When it comes to working out, most of us have a reason for doing it. Usually what we choose to do is based on what our goals are, and where we are in our personal journey. There is a huge difference in workouts between someone who is just starting out and someone who is a competitive lifter. Let's take a walk through our phases of lifting, or what “grade” of school each belongs to, 'cause just like school, the higher the grade, the more challenging work needs to be done!
When you first start working out, chances are you are coming from your couch and you just want to “move more.” You could literally do anything in terms of exercise and it will yield results. Much like elementary school. Your first few years of learning is where the basics come from. This is where you are learning to just move. Weights may or may not be on your radar yet, but walking more, running, exercise videos, gym classes, etc. Anything you decide to do, will give you results for your work. This is referred to as “newbie gains.” You are only ever a newbie once, so this is a time to take advantage of this first year or so just doing anything and everything. Eventually, all good things come to an end and after a year or so, these gains will be hard to come by.
The results from your first year or so of lifting have stopped occurring. Now its time to apply the knowledge you have and start challenging the body. Your workouts should be strategic choices, based on your goals. In the newbie phase you could do anything and get results, but in a growth phase you have to start incorporating things you may not like in order to get results. What was once tough before, now becomes easy to do. Maybe you could only do 2 pushups and now you can do 15. You need to think of ways to add resistance to that move in order to get results. When you began, walking a mile might be enough of a challenge, but as we grow, that mile turns into five, then 10. This is where changing steady state activities to something like HIIT comes into play.
Lastly, challenging the body to do things it hasn't done will be the final phase, and the one where all seasoned vets end up living in. This is where we have to constantly challenge ourselves to move differently, lift heavier, build endurance, strength, flexibility, and evolve through each new workout. Even with an activity like lifting, the challenge will be to lift heavier, or increase time under tension. When a 200lb squat becomes too easy, the challenge will be to increase the weight. This is also where your goals come into play more. If your goal is fat loss, then your workouts will be tailored differently than if your goal was strength based. Over time, your resistance will change, so you need to adapt the numbers to constantly challenge your body.
It is important to continue do things you like doing. Those type of activities help aid in stress relief and relaxation more than getting results. But if you aren't willing to challenge yourself, then you will constantly spin your wheels over and over again.