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?
Did this workout the other day and I must say…It was fabulous!
It uses one of my favorite moves the Barbell Hip Thruster. One tip though before you do thrusters…WRAP THE BAR WITH LOTS OF PADDING! haha
The Posterior Chain Pyramid
Roll out and stretch:
Band walks or any quadruped moves, but make sure your glutes are feeling warm before you start the workout.
Start with one rep of each exercise. The next round you do 2 reps…then 3…then 4…Up to 10 of each and then back down to 1. That means you are doing 100 reps of each exercise by the end of the workout. Use a challenging weight, knowing you will be doing 100 reps in total…That is LOTS of volume.
Also, rest only as needed but keep trying to move from one exercise to the next.
Roll out and stretch:
This is serious glute destruction. If you haven’t done high volume workouts before, don’t go as heavy. Pick a variation and weight that forces you to work but not have to spend lots of time resting.
You can either choose to finish the pyramid no matter how long it takes you or you can set a timer for 45 minutes and see how far you get in that time and try to improve from week to week.
If you feel your low back working and not your glutes, regress the moves and perform a core and/or glute activation exercise. You may also want to roll out.
Your low back shouldn’t be taking over when doing these moves.
What’s your favorite glute workout? Do you enjoy pyramids?
I get asked diet and exercise questions all day, every day…And I love it.
And what I’ve seen with these questions is that we love to overcomplicate things and focus on the details when the overall picture is still fuzzy and incomplete.
It is almost easier for us to hone in on one piece of the puzzle instead of first outlining all the basics.
We skip starting with the two most important rules and jump right into micromanaging a few very specific things.
I think we do this because it is EASY.
It is easier to focus on a few little details than it is to get the big picture in order.
For some reason it is easier to make dieting and exercising overly complicated than it is to focus on the basics.
Why this is the case?
Honestly I have no idea. It baffles me.
Because the truth of the matter is – being healthy is pretty simple.
But most likely we get stuck on the details because we want a quick fix. A simply fix. Or maybe it is because we want something to blame when we lose motivation and fail to reach our goals.
No matter what the reasoning is…We need to stop doing it.
Because really there are only two things out there you need to do to be healthy:
1. Eat whole natural foods.
2. BE ACTIVE.
Yup…two things. And really two very easy things.
You don’t need to starve yourself or deprive yourself. And you don’t need to spend hours in the gym.
You just need to eat whole natural foods and move around!
You don’t need to worry about macros, or types of protein or meal timing if your basic diet isn’t even in line.
Start with a focus on whole natural foods and then hash out the details.
Seriously….you aren’t going to draw a face starting with detailing out the nostril before you even know where the nostril fits on the face are you!?! I mean…I’m not artist but that just seems ridiculous!
Same goes for exercise. People claim all they don’t have time to workout, but what they are really saying is “I don’t have time to spend hours in the gym like it seems I need to do to get into shape.”
And maybe that is simply their excuse to not workout because they don’t want to.
Because it is simply not the case.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym or even go to a gym to be healthy.
You just need to be active!
Heck if you even get up and stretch and move around for 5 minutes every hour or so you are off to a good start! (Try these 10 Desk Exercises!)
If you even take your puppy for a walk in the mornings and afternoons, you are being more active than most.
Just first get moving than improve your activity so that it is helping you to reach your specific goals.
Don’t feel you have to jump right into an hour-long workout 6 days a week if you aren’t even currently moving for at least 15 minutes every day!
STOP OVERCOMPLICATING THINGS AND MAKING EXCUSES!
Start with the basics…Create an outline, a solid foundation and then, once that becomes habit, start working on the details.
I’ve had to deal with this a lot as a trainer…I’ve had to deal with seeing the potential in someone, in investing a ton of time and energy into helping them succeed, only to see them fail because they didn’t truly want it for themselves.
Because no matter how hard I encourage, how many of the tools I give them, success boils down to one thing – How bad do YOU want it for YOURSELF?
Are you ready to take responsibility for your actions and make things happen?
Because no one else can want it for you. No one else can get you there.
No one else can help you stay on track or cause you to fall off.
You are completely in control whether or not you believe it…whether or not you want to take responsibility for the fact that only you can want and achieve your goals.
Taking responsibility is knowing that whether you succeed or fail is ALL UP TO YOU.
But it is hard to take responsibility because that means it is your fault if you fail.
It is way easier to blame external factors and make up excuses than it is to take responsibility and work hard for results.
It is way easier not to hold yourself accountable and to believe that things weren’t within your control.
The simple truth though is – YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR FATE.
Yea…Shit happens…But if you want something, you will find a way. If you fail, you will hold yourself accountable, take a look at your actions and make changes.
Because even though you can’t control everything or even plan for half of the stuff that happens, you can take responsibility for your actions and your reactions to life.
You can hold yourself responsible for how you handle situations and pick yourself up after you fall.
Success isn’t about perfection. It is about learning and growing and constantly improving. But to learn, grow and improve, you must believe you are in control. You must hold yourself accountable for the actions you take and the results, both good and bad, that occur.
Only you can truly make things happen for yourself.
It isn’t luck that makes people successful…It is freaking hard work and taking responsibility for their lives that makes them successful.
As they say….
I feel that often Tabata style workouts are overused. And people string like 20 exercise together using the intervals and overdo it.
HOWEVER, occasionally, I think Tabata can be integrated into your training routine.
For instance, yesterday I added in a Tabata style workout to force failure and burnout.
It was a short quick workout, but boy was it a doozey. Not every workout has to be an hour to get results.
Actually as I’ve said before, often shorter workouts get you way better results than spending hours in the gym.
If you are interested in a full-body burn out Tabata Workout, try the one below!
Tabata Time Workout
Set a timer for 8 rounds of 20 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest. Complete 8 rounds of those intervals on each exercise before moving on. Rest 1-2 minutes between exercises.
Make sure to complete as many reps in the 20 second intervals as possible. You do not get as much benefit from this workout if you rest during the work intervals. It is better to keep regress the move than to rest. It is all about doing as many repetitions as possible in the time allotted even if all you can do at the end is push ups standing against the wall.
The point is to reach failure and keep going!
20 seconds Push Ups
10 seconds Rest
1-2 minutes Rest
20 seconds Jump Squats
10 seconds Rest
1-2 minutes Rest
20 seconds Alternating Overhead Dumbbell Presses
10 seconds Rest
1-2 minutes Rest
20 seconds Rowing
10 seconds Rest
1-2 minutes Rest
20 seconds Balance Crunches
10 seconds Rest
Walk around and roll out and cool down.
As you fatigue, regress each movement so that you can keep moving the entire time. If you stop moving during the 20 second work intervals, you aren’t going to get as much out of the workout!