Despite being told hundreds of thousands of times, and our common sense yelling at us that there is no magic pill, we still hold out hope. We still believe that someone out there just doesn’t have to do anything and they look, feel and live the life of their dreams without ever having to suffer or sweat or work for it.
And I’m sorry but that’s just ridiculous.
At some time, in some way, everyone has had to work and sweat for their success. At some point they’ve had to sacrifice (even if they somewhat enjoy the sacrifice) and put long-term goals ahead of instant gratification and enjoyment.
Because the simple fact is that success means HARD WORK. It does mean some sacrifice. It does mean sometimes thinking long-term instead of simply living in the moment.
And it also means taking risks that could lead to failure. Failures that make you then reassess and adapt. That test your drive and dedication.
Failures that can make you better if you pick yourself back up and again…WORK HARD.
I know we’ve all seen the fitspo that say:
And honestly…It’s so true!
Often when we see people enjoying the fruits of their labors, we don’t think about all the work they had to put in to get there. We just see them enjoying their success and then assume it was easy for them.
But trust me. They worked. And they may not remember all of the sacrifices, and they may even romanticize the journey now that it is done, but they freaking worked hard.
Because achieving your goals really does means working hard. There is no magic pill. There really is no short cut. There really is no one that is just so lucky to have everything come easily to them.
So stop spending a lot of time and energy looking for a short cut. Apply that time and energy toward something beneficial…Like actually WORKING toward your goals.
And can I also say…This goes hand in hand with MAKING TIME FOR YOUR GOALS.
Let’s face it…There is never enough time in the day. But if you want something bad enough, you will make time. You will make it a priority.
So stop making excuses and searching for something that doesn’t exist. Instead get started working toward your goals before the New Year. Why not go into this New Year already moving forward? Why not WORK HARD and MAKE TIME for what you want!?!
Because if you want to succeed, if you want to make this next year an even better one, you will have to find the time to work hard at your goals. No Ifs, Ands or Butts about it!
I consider myself very lucky to get to work with people with all different fitness levels, experiences and goals. Because of the online training I do, I also get to work with people in many different locations with access to different equipment than I may have in my gym.
Therefore I constantly have to think of new ways to work the body and challenge people.
And that is AMAZING. Because all too often we get stuck doing things ONE WAY.
Same exercises. Same way of making them harder. Same rep ranges. Same set ranges. Same rest. Same tempos. Same same same same same!
And that isn’t a bad thing. You don’t have to go crazy or try every newfangled thing that comes out.
But as trainers, we constantly have to be thinking and adjusting to make things work for all sorts of people in all sorts of situations. (Or if you travel a lot and work out in different places or with limited equipment this may just help you too.)
Which is why I was excited when I got into a discussion with one of the trainers I mentor about making glute bridges more challenging when she only has very light weights.
So I asked her…How can you make the glute bridge more challenging if the weight you have is no longer difficult for the client?
She looked at me and said, “Add more reps?”
And I agreed that was potentially an option. Increasing or reducing the volume is a valid way to mix up workouts.
But I said, “What else?”
I knew she knew more options, but so often we get stuck thinking about the problem in the same way….Which is exactly what happened to this bright and wonderful trainer.
She was so used to having a full gym with plenty of weights to make her weighted glute bridges more challenging that she didn’t really think about how else to progress the movement.
So I told her to think about different variations of the bridge to make the light weight or the basic bridge more challenging for her client…
Here is the list we then came up with to make a Weighted Glute Bridge (with too light a weight or even no weight) more challenging:
- Single leg without weight from the ground.
- Single leg with the weight.
- Single leg without the weight off the box.
- Thruster with your back on the box.
- Thruster with weight.
- Thruster, single leg without weight.
- Thruster, single leg with weight
- Thruster with feet raised.
- Thruster, single leg with feet raised.
- Thruster with feet raised with weight
- Thruster, single leg with feet raised with weight (although being very careful)
- Change up tempo.
- Slow down the bridge up.
- Slow down the hold at the top.
- Slow down the lower back down.
