Friday, December 4, 2009

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

I’ll admit, it does take effort to make exercise a priority. It’s so easy to come up with excuses and reasons to skip a workout. Even I have days when I want nothing more than to go home and just sit. However, when it becomes part of your routine, it’s easier to follow through. It’s just part of your day like getting up, going to work. In fact, if you do go home and just sit, you feel like something is amiss. This isn’t just me saying this as some crazy workout fool, a fellow blogging pal and Cathlete brought up the same feeling in a recent post “My mood today…” Of course, she’s a workout maniac too, so maybe you should just stop reading now…

It’s perfectly fine to take a rest day. We all need it to properly recover. Especially when you’re working hard. It’s important to listen to your body in order to prevent injuries as well. But don’t forget that you took that unscheduled rest day. Build the missed workout back into your schedule. So again, take the needed rest days and reward your body for hard work. But what if you’re hardly working? What do I even mean by that? It’s not that you’re not putting forth any effort at all; it’s just that you’re not giving it your all. You’re shortchanging your workouts and yourself really.

Think about it. You’ve taken the time to get to the gym (even if it’s your home gym) or get dressed for a run. You’ve blocked off the time. But do you give it your all? If you don’t, you’re really only cheating yourself. You can make any workout harder or easier. And sometimes it’s definitely tempting to take the path of least resistance. You can choose to use 8 lb dumbbells rather than the 10 lb dumbbells. You can do 12 reps rather than push out 14. You can pretend to increase the tension on your spin bike or only opt for one riser during a step aerobics class.

My question is this: Why would you cheat yourself (unless, of course, these are your current limits)? Yes, you’ll still see results. You’re still getting in your cardio, and you’re still lifting the weights. But your results won’t be nearly as substantial, nor will they come as quickly. Have you ever wondered why you can’t seem to lose any more weight even though you’re hitting the treadmill or aerobic classes 5 and 6 days a week? Maybe it’s time to stop and reevaluate. Be honest with yourself. Are you working hard or hardly working?

In spin class the other day, the instructor had us doing a 5-minute climb. Near the end I could barely push the pedals, yet the girl next to me was still trucking along. I started thinking maybe I was just a weakling, then I realized, no, she’s just not cranking up the tension with the rest of us. Now, I am not superhuman mind you. I have taken the “hardly working” route myself. I have shortchanged myself with weights because I didn’t believe I could lift heavier. I just lifted enough to cause a burn, but never hit failure. However, if there is one thing I learned from doing Cathe Friedrich’s STS Program is that it is OK to hit failure. You need to push yourself in order to get the results you really want. A forum friend of mine has this quote in her signature, and it’s so true: "Nothing that matters comes easy, Nothing that comes easy ever really matters..."

No, exercise isn’t easy. Getting up in the morning isn’t always easy either. It’s something you do though. And if you’re going to take the time to do it, then do it well. Give it your all. You may surprise yourself in more ways than one!

What is it that you do to push a workout? Lately, I've been adding pushups after abs and extra calf work after plyo legs. Share your "working hard" tips!