I used to look to variety and novelty to keep my mind engaged and fresh. However now, I believe there are some serious pit falls with just going for variety for the sake of keeping away boredom. In addition, I think there’s something far more effective for both your metal engagement as well as your results.
When it comes to keeping the mind engaged, progression in a workout program is far more potent than variety.
I came to this conclusion when I realized that you don’t get better results because you do something different, but rather you do what you’re already doing better.
In other words, progression is the root of what brings results. The idea that your muscles have to kept guessing or confused is a load of hogwash. Confusion and random actions takes your potential for success and turn it into a game of chance. You’re ability to get stronger and more fit goes from being a solid plan to a simple roll of the dice.
That doesn’t mean you can’t advance your fitness with random acts of exercise variety, you can. But if you do advance, it’s not because of the variety, but the sheer luck that your workout had progression in it. What’s more, if your training had progression through chance, then there’s also the chance that your workout will maintain that level of fitness. If every workout is a roll of the dice then every workout has the potential to be either progressive, regressive or maintenance.
I no longer look to variety as the solution of workout boredom. Instead, I go for progression.
Progression is far more motivating and engaging than variety in many ways.
The first is that your motivation is primarily driven by the balance between your results and the costs associated with them. If a method has a high lifestyle costs, but doesn’t provide much in the way of results your motivation will dwindle. It’s not about being lazy or apathetic. It’s simply a healthy reaction for your mind to weigh the costs and benefits. When motivation drops that’s your mind figuring out that the benefits are not worth the costs.
Variety can be a temporary motivational patch. It can make your mind pause and think “Hey maybe this new thing will work out. I’ll suspend the urge to quit until I see if this new thing pans out.”
Progression on the other hand actually fires up your motivation. It makes your mind say “Hey, this is just what I was looking for! I’m going to keep going on this path because the benefits are certainly worth the costs.”
So while variety can delay boredom and put off the motivational tailspin, progression eliminates it all together.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have variety in your workouts. You certainly can and still make progression. The key is to keep progression as the focal point of your workouts rather than just doing something novel. Because over time, your mind will figure out if you are getting what you want or not and when that happens your motivation will come down to whether you’re seeing the progress you want or not.