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Accepting The Fitness Challenge

Some of us are aerobics nuts, some weightlifters or BBs, but every one of us wants to see our bodies, minds, and spirits improve. In the first section of these articles, I talked about challenging ourselves. Let's examine how we might do that...

I can't count how many aerobics classes I've attended as a participant, where the folks were using teensy, ineffective weights. "Toning", was what they called it. "Wasting time" is what it really is, for most of us. Obviously, if you're injured, or _extremely_ un-fit, any weight at all is going to do more for you than none. But here, I'm speaking to the vast majority of folks, who are quite capable of picking up a gallon of milk (about 8 pounds), carrying one or two bags of groceries to the car (15 or 20 pounds, usually), and generally doing all the every-day weight-lifting tasks we do without even _thinking_ about the weight involved. But, show 'em a weight rack, and they go right for the 1-to-3-pounders, and complain if you try to get 'em to use 5's!

Here's a rule-of-thumb I use in my aerobics classes: If you don't begin to fatigue within 20 reps with a given weight, it's just too light for the exercise you're doing. I ask my folks to use "challenging" weights. That means weights which actually make them _tired_ to curl, lift, kickback, etc... and for most people, that means weights which _start_ at around 5 pounds. Try this: Grab a gallon of milk and pour a glass, then put the gallon back into the fridge. Are your arms tired? No? Then what the heck are you doing using 3-pound weights for biceps curls, hmmmmm?

A simple one:  Can I even do this?  And the answer is often "yes!"  But first, you have to try it!  So we need to try new things.  Some of the time, we'll fail, but if we keep trying, we find that challenge we can meet, and, eventually, best, so we can go on to the next challenge.  But first, we have to accept!

Challenging Doesn't Mean... 

Don't make it impossible for yourself.  That's not what this is about.  It's about finding the barely do-able, and doing it!

 If you're hurting yourself, you won't want to repeat the experience.  If you hurt yourself sufficiently, you won't be able to repeat the experience.  Discomfort sometimes, like "muscle burn"?  That's okay.  A little DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) can tell us we've given our muscles a convincing argument for improving.  But actual pain?  No way!

The Positive Side of Challenge...
Results.  In fact, the tougher the challenge, within reason, the quicker and better the results.  HIT-ers know this -- it's the basis of HIT (High Intensity Training), in fact.  Lifting at or near your maximum, and carrying on to TMF (Total Muscle Failure), will often produce the quickest, most dramatic results.

But TMF isn't what I'm suggesting for most of you.  In fact, if you wish to pursue that course, you need to do so under the watchful eye of a Certified Personal Trainer who is familiar with the process.  What I suggest to you, is to use the concept of working at or near your personal max, in your daily workout.  Make yourself tired, and you'll get those results!

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