People exercise for all sorts of reasons. Some use physical activity as a tool for preventing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Others like to workout because of the energy boost they get that helps them achieve more throughout the day. An individual’s specific motivation is not necessarily the key to faithfully sticking with an exercise program, but it’s impossible not to have a motive.
It would help to know “why” you exercise. A surprising number of clients don’t know, actually.
All too often, exercisers focus their energy on the “how.” Questions swirl through their minds as they vaguely imagine finding the magic elixir to satisfy half-understood desires. “How do I get in shape?” “How do I lose body fat?” “How can I get stronger?”
As someone who has spent the better part of his life helping people understand the “how,” I’ve realized that the real key to success lies with the “why” in terms of exercise motivation.
Listen, everyone wants to be in better shape, have perfect health reports during their annual checkup and enjoy endless energy levels well into their golden years. That’s not the kind of “why” I’m referring to.
Rather, I think it’s critically important that each person conducts a self-analysis at least once a year to establish (or re-establish) their “why.” Here’s the reason: Focusing too much on the “how” (numbers of reps, numbers of miles, etc.) will not get you out of bed in the morning.
The “why” will get you out of sweatpants and into the gym during a snowstorm. It’s the overriding reason that being a physically active person is important to you, and it matters to you alone.
Maybe you had family members who struggled with heart disease, and you’re determined not to let that cycle continue in your family. Maybe you’re focused on setting a good example for your children. Whatever that “why” is, find it — and latch on to it.
Once people’s real intrinsic motivation has been established, they are so much more resilient in the face of obstacles. Bad weather, soreness and other hurdles are easily overcome by someone who is truly focused on achievement based on a meaningful source of motivation.
Of course, maintaining a good exercise variety helps to keep workouts interesting and stimulating. This week’s exercise presents a nice variation for chest/core work, and the 4 Corner Pushup is appropriate for nearly all fitness levels.
1. Place a medicine ball on the floor and get into the “up” phase of a pushup with your right hand on the ball and left hand on the floor.
2. Perform five pushups in this position.
3. Switch hands so that the left hand is on the ball. Again, perform five pushups.
4. Adjust your body so that the right foot is on top of the ball. Do five more pushups.
5. Finally, place the left foot on top of the ball and perform your final set of five pushups.
The 4 Corner Pushup is a simple yet effective method for challenging the upper body and core using a medicine ball, which is almost always provided today in the places we go to exercise. It’s just enough of a change to keep the user stimulated without creating too much difficulty.
Let’s give this one a shot and remember to locate your “why” before Old Man Winter starts making it harder and harder to want to get out of bed. 😉
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master’s in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Style on 10/28/2019