue to prove how much being physically strong helps people become smart and happy. Boredom is a kills mind, body and soul, often times with stunning speed.

So, maybe asking if I was crazy at the beginning of this post was a little rhetorical (or maybe I just wanted to give my readers the opportunity to take a playful jab at me). I'm not crazy, I just realize how much there is to be gained from some hard training. If I am crazy, then maybe you should be crazy like me.


pierini said...

Justin, I wrote about this in the past at Pierini Fitness - boredom and intensity cannot co-exist so those who chant boredom are either boring or lack intensity in their training mix. And that's the bottom line.

Lion said...

You are incredibly right.

Also, I just found out about this blog two weeks ago and now I can't help visiting. I'm a fan... and a bit obsessed with bodyweight training.

Todd said...

I totally agree that it's a "basic maintenance" kind of thing, like changing the oil and cleaning the windshield of a car. Aesthetics aside, if you don't take care of your vehicle (the body is a vehicle of sorts) it will not work like it's supposed to. It's just being practical, not vain or crazy.

Of course as you say, there is so much more to be gained mentally and emotionally as well, but I guess it's hard to believe until you experience it. For myself, I struggle with anxiety and depression and exercise is one of the main tools I have to fight it.

Bodyweightmh said...

Ye it's got to be intense or you wont get anywhere. Those you say it is boring are not going anywhere because they are not pushing themselve.

demarcoa said...

So right Justin. "It's hard to be bored with something that's trying to kill you."

Anonymous said...

Working out at the intensity level you describe would leave me nothing for the next day. I've tried exercising for years, and it doesn't give me a 'rush' or make me feel good. It just leaves me depleted. And that's after pursuing a high intensity routine for several months, too. And exercising to the point of pain is just unhealthy and dangerous.