- Slow down all three pieces. Or just one or two. Or use different tempos on each. Maybe do explosive up, hold at the top and slow down.
- Pulse at the top or bridge up, lower halfway down, then back up then all the way down.
- Try shorter rest between sets so she can’t fully recover and the weight is more challenging.
- Place her feet on an unstable surface.
- Add in other equipment…If you have towels or sliders, try using those for a bridge and curl with or without the weight…
And we could have gone on. (For instance, we could have even added in all the other bridge variations out there….)
And while some of those had weight, they were meant to use the weight she had on hand. They were variations she could do with the client based on what she had access to.
She didn’t need to skip the exercise, especially since glute bridges are ESSENTIAL. She just had to find another way to make it challenging without our normal go to of “add more weight.”
Same goes for so many of the basic moves we do. All too often we think “add weight” or “do more.” But those aren’t the only ways to add variety to our workouts or challenge ourselves…Especially when we don’t have more time or access to weights.
Don’t have heavy weights but love deadlifts? Try a single leg deadlift! You will need lighter weights than with a bilateral movement.
Weights still too light? Or maybe you don’t have any weights at all. SLOW DOWN THE TEMPO. Try hinging over toward the ground for a five count and then quickly coming back to the top. OR try a slow lower over and then an explosive movement back up with even a jump off the ground as you come back up (aka a single deadlift hop).
OR try only loading down one side to make the movement more unstable.
Or try doing as many reps as possible in a set amount of time and then rest very briefly before repeating. Shorting the rest period gives muscles less time to recover meaning they are already fatigued when we begin again….Which can be good if we aren’t going for a one rep max or even trying to increase weight each round.
Sometimes even how you pair exercises together can make an easier exercise more challenging because you can then use that movement as a way to “burn out” the muscle after it is already fatigued.
Also, traditional weights aren’t the only pieces of equipment that make exercises more challenging. A homemade slosh pipe or even a milk jug filled with water can be great unstable weights.
Or if you are traveling and need a way to make exercises more challenging (with something you can fit in your suitcase), suspension trainers, resistance bands, mini bands, sliders/towels/valslides are all easy transportable pieces of equipment to make exercises more challenging.
Anyway, the point is, you don’t need a barbell or dumbbells to make exercises more challenging. Heck, you don’t even need equipment truly (although it can make things more fun).
All you need to do is BE CREATIVE! Explore other options. Change up other exercise variables…that is besides just reps or weights!
So just to catch you up on some of the posts from Redefining Strength….
1. Burpees – We all love to hate them, but they are a great full-body cardio exercise you can do anywhere. Here are 10 Burpee Variations to try. And if you need a really quick workout option, try to do 50 burpees as fast as you can. Now there is a great workout in under 5 minutes!
2. Travel Workouts – Staying in shape while traveling can be difficult, especially when you are busy and don’t have access to the equipment you usually use. That is why it is important to have equipment you can easily bring with you and use in your hotel room. Here are three great tools, 30 exercises and a quick 15-minute workout to help you stay in shape while traveling!
3. The Kettlebell Swing – Crossfit has made the American Swing super popular. But personal I HATE the American Swing. I think it is pointless and dangerous and I will never teach it. Sorry Crossfit. You have many good points but the American Swing is not one of them.
So if you want a beneficial kettlebell swing exercise to truly target your glutes, you need to learn the traditional swing. This hip hinge movement is one of the best to get your glutes activated and help you develop strength and power. Check out this post on how to do the kettlebell swing and basic variations.
4. WORK YOUR CORE - And no…I don’t mean do crunches. I wrote two different posts on core exercises using two different pieces of equipment – the suspension trainer and the sandbag – because working your core is important to become stronger, faster and prevent/alleviate pain and injury.
However, working your core isn’t as simple as doing crunches – it means working everything from your shoulders to your knees down your frontside AND your backside.
That is why these exercises are so wonderful.
What are your favorite burpee variations and core exercises? Are you a fan of the American Swing? How do you stay in shape while traveling?
Around this time of year all our good intentions are forgotten and healthy eating is abandoned.
