This is a guest post from Mike at MikedUp Blog, where he writes about fitness, finance, and family. Now, on with the article –
Have you ever walked out of a job interview kicking yourself for not giving the absolute best answer to a question? You’re replaying the moment in your head over and over again and wondering why, “I just work too fast,” was the answer that popped into your head as the interviewer asked, “What is your greatest weakness?”
“Really? That’s just about the most generic answer you could’ve given,” you think to yourself. At that moment you commit to forget about it, move on, and open the door to the building as you step outside and the sunshine hits your face. Then, as if the thought bubble popped up above your head, it comes to you. “I’m not as well versed in X as some of my colleagues, but I’ve taken classes with Y and seminars at Z to help strengthen my knowledge base. These experiences have me well prepared to draw on my work with (insert name of awesome employer here) and contribute toward the success of your team.”
Ten minutes too late. That could’ve been the difference… Maybe you land the job, maybe you don’t but the point is this – if the timing had been different just 10 minutes, you would be in a better position (at least in your mind). Whatever the circumstances, they just weren’t right for your ideal answer to be available to you.
Timing and circumstance aren’t restricted to job interviews, they’re also tied to your fitness.
Here are 6 keys to putting yourself in the best position possible to improve your fitness before you lift a weight or jog a lap:
1) Find out what time of day works best for you
The time of day one exercises has been shown to have significant impacts on performance in athletes of many sports (just do a search on google scholar or your favorite scientific journal’s website). Meaning athletes perform better in the evening, for example, as compared with the morning. The variations can change with different sports, exercises, and athletes.
So, even if you’re not a professional athlete, why not try a morning workout one day if you normally pump iron in the evenings, or get your heart rate up during the lunch hour rather than right after work. If your specific biochemistry and circadian rhythm line up optimally for a 5:00 pm workout you’ll be fighting an uphill battle if you’re always fighting the alarm clock to get up and exercise first thing in the morning.
2) Identify your goals
Are you striving to lose weight, add weight, add muscle, trim fat, improve flexibility, best athletic performance, maintain, …? With each answer comes a different approach to exercise. No option should exclude a specific workout type (lifting, cardio, stretching, yoga, isometric work, etc.) but it would be best to shift focus toward one or a couple exercise types depending on your goals.
For example, someone training for a marathon would most likely want to focus on endurance work but not forget about strength training and flexibility work to keep their muscles strong and to prevent injury. A football player, on the other hand, would want to tailor his program to output optimal performance for a duration of 4-6 seconds over the course of many hours.
If you don’t know where you want to be, it’s much more difficult figuring out how to get there.
3) Know your limits
…So you can smash through them!! Ha. Well I’m only partially kidding here. It’s great to improve rather than stay stagnant, but what I’m talking about is avoiding injury.
Ever go to the gym and see the yolked up guys pushing tons of weight for 1 or 2 repetitions? You see them and think to yourself, “… better add another 10 on each side,” as if you and everyone in the gym – including your own conscience – is judging the 145 pounds you’re about to bench press.
If you don’t have the frame, muscle tone, and experience to deal with the extra weight, don’t do it. It’s tough getting fitter while your sitting on the couch mending a muscle strain, or worse, a tear. Especially if t’s all just because you saw some guy and accepted his silent challenge in a test of manhood.
Lift your weight, run your race, and know your limits. In doing these you’re putting yourself in the best circumstance to succeed.
4) Listen to your body
If you’re tired or sore you may need rest. Sometimes the best workout is the one you don’t do. This is a tough one for me, but one that I learned training for my first half marathon.
I was about 2 thirds of my way through the training program and I was starting to fatigue early in my runs. I just felt zapped and didn’t have the stamina I was used to. Then, an uncle and runner in his own right told me the time I was training so hard to achieve wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t get to the starting line.
He was right. I rested a few days then got back after it feeling refreshed and ready to go. I finished the race and earned a quasi-respectable time. Gotta love smart and experienced uncles!
5) Stepping outside of your comfort zone could be the key to reinvigorating your workouts
I wrote a couple pieces on this experiment earlier (Why can’t dudes do Zumba too?) but the point is I tried something new – actually 4 exercise classes traditionally dominated by women participants – and discovered new ways to push my body toward higher levels of fitness.
I loved the classes and learned a lot along the way. The process taught me to look outside of the weight room and treadmill, and I had a ton of fun doing it!
6) Protect yourself
I can’t write a post about the importance of timing and circumstance in improving fitness without mentioning the inspiration.
We were driving home on a 2-lane rural road with no sidewalks and a 55 MPH speed limit. The road is about a mile long and on both ends is a residential area complete with sidewalks, wide streets, and one even has a hike and bike trail. Both have ample mileage to get a solid run in.
Driving on this road we see a runner, running on the right side of the road (with traffic) so that he couldn’t see who was coming up behind him. As far as form went the guy was phenomenal. With decision making, however, I thought he had room for improvement. This guy was exposed to traffic and couldn’t see the lane closest to him. He may have been on his way to being the next Mo Farah but all that wouldn’t much matter if he were injured on this shoulder-less road with moderate traffic.
Make the good, safe, decision and get your run on following the road less traveled – by traffic that is.
Thanks for reading!
This is a guest post from Mike at MikedUp Blog. I write about fitness, finance, and family and would love you to check out my site! I love what Dini is doing with her blog and appreciate her letting me post here!