On a scale of “I’d rather have my eyes gouged out with a soldering iron” to “jumping into a giant ball pit,” how much fun was your last workout?
If you were closer to the “please God, stab me in the eye with a hot metal wire” side of things, I’m sorry. That sucks. If you’ve been feeling like that for awhile, it’s super easy to convince yourself to skip the gym altogether.
So how can you make your workouts more fun?
You could challenge yourself by signing up for a new cardio class. Or maybe switch it up and do some yoga. Or maybe it’s time you join the cult of CrossFit. Nah, forget all that. You already have a super-simple tool sitting in your dusty copy of Monopoly.
Get Outta Jail
I wish I could take credit for this idea. But this genius training strategy is all thanks to the Godfather of strength and conditioning, Dan John. In his book Never Let Go, Dan suggests that to make your workouts more fun all you need is a pair of dice.
And if you feel like you’re in workout prison right now, then like Monopoly, you need to roll the dice to get out.
Tip: As Dan notes in his book, this isn’t a strategy you need to implement every day. It’s a strategy you can use once a month, at the end of a training block, or if you’re in need of a quick way to workout while on vacation.
The Rules of the Game
If you decide to use this approach with barbell exercises, make sure you follow this one rule: Never lift more than 70% of your 1-rep max.
Now, when it comes to exercise selection, always choose one pushing and pulling movement. For instance, a squat is a push-based exercise; a chin-up is a pull. Or you could choose a deadlift (pull) and overhead press (push).
So let’s say you choose to deadlift and overhead press. You have your exercises selected, but how do you determine your rep scheme? Easy. This is accomplished with your first roll of the dice.
Determine your reps by rolling the dice and then multiply the two numbers you rolled for the total number of reps you perform.
For example, you roll a 4 and a 5, then you perform 20 reps of that exercise, roll two 6’s and you perform 36 reps. Once fate has determined your total reps, then you decide how to split them up in sets. If you rolled two 6’s, you can either do one huge set of 36 reps or break it down and perform 3 sets of 12 reps.
**Quick note: if you choose to perform higher rep sets, keep your weight around 40-45% of your 1-rep max. You’re looking to make your workout more fun, not cause yourself to hate life even more. So be smart if you choose high rep sets**
You’re not done with those dice yet. You still have to determine your rest time between sets. To determine your rest time, roll the dice again, and whatever number comes up multiply that by 10 to determine how many seconds you rest.
Your workout might look something like this:
Deadlift – 20 total reps broken down into 4 sets of 5 reps at with 50 seconds of rest.
Overhead Press – 36 reps total broken down into 6 sets of 6 at with 20 seconds of rest
You can use this concept as well to hit your abs with hanging leg raises, planks, or cable crunches.
Perfect Tool for the Wayfaring Travelers
Getting away from the daily grind is important to do every now and then. But packing dumbbells in your suitcase isn’t always feasible. And that affordably priced hotel or AirBnB you rented may not have the luxury of gym equipment. You could take some more easily packed training tools with you or you could use the perfect travel companion: a pair of dice.
Under the (Glute) Bridge
With no access to a gym, this means you’ll be left with bodyweight exercises only. Unlike resistance based exercises, to make your workout more fun (and challenging) with bodyweight, you’ll need to pick three exercises instead of two.
Here’re a few examples of what a bodyweight workout with dice might look like:
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Bulgarian Split Squats
OR (for an extreme challenge)
Single Leg Glute Bridges
Now, using the dice concept, let’s say you roll a 2 and a 4, then you perform 8 reps of each exercise. Roll two 5’s and you perform 25 reps. With bodyweight, however, you’ll be performing straight reps instead of breaking it into sets.
Now that you have the reps you need to perform, roll the dice once again as you did above. But here’s where it gets fun. You’ll be making one small tweak here.
Instead of rolling the dice to determine your rest periods, you’ll be rolling the dice to determine the number of rounds you’ll complete. On the first two rolls, lady luck decided you have to perform 8 reps of each exercise. Now, roll only one die to determine the number of rounds you perform.
Keep your rest periods between rounds at 30 to 60 seconds.
You’re on vacation which means you’re going to be enjoying a few more drinks than normal. Obviously, you want to avoid any fat gain while drinking, so if you’re stuck with only bodyweight routines, make sure to pick a minimum of 6 exercises (grouped in 3’s) to perform for your workout.
Roll Your Way to a More Fun Workout
Why do people love to gamble? Because there’s an exhilaration in the hopeful euphoria that a game of chance provides. And if you’re looking for a way to make your workout more fun, do what gamblers do and roll some dice to add mystery and intrigue to your workout.
You don’t need to take new classes or do something crazy to make your workout more fun. Sometimes it’s the little things that make life better. And in this case, it’s a pair of dusty ole Monopoly dice that can help you reinvigorate your time at the gym and make your workout more fun than ever before.