There is candy every where. Treats everywhere. Parties all the time.
And goals are forgotten because it just doesn’t seem possible to eat well with all the temptations around.
But it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Both reaching your goals and indulging can coexist.
You just have to find balance.
I tell people all the time PLAN AHEAD. And that is simply what you need to do around this time of year.
We all know that candy will be everywhere. That baked goods will be given to us on a daily basis.
But that doesn’t mean we have to indulge in every single thing. However, it also doesn’t mean we have to completely resist things that we love.
It is all about finding a balance and having a plan of action to know how and when to resist or indulge.
Maybe treating yourself after lunch to one of those pieces of candy you have to stare at all day every day, helps you stay on track. Or maybe you know that eating one will lead to an all out binge so you resist knowing you would rather have a piece of pumpkin pie later.
The point is that you need to plan, to think ahead so that you don’t completely destroy all the hard work you’ve put in for months yet you also don’t deprive yourself so much that either you can’t enjoy parties or you end up binging because you are so miserable.
There is no one right answer to find balance.
But it does really help to know how you are going to handle the situation. To plan. And to TRACK.
If you keep a food log, you know what you consume each day and can see how it all adds up. For many of my clients, they are following macro guidelines.
And knowing that they may be tempted by candies or cakes, they plan ahead to fit in a treat now and then.
Because eating clean doesn’t mean perfection.
I know I’ve said this a bazillion times but it needs to be repeated. Especially now when often people let one little treat turn into a full on binge, which turns into forgotten goals.
You don’t need to let trying to eat well around the holidays make you feel deprived or stressed. Just find a BALANCE and PLAN AHEAD!
Remember what is important and really decide if you want the candy or if it is just there. Also decide if you will enjoy the treat or just feel guilty.
Because if you are indulging make it count and ENJOY IT!
I’m often asked how you know if you are working hard enough…especially since I tell people who being sore or feeling destroyed after a workout isn’t the best indicator of whether or not you had a great workout.
My answer, “Well it depends on your goals and/or the purpose of the workout!”
Not every workout needs to make you sore for days or leave you feeling like you are going to barf or die.
Working “hard enough” truly means challenging yourself so you can move forward toward your goals.
But if your workouts have no purpose and your goals aren’t clearly outlined, you can never really know if you are working hard enough unless of course you destroy yourself each and every time.
However, destroying yourself doesn’t mean you will necessarily be moving forward toward your goals. Because moving forward means working out SMART.
Because working SMART and working HARD are not the same thing.
You can work hard and get nowhere….
So maybe we shouldn’t be worrying about working hard enough so much as working smart…Which as I said above means having a purpose for your workouts and clearly outlined goals.
It also means TRACKING what you are doing so you can see improvements and progress toward your goals.
For instance, if you want to strengthen your glutes you want to challenge yourself to lift more each and every time. However, if you constantly are doing different exercises, you don’t really know if you are lifting more because each move will require different loads.
And just because you are sore after each glute workout doesn’t mean you are getting stronger.
So in order to really see if you are getting stronger, you need to have a move you can compare – a move you can add a little more weight to each week.
Notice I said a LITTLE MORE. You don’t want to make drastic changes each week because you also need to do a workout that doesn’t make you so sore you can’t do the other workouts you have scheduled for the week.
Basically you need to workout SMART.
It isn’t about pushing your limits every time. It is about creating CHANGE. Because destruction doesn’t guarantee results…Smart progress and change does!
Don’t just throw together workouts that make you work hard! PLAN OUT workouts that make you PROGRESS.
One of my favorite workouts to prove that feeling destroyed at the end isn’t the only measure of how hard you worked is the POWER WORKOUT.
The point of the power workout is to make you more explosive and improve your mind-body connection. Workouts like this make you stronger and help you recruit more muscle fibers faster and more efficiently.
A Power Workout leaves you feeling like you could do more at the end. You work for like 8-12 seconds and then you rest for about 5 times the length of time you worked.
When you rest, you should feel completely ready to go again. And you may even feel ready to go before you start. But you need the rest so you can be just as explosive each round as you were the first time.
