I get into a lot of conversations at the gym about various things, fitness goals being the most popular. One thing I hear ad nauseum is this:
“I need to switch it up”.
Automatically, I ask, “why?”
And likewise automatically, the person will respond, “to shock the system. I have plateaued and my routine isn’t as effective anymore”. Many conversations turn out this way.
A similar remark will be something like, “I don’t understand why I am not seeing results. I’m doing everything right”.
Without getting into further mundane details about this person’s history, I simply ask what they’re doing and make some slight suggestions to help out, which they don’t end up taking seriously anyway.
Here’s a news flash. In order to change, you should do something that requires a bit more effort than what you’re currently doing and you should do it often. It’s not the routine, it’s the level of effort. Consistency may be there, sure, with your 2-hour long gym sessions, but the effort is almost non-existent. Talk is cheap, action speaks. After hearing and seeing what routines people are on, I just want to face palm.
All the time I see people, especially women, doing laterals with 2.5 pounds. This will probably work if they’re a 50 pound 11-year old girl, but if they’re a grown woman looking to build shoulders, they need a better plan. What’s worse, they have no clue how to progress. It just breaks my heart.
So imagine the kind of looks I get when I suggest people to do something that pushes them out of their comfort zone on most days. It’s like they’re speaking to an alien.
If you want to become better at something, you must put effort into it and you must do it consistently. No one who got anything worth writing home about achieved it without a high degree of effort and consistency. Even Donald Trump, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, had to fight to keep a top spot. Even Floyd Mayweather, one of the greatest, and richest, boxers of all time, had to fight tooth and nail to harness success.
Now I am no champion. I was not born with great genetics nor was I blessed to have a family who supported athletic endeavors. I was just some average Asian kid who happened to join the military, discovered fitness and nutrition, and decided to help people become healthier and more fit. This is in stark contrast to many fitness professionals who actually do have an athletic background. See, I have something to relate to most people looking to get into better shape: I was once-out-shape and just wanted to be in-shape. This isn’t a story about how I used to be an athlete and fell out of my ways. It is a story about how I was never an athlete and wanted to feel more comfortable in my own clothes. I had massive self-confidence issues. But I didn’t get to where I was by making excuses and partaking in activities that didn’t line up with my goals. I put in the work.
Even now, despite working nearly 90 hours a week, I make time to train. Even though I go to work at 8 and don’t come home until 11 during the weekdays and work 6-8 hours on the weekends, I still make time to train. It’s about doing things that matter (unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to update this blog as much as I’d like). If I find a 30-minute gap between clients, guess what I do? You guessed it, even if you didn’t try. I train. I do some blitz sessions where I would pick a handful of exercises to attack my whole body and a couple of cardio exercises and go to town for those 30-minutes.
But that’s just me. I place my fitness at a higher priority than most people, who prefer to go out and drink and party on weeknights. Nothing against them at all, but that’s them–they do what they do. However, if you’re one of these people yet make excuses as to why you’re not in as good as shape as you want to be, shame on you. This is partly why I get aggravated talking to people about fitness and nutrition: they want to know how to get in shape, but what I say goes in one hear and out the other. Whatevz, yo.
If you can’t do push-ups or pull-ups, yet want to be able to do them one day, what do you think you need to do? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Problem is that people act like the answer is so elusive. Practice them or easier variations, and drill the living sh*t out of them. Don’t say you want to do something but take no steps toward realizing them.
Many times when my clients feel their progress is slowing, they need to make one change first. Put in a bit more effort to what they’re currently doing. I am proud to say that some of my clients are very strong for only being general fitness folks, but as soon as they add in some more purposeful exercise throughout the day, they see better results.
Here’s my message to you:
Stop making lame excuses.
Start doing something that requires effort, that pushes you out of your comfort zone.
Do those things that push you out of your comfort zone consistently, on most days of the week.
Take blitz sessions as an example. As often as possible throughout the day, do some purposeful exercise. If you’re a desk jockey, take 3 extra minutes on your bathroom (or smoke) break and get out of that sedentary funk. Move around a bit. Here’s what I do on a daily basis:
10 second chest stretch in a doorway
10 high-knee marches each leg
12 bodyweight squats
10 split squats
10 mountain climbers
30 second side plank each side
30 second jumping jacks
I do this routine in my dress shirt, trousers, and dress shoes and it takes me about 3 minutes. For those 3-minutes, I am out of my comfort zone, which is the chair situated in front of a piece of crap Dell. Then I go to the bathroom to re-adjust my clothes. Not surprisingly, I feel amazing afterward and my productivity sky-rockets.
This isn’t some sort of revolution or amazing discovery. This is simply doing what you’re designed to do. Moving with effort and consistency.
What kind of results are you seeking? What have you been doing? How are you coming along in your goals? As always, I value your feedback and comments. Fire away.