When did it become “working out?”
That’s a question I frequently ask myself about the mindset behind the average person’s fitness training. It seems like a simple question. But think about it. Working out is simply exercising.
What happened to the days of training with purpose? The days when there was a reason behind why you did each exercise, for how long and for what level of intensity.
Think back to when you were in high school. It wasn’t working out. It was practice. Or more accurately, it was training. You were preparing your body for a very specific endeavor. It might have been to ready yourself for the rigors of a soccer game or a track meet. Maybe it was a basketball game or a swim meet. But you had a specific goal in mind every single time you prepared for that practice.
When did we lose that purpose? And more importantly, what can we do to get it back?
You graduated high school and you went off to college. Maybe you participated in competitive sports at that level, maybe not. But you probably gained access to a fitness center of some kind where everyone began doing essentially the same thing.
Rows of people on treadmills and elliptical machines trudging along through the same routine day in and day out: 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Or perhaps you were the guy in the weight room, three sets on the bench press, three sets of curls, maybe some pull ups. But this isn’t training. This isn’t making you a better athlete and this isn’t a long-term solution. This is simply going through the motions. And this became the norm. It became how the average person “works out.”
If you want real results, you need to start with a goal. Because the fastest way to results is to train with purpose. If you want to be as fit as you were in high school, when ripped abs and the ability to run seemingly for days was the norm, you need to revert back to the mindset that got you there.
Your goal cannot just be to “lose weight” or “tone up.” Those aren’t goals. Those are the byproducts of proper training and hard work.
So choose something to prepare for. An event, a sport, a race. Possibly it’s a triathlon, road race or obstacle race. Maybe you join a team and want to compete at a higher level to contribute to their overall success. Perhaps you choose an adventure, like climbing a mountain, scaling Machu Picchu, even just a backpacking trip that you’ll need to be prepared to spend 12 hours per day on your feet.
Regardless of what you choose, pick something. And maybe even get yourself a coach. Once you do, you can begin to lay out a true plan for how to prepare. Each day as you approach your workout, you’ll know that you have something to train for. It will motivate you, fuel you, keep you honest and keep you focused. You will find a new vigor for training, a reason to keep pushing yourself and the results will come swifter and more continuously.
And when you finally reach that event, that race, that adventure you’ve been preparing for, you will be ready to conquer it. You will have the added motivation to push your hardest and give your best, because you earned it over the previous months. Just like when you were young and you trained day in and day out with a specific goal in mind, once again you will want to get the most out of that time and effort you invested.
Change your mindset. Find a reason, a real reason. And then train with purpose. If you do, you’ll get the results you want. But more importantly, you’ll find the entire process becomes enjoyable and makes more sense. And it may become just a bit more worthwhile.