Because a Power Workout isn’t about going to failure. It is about being super explosive each and every time. Which means you need to REST.
At the end of the workout, you shouldn’t feel destroyed. But doing this type of workout will create change and help you progress toward your goals.
Because working “hard enough” with a power workout doesn’t mean making yourself barf. It means being as explosive and powerful as you can for the short burst and then completely recovering.
Because working “hard enough” doesn’t really matter in the end if you aren’t moving toward your goals.
Focus on working out SMART.
Focus on creating a PLAN that leads to progress and RESULTS.
So stop asking if you are working out hard enough and focus on working toward your goals!
One of my clients said to me today, “You don’t believe in doing any easy exercises do you?”
Which made me ask, “What do you mean?”
She said, “You know…like curls or any non-complex moves…”
And I had to smile, because, no, I don’t really believe in doing isolation movements very often.
I want to get the most out of the time I have – and to get the most out of a shorter amount of time, you need to do COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.
Honestly I don’t believe you ever need to do isolation exercises unless you are a body builder, fitness model or someone rehabbing an injury.
They simply aren’t that functional. They don’t work numerous muscles at once. They don’t burn as many calories. And generally they are focused on smaller muscles that just simply don’t give you that much bang for your buck or even need to be worked that often or intensely.
That being said, I do believe in isolating your glutes more, but that gives you A LOT of bang for your buck and even when “isolating” your glutes often other muscles in your legs do assist.
I mean think about it….When you work your chest most of the moves also work your triceps and shoulders. So why do tricep extensions when you can work a big muscle group like your chest while ALSO hitting your triceps AND your shoulders?
Or take for instance the push up…You can work your chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, quads and even your glutes WITH ONE MOVE. Would you really rather do a tricep extension and just work your tricep?
Same goes for bicep curls.
Why do bicep curls when you work your biceps with basically every back exercise? And compound back movements like the Inverted Row hit the BIG muscles of your back to also improve your posture and prevent/alleviate neck, shoulder and upper back pain?!?
Hmm just work your biceps or work numerous muscles at once to make lots of muscles stronger while burning more fat and helping to alleviate aches and pains….
Tough decision right?!?
Also…too many people complain they don’t have time to workout.
But it isn’t that they don’t have time to workout, they just don’t have time to do some of the bodybuilding routines shown in some fitness magazines.
When working out you have to consider your goals AND the time you have.
And probably 90% of the time COMPOUND EXERCISES are the answer.
But wait…What if I want to tone this one specific trouble zone?
Uhm…well you can’t spot reduce for one so you would be better off doing a compound exercise that burns more fat and still works the muscle.
Yup…Compound movements are STILL the answer.
Are you using your workout time wisely and doing exercises that will give you the most bang for your buck?
(Another good question to consider when picking compound exercise variations and weights (and a post for another day) is, “Are you getting the most out of your workouts by actually CHALLENGING yourself?”
Recently I’ve seen a ton of crazy hard workouts trainers have given their clients that they themselves could NEVER finish.
And it always irks me.
Because for one, I believe you should never ask someone to do something you can’t do and two, it gives people the perception that if they aren’t absolutely completely destroyed at the end of the workout it wasn’t hard enough (even if that isn’t how the trainer trains him or herself).
I’ve also overheard a lot of people recently preaching different healthy eating strategies when they, themselves, don’t eat clean and follow their own advice.
STOP IT PEOPLE!
Practice what you preach!!!
Especially as trainers we need to practice what we preach.
And that doesn’t mean you have to look a certain way or lift a certain amount to be a good trainer. But it does mean that we shouldn’t ask our clients to do things we can’t and have never done before ourselves.
If you don’t make time for working out with your busy schedule, how can you ask your clients to?
If you don’t make time for meal prep and have never logged your food in a fitness app, how can you ask your clients to?
You can’t. Because you don’t know how difficult it is to do those things or how to overcome the excuses.
You don’t know what it truly takes so how can you help them stay motivated and moving forward.
Sure…You can say the things you’ve read, but you’ve never experienced what they are going through.
