Exercise that orients around performance is far more effective than exercise that orients around time. You can transform your fitness results by shifting your mindset this way.
Is More Really Better?
For many, the sole reason to exercise is to burn calories, so it would seem that more time must be better, right? But what if you could train your body to be better at burning calories, all the time, and not just during exercise? Even if weight loss is your main goal, wouldn’t having a body that burns calories and fat, even while you sleep, not only meet your goal, but truly enhance your life? When most people aren’t getting the definition and fat loss they want, they usually just exercise harder, longer, and more often. More effort means more time taken away from other life priorities, and the net results may not seem worth the sacrifice. Then, boredom and disinterest set in until the program is discontinued and a feeling of failure and disillusionment may ensue.
Focusing on performance nets better results in less time.
However, a person who has a performance focus instead of a time focus feels very differently. This person is very motivated to continue a program that not only is creating results, but takes so little time that it has minimal impact on the rest of life. This person notices encouraging results on a weekly basis, with minimal time spent: as little as 30 minutes three times per week.
What is the difference? The first person is simply using exercise to burn calories. The second person has learned to see exercise as a process of increasing his or her fitness level. The first person has chosen to exercise instead of dieting. The second person uses exercise to increase metabolism and gently manages nutrition for a good balance between health and enjoyment.
When you think of the primary aim of exercise as being the achievement of an extremely high level of fitness you get more results for your time and effort. More results with less life impediment means a better return on your time investment and the positive feeling of getting a tremendous payback. With this sense of achievement, you have a much easier time sticking to it. It suddenly seems worth it!
Shifting from Time to Performance Focus
Every workout should be a measurable step forward. Don’t just go for a “hard workout”. Put your attention to making the workout a measurably higher performance. This higher performance should be one rung on the ladder of progressive steps that lead you to the body you want. This is the exercise strategy of the performance focused mindset: to set measurable goals for key exercises and track progress directly towards those goals. This is done differently for strength and aerobic exercises.
Performance goals for strength training are increases in weight and/or repetitions while staying in the appropriate repetition range. Every peak effort strength exercise has to be started with an awareness of your previous peak level. From there, add either an extra repetition or an increase in weight. For example, if you can do dumbbell bench presses with 20 pounds 10 times at maximum effort, a good 6-week performance goal might be to do 30 pounds those same 10 times. Then, each workout can be going for either 1 more repetition or 5 more pounds.
Performance goals for aerobic training are increases in the level of work without exceeding the “target” heart rate zone. Aerobic exercise should be nurtured up incrementally in level or speed as your body allows. A simple method to know you are within your aerobic training zone is the “talk test” which means you can carry on a conversation without gasping for air more than every fifth word or so. If you can do 4.5 MPH on the treadmill while just passing the “talk test” a good 6-week performance goal could be to get to 5 MPH with the same breathing pattern.
Summing it up: Focus on Results
The key to achieving results in exercise is increasing your body’s capacity to do higher level of strength and aerobic work. This makes every workout more satisfying since you are getting proof of progress regularly. You get more bang for your buck and it’s also easier to stick to. Focus on results.
Chris McNeil’s Pensarc Software was recognized as an “Innovator 2008” by the Charleston Regional Business Journal for developing www.fitmenu.net . Chris has also won two national awards for innovation for web-based fitness software. Follow fitmenu on twitter at www.twitter.com/fitmenu You can reach Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.