Think about when you got your last new car. Do you remember the feeling of excitement that you had and how much you couldn’t wait to get in it and drive it those first few times? Somewhere around weeks 3 or 4, that rush started to wear off without you even realizing it. Now it is just a car that gets you from place to place.
Now think about when you first started your most recent job. Even if it was just a way to make ends meet, there was still a feeling of exhilaration at the beginning because you were meeting new people and you were assigned new tasks to complete. You may have had a different travel route to work or maybe they even sent you on business trips to places that you had never been before. But I am willing to bet that somewhere around a month in, your excitement started to dip a bit.
The same thing goes for any new hobby that you have started. Most people start and stop hobbies, not realizing the self-discipline that it takes to continue to learn about that hobby and put it into practice. They are fun at first but once any real effort has to be put into them, 99% of the population moves on to the next fun thing. Thus, the title. Anything that is new to us, excites us and then we move on. Think about when you were single and still in the dating game, great memories for sure, but if you really think about it for a minute, you will see the connection.
How does this apply to you and your desire for a better, stronger body? Without getting to scientific, the body thrives on new and exciting situations. Different hormones are secreted which increase our alertness and focus. This in turn continues into more muscle activation and so on. This is literally why our workouts are our drug of choice, they can be addicting. The key is to keep this high going.
I recently read Dave Tate and Jim Wendler’s Training Manual, which is based on the Westside Barbell Method which is based on the conjugate system of training. I love the options they give of switching up the workouts or main exercise of choice every few weeks or every week for the more advanced lifters. This gives the body a new stimulus, which is a must if we are trying to get it to adapt and become better and it keeps our brain engaged. Joe DeFranco also uses a similar system with great results and I believe the program design is spot on, but more importantly his athletes are engaged because they are always trying something new; new max effort lift, more weight, etc.
The mind is also a much overlooked factor in training. I actually read the title of this article in a book by Tony Hsieh, the CEO behind Zappos. The line didn’t real get into detail, but I thought it was so important that I highlighted it and marked the page (p. 87, Delivering Happiness). If someone of his stature of success realizes that novel situations are so important to success, then there is a key to what he is saying. Once something becomes routine and you do nothing to change this routine, you are in big trouble (workouts, marriage, work, etc.) While reading another book, The 50th Law, I came across some more relevant points on the subject: Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest architects of all time, realized that as humans, we have a compulsion to repeat the same things, succumbing to mental patterns. This can and will lead people to feel soulless. To counter this, Wright decided that no two designs of his would ever be the same. In 1934, Wright was hired to build a vacation house for a wealthy Pittsburgh magnate. Nothing was coming to Wright, so he played a trick on his mind. He waited a few months until the man called and demanded to see the plans. Wright told the man he had them done and that he should come over to see them. The man said he would be there in two hours and the truth is, Wright hadn’t even thought about it or begun the plan. This trick he played on himself forced a rush of creative energy to enter his mind and he went on to design his most famous piece of work. He forced himself into a new situation, which in turn tapped into his unlimited potential.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but if you read this, think on it for a while. There is a key in here that can apply to your workouts. If you do something that you have never done, your mind and body will come alive in that novel situation. It doesn’t mean abandon everything you believe in with your workouts and different people require different things at different times. This is something we can all practice when we are feeling in a rut and our workouts are becoming more and more uncreative.