Today I worked from home, and I finished my work 30 minutes before the conference call we had to discuss our progress. So what? Well, that meant I could squeeze in a quick 15 minutes down at the gym before I had to be back to collect everyone’s work and compile it into a deck. You may be chuckling to yourself, thinking, “she’s going to spend only 15 minutes at the gym? That’s nothing!” If that’s your thought process, you are sadly missing out on one of the best motivational techniques of all: the short but sweet workout.
I first discovered part of this technique when I discovered how much I hated getting up early in the morning to work out. I would set my alarm for 5:45 so that I could get in an hour long workout before getting ready for work. This was a great idea in theory, but a horrible idea in practice. Rather than getting up when my alarm went off at 5:45, I would hit snooze 6 or 7 times, finally dragging myself out of bed at 6:39 or 6:48 (to save you the math, my snooze cycle is 9 minutes) all groggy and pissed that I had wasted the last hour of sleep by having to continuously hit the alarm clock. I was no more well rested than if I had just gotten up at 5:45, but I just couldn’t make myself get up to work out for an hour.
Eventually, I discovered that if I just set my alarm for 6:36 with the intention of doing one segment of my 8 Minute Fitness DVD before getting ready for work, I actually got up. After all, skipping just one snooze cycle was not a big deal. 9 more minutes of sleep? That’s nothing. I got a greater amount of real sleep by doing this than I got by constantly hitting my snooze alarm, and I realized that an 8 minute workout was better than none at all.
Following this theme, when I had a free 20 minutes today, I threw on my workout clothes and headed down to the gym. I realize this technique is a lot easier with a gym just an elevator ride away, but there are plenty of exercises you can do in your own home if the gym is too far to make the effort for a quick workout. To make the 20 minutes worth it, I decided I was going to go all-out with the workout. I started with 5 minutes on the rowing machine to warm up my arm muscles and get my heart going, but then for each of the machines I used in my weight lifting, I tried to set it one or even two levels harder than I normally do.
I discovered that I could do a lot more than I thought! When I did tricep dips with the little bar that you can stand on to give yourself an assist, I was able to set it to about 10 pounds less assistance than I normally give myself… and then about 15 pounds less for the last set! The same was true for the pullups I do on the same machine, and for the lat pulldowns, and for the bicep curls… etc. Knowing that I only had 10 minutes to lift, it was easy to push myself harder than I’ve done in the past, but it gave me a bit of a kick in the pants. The next time I go work out, I won’t be satisfied trying for the same old levels I’ve been doing – now I know I can go harder.
So if your workout has gotten stale, try a short and sweet workout where you attempt to push each exercise a little harder than you’ve been doing in the past. You never know what your limits are until you try to push them.
How do you push your fitness levels to new heights – have you ever tried something like this? Leave your tips and suggestions in the comments!