Animal behavior can be a funny thing.  Take my dog for example.  If he hears the word “ball” or “run” he thinks he is getting to go outside to play.  As soon as he hears either of those words he jumps up, gets a ton of energy and begins to whimper from excitement.  Every single time it’s the exact same thing.

Here’s another example.  In the mornings I have a routine.  It’s pretty much the same every morning.  The last thing I do to get ready is “comb” my hair.  This involves me putting some kind of goopy stuff in my hair to make it stand up.  (Apparently I still think I’m 16.)  After this, I turn on the water to rinse that stuff off my hands.  As soon as the water comes on, my dog runs to the bathroom door.  He does this because the next thing that I do is feed him.  The water is a cue to him as to what is coming next.  And he does this every single morning.

My dog has become accustomed to the fact that certain things bring certain results.

-He hears “ball”, he gets excited, I go throw the ball for him and he has fun.

-He hears the water run in the mornings, he runs to the bathroom door, he gets fed.

This is pure speculation, but my guess is that if I changed up my morning routine so would his behaviors.  If I started feeding him first thing in the morning he would probably begin to expect food as soon as my alarm went off.  Or if for some reason I decided to do Jumping Jacks every morning and fed him immediately afterwards, he would start to get excited as soon as I started doing them.

In other words, he would catch on to the fact that the results (being fed) were no longer brought about by the same actions (the water running, him running to the bathroom door).  And he would figure out that it takes new actions to bring about the results he wants.  I mean how crazy would it be if he kept running to the bathroom door expecting to be fed when that hadn’t been working for months?

The trouble is, this is what people do.  They come to the gym, day in, day out and do the exact same things over and over and over.  Same lifts.  Same number of sets.  Same number of reps.  Same weights.  And then they scratch their heads, wondering why they aren’t seeing the results they did when they first started.  This is no joke-I can literally predict what some people will do in the gym.  The reason for this is that I’ve seen them do the same things week after week, month after month, and I can literally guess what they will do next.  It’s pretty funny…and pretty sad.

Have you fallen in a rut?  Are you finding yourself doing the same thing month after month with no results?  If so, maybe it’s time to shake things up.  Maybe you should learn to deadlift.  Maybe you should prepare for a 10K run.  Maybe you should take a Yoga class and focus on getting more flexible and learn to meditate.  Maybe you should stop focusing on losing fat for a bit and focus on getting stronger.  (You’ll probably still lose fat doing this…just saying.)  You could even do something simple like single arm rows instead of double arm ones, or spiderman push ups instead of bench press.

If you’re not seeing progress, stop expecting the same actions to bring new results.  After all, you don’t want to be outsmarted by a dog do you?