Same goes for the workouts we write up.
Yes, we know what muscles are being worked by an exercise. Yes we know reps and sets and rest periods and how they all technically affect us.
But have you ever realized that while certain exercises seem like a good idea together, they end up being complete murder…Even though TECHNICALLY they fit the “mold” or design?
And you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t try them together.
No…You may not be able to try every workout you write up (although it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run through as many as you can), but you should have experienced and experimented enough with different exercises and designs that any routine you throw someones way you know you could complete…Complete at the toughest possible variation.
Ok. So some of you right now may be thinking, but I have some clients that can lift more than me/do more pull ups or push ups.
And I’m not saying that you can’t have them do more challenging variations or lift more weight.
But I do ask you to have challenged yourself as much as they will have to. And to have tried the variations (or even modifications of them) to know how they will affect the person.
We need to practice what we preach.
Because how can you ask someone to do something you wouldn’t or couldn’t do?
I often get asked when and how often people need to do prehab/rehab stuff for aches, pains and even old injuries. They ask how often they need to foam roll, stretch and even do activation exercises.
And my answer….
Before you have pain!
If you’ve had an injury or you know you are prone to aches and pains in certain areas, you need to take care of those areas before pain arises or before you do things that could lead to pain if those areas aren’t loosened and activated.
And if pain has flared up in an areas, you need to be extra diligent to do everything you can to alleviate.
How often you need to do the prehab/rehab will vary. If you stay on top of things, a few minutes each day may suffice.
If you wait till things start to flare up, you may have to spend more time on prehab activities.
But I would like to point out that if you have neck, shoulder or upper back pain from sitting at a desk all day, rolling out for one minute every other day isn’t going to do it.
Just think about how long you sit with poor posture….Does one minute of pain prevention (aka foam rolling, stretching, activation) really seem like it equals the time you sit with poor posture?
Does it really seem like that minute can counteract the 9 hours?
So why do we all expect results when we basically spend only minutes a day doing the right things and hours doing the wrong things?
The thing is we can’t.
While there is no exact amount of time we need to spend doing rehab/prehab exercises and stretches, we do need to consider just how much time we spend each day doing things to counteract all the good we do in the gym.
That one hour each day we spend there with our 5-10 minutes of warm up (foam rolling, stretching and activation) simply isn’t enough.
But that doesn’t mean you need to spend hours each day to see benefit. Five minutes when you wake up, the occasional stretch or rolling at your desk, 5-10 minutes before you workout, a few minutes after your workout and maybe a minute or two before you go to bed.
If you did that every day…WOAH!
At most, what I outlined above, is like 30 minutes out of your day…AT MOST.
And yet we can’t find the time for that?!?
Suffering from pain and injury is our alternative and yet we skip those 30 minutes and wonder why we never get better.
30 MINUTES a day! An excuse to get up and stretch while sitting at our desk all day! Or heck simply a stretch in the doorway when we get up to go the bathroom. (AHEM…Look at all those stretches you can easily do at your desk!)
Or some balancing and leg swings when we brush our teeth to keep our ankles strong.
This is seriously not hard stuff. Shoot it isn’t even as hard as finding 15-30 solid minutes to workout! Almost all of these things can be done while doing something else.
Watching TV? Sit on a ball on the ground to roll out your glutes, hips and low back to get rid of your achy low back!
Simple little prehab/rehab things can go a long way to keeping an area pain and injury-free.
Because even if you did the initial rehab after an injury, you are never done.
You ALWAYS have to take care of that area and make sure to maintain strength in the muscles up and down the kinetic chain from that disruption.
Because every day we do things to create imbalances and potentially upset old aches and pains or create new ones.
So to live pain free…What is a few minutes each day on exercises to keep you balanced?
Are you diligent about doing prehab activities – foam rolling, stretching, activation, balance and stability stuff?
How do you fit those things into your day?
Here are some great tips and exercises to help you prevent and alleviate minor aches and pains:
- 5 Quick Fixes For Wrist and Elbow Pain
- Alleviate Low Back Pain
- The Complete Foam Rolling Video Course and E-Book
NOTE: This is discussing previously rehabbed injuries and minor aches and pains. If you suffer from an injury, make sure to do the physical therapy rehab prescribed to you!
