Work Harder – Get Stronger

it never gets easier

A friend posted this on my wall today. I love this quote! And yet, “It never gets easier” can sound intimidating and depressing in the wrong context. We want it to get easier, right? That means we’re getting more fit? Yes and No.

“It never gets easier” means that as you adapt to your training, as you get stronger and have more endurance, your level of your workouts get harder. When you’re a beginner, or you’re unconditioned, even the most basic exercises might feel challenging. That’s ok – nowhere to go but up, baby!

But suddenly, those basic exercises aren’t very challenging anymore. Your body adapted – YAY! But now, in order to continue progressing, you must change up your workout, and more than likely increase the difficulty.

And therefore, the workouts are still challenging but you get stronger and can do harder exercises, lift more weight, do more reps, run longer, run faster, and jump higher. It’s such an awesome feeling!

Stand tall, gaze over the horizon, hands on hips, and repeat after me: “This is Fit.”

Pass me my superhero cape!

I had been training a woman for about a year when she burst into tears during a training session. Shocked, I asked what was wrong.

She said, “I just thought at some point it would get easier.” She had lost over 100lbs, had gotten MUCH stronger, could do FAR more complex and challenging exercises, but she thought that at some point she’d walk in and breeze through the workouts I planned for her.

But….  the workouts I planned for her got progressively more difficult – to match her current fitness level!

We looked back at the first few workouts she’d done with me. The workouts contained no more than 6 very basic exercises, and she could only use very light weights. The day she burst into tears? She was doing exercises at my Quickie Workout level – and y’all know those are no joke! – AND doing intense 2-4 minute cardio bursts throughout each workout!

When we put those workouts side by side, one from the beginning and one current workout, she saw just how far she’d come, and saw the stunning contrast right there in black and white.

She wiped away her tears and smiled.

Side Note: That’s why I keep every workout every client does, and why you should keep records too!

There are many fitness quotes that make the rounds, and one of them is along the lines of “If it’s easy, you’re not doing it right.”

There’s nothing wrong with a light workout (especially if you push really hard in most workouts), and you know I’m all about “any movement is better than no movement” and I want you to “be your own kind of fit,” but if you are truly serious about progressing, there’s a lot of truth in that quote.

When measuring intensity, I use several guidelines. You know you’re pushing yourself when:

  • The assigned exercises are doable, but barely – they’re almost out of reach
  • The last few reps of a set should be really challenging. If you can complete a set with no problem, you can probably increase the amount of resistance, or do a harder variation, or squeeze more reps into the interval.
  • You are unable to maintain a conversation. During light and moderate parts of your workout, you might be out of breath but you can still chat with your friend. During high-intensity parts, you’re working hard enough when you cannot chat.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being sitting on your bum reading this article, you feel you’re at an 8 or 9.
  • You do more reps, lift heavier weights, or go longer than before.

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So the next time you feel frustrated that exercise still doesn’t feel easy, take a look back and see how far you’ve come. Work to push your own tolerance threshold. Squeeze in one more set, do one more plank, shave just a few seconds off your time. Notice that you can fit a harder workout into a shorter amount of time because you don’t need such long rests between exercises. Notice that activities of daily living are easier – you don’t feel back pain every morning, or you can do those stairs at work without getting out of breath, or you can keep up with your kids at the park without throwing out a hip.

Celebrate every success – big or small – and know that you’re investing in your own future health.

Be your own kind of fit! And now, HiiT this week’s workout and be your own kind of challenged!

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