How To Reach The Next Level In Fitness
Going to the next level in any fitness endeavor takes pushing ourselves past a point of comfort. Some people are quite comfortable with being uncomfortable, while others struggle pushing across a certain threshold. I want to be careful and not say “no pain, no gain” and I am being very careful not to use the word pain in this article. Exercisers are advised that if they are in actual PAIN to back off whatever they are doing. However, there is a difference between the burn of athletic effort and pain. Knowing the difference is important.
What does it take to push past the point of wanting to quit? How can you have the grit to finish what you started? Fitness progress has much to do with consistency of effort and simply doing what you said you were going to do. There are some strategies you can employ to complete your effort and reach your fitness goals.
Having a great workout or training partner is the number one strategy for completing your effort with the same or greater intensity than you started. I used to tell my clients that they just need to find somebody to workout with, however, sometimes this can backfire. The trick is to find someone who is not going to sleep through their alarm, bail out half way through the workout or suggest a trip to the taco stand instead of a workout. On the other hand, a partner who is much more advanced may push you to the point of injury or overtraining. So be picky and find somebody who will help push you when you want to quit, but will not leave you so exhausted you must take the day off work.
Along the same lines of the first suggestion is to find a group that focuses on your sport or area of interest. This could be a running, cycling or group exercise group. Groups foster a sense of community and the feeling that “we are all in this together,” along with a healthy dose of peer pressure. In a group setting, we do not want to be the person who stops.
When the feeling sets in that you want to stop, ask yourself the simple question of “why do I want to quit?” Usually the answer will not be a very good one unless it is “I am in pain.” If the end is very close, use self-talk to realize that the finish is soon and that you will feel accomplished if you do the whole thing. Reminding ourselves that new fitness levels are achieved at the point of discomfort. If the end is not soon, ask yourself if you started too fast or picked up too much weight. Would you be able to finish if you backed off a bit?
Use heart rate training to motivate you. Are you training in the appropriate zones for the type of exercise you are doing today? If you quit now will you hit the targeted number of minutes in the zone? You can see my articles about Heart Rate Training farther on down this page.
Next level fitness goals are achieved by being uncomfortable. Learn to embrace these moments and enjoy the endorphins afterward!