Just wanted to share 5 posts I’ve written over the last month that I feel are super helpful. Enjoy!
1. PULL UPS – Want to do one learn how to do a Pull Up? Try these pull up variations and supplemental exercises!
2. Travel Workouts – When we travel it can be hard to workout. The RipFit Trainer may be a tool you want to get if you are a frequent traveler. Here are 20 great exercises you can do when you travel for a full body workout. You can do them in your hotel room…or even at home!
3. To be healthier, you need to move more during the day. A great way to move more each day is with stretches and exercises you can do at your desk. Try these 10 Desk Exercises.
4. If you are a runner, cycler or simply sit at a desk all day, you may want to try these 10 Lower Body Foam Rolling Moves.
5. The Pelvic Tilt – If you have LOW BACK PAIN, or WANT STRONGER ABS, you need to do the PELVIC TILT! No if, ands or buts about it!
I often roll my eyes when I see quotes like this:
But today it got me to thinking about how much your success is completely and utterly dependent on your MINDSET.
Because if you want something enough, you will find a way…which is what, today, I interpreted the above fitspo to mean.
We make time for things that matter. We make time for things we want.
We prioritize things even when we are busy.
When you say you don’t have time to exercise, time to eat well, you are basically just saying those things aren’t a priority to you.
And honestly, that is your choice. They don’t have to be.
But if you want to make changes, if you want a different result than the one you are currently getting, you need to change your priorities and your mindset.
As Einstein says:
Seems to obvious yet, for some reason, most people do expect different results without changing their behaviors.
And maybe that is because often our diet and exercise programs merely focuses on new behaviors and not changing the mentally and mindset behind our current behaviors.
I’ve said it numerous times before, but I think that exercise can be empowering. I think it can change our mental attitude and make us into stronger, more confident people inside and outside of the gym.
But it isn’t as simple as just lifting weights and BAM! we are more confident.
It is about the positive self-talk we learn to do so that we can lift heavier.
It is about the strength we find because we learn how to mentally push ourselves further.
It is because in the gym we can learn a new mentality IF we take the time and don’t just go through the motions of exercising.
Because it isn’t enough to simply DO something. Mindless action isn’t enough.
You need to be intentional.
And I’m not even talking right now about designing workouts or eating according to your goals.
I’m talking about thinking through things and changing your mindset.
If you haven’t been getting results, you probably really haven’t changed anything. And if you haven’t changed anything it is because mentally nothing has changed.
You probably still have the same mindset.
The thing is, mindset is way harder to change than actions, but to truly change your behaviors in the long run, you need to change your mindset.
That is why you need to take a good look at yourself any time you want to start creating a program to work toward new goals.
Assess what has hindered you getting results before. Was it really the program or the fact that you made excuses?
Honestly….It was probably excuses.
And if it was excuses, what were your common excuses? Stress? Lack of time? Didn’t enjoy it? It was too hard?
Consider those excuses.
Now think of how you are going to OVERCOME them.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Plain and simple.
Did you lack motivation when you got stressed?
Could you then think of something to keep you extra motivated during times of stress?
Maybe a visual would help? Or getting friends involved. Or maybe simply having to log public would hold you accountable.
Or maybe simply it was creating something you could mentally prioritize. Like instead of going to the gym when you are stressed, you can put going for a walk ahead of simply going home and watching TV.
Or maybe you could make 15 minutes of working out at home a priority even if you can’t go to the gym.
The crazy thing is…All of these things will change your behaviors and your mindset.
They will get you moving in the right direction while changing how you prioritize and see things. They will create ways for you to mentally overcome the excuses and change your mindset.
Because success boils down to MINDSET.
You could have the best laid plans, the perfect program out there, and it won’t work if you don’t have the right mindset and really get yourself to truly adhere to it and give it your all.
So if you want to achieve results this week, how are you going to change your mindset?
What keeps you motivated and has helped you prioritize working toward your goals?