Stylebook readers, prepare yourself for some really awesome photos and videos in this two-part series. The photo below appeared in the Athleta catalog a few weeks back and got me fired up. Yeah, I know…the photo has likely been “touched up” to make this move look all the more impressive.
But regardless of Photoshop or creative camera angles, this ad motivates me to improve my own “plyo” push-ups (one where the mid-point is in the air; some people clap their hands doing them) and handstands (below).
So why would I set goals inspired by these photos? It motivates me to “keep going,” even at 51 years old…to keep getting stronger and pushing the envelope of my own training.
Think about what it takes to do something really challenging in life — get married, have a baby, capture that perfect job, say goodbye for good to a toxic relationship, command an audience, etc. Whatever the goal, often the answer is that you must change your routine and challenge yourself to go slightly outside the lines; you must move beyond your comfort zone.
The same is true to reach fitness goals. And, spoiler alert, you’ll find out more about yourself during the journey than when you accomplish the goal.
When I committed to moving from chin ups (palms facing me, a lot of bicep) to pull-ups in my workouts (palms facing away, a lot of back and core) a year ago, I knew it would take these same four ingredients. And now, yes, I am “pulling out” pull-ups in most of my workouts. My back and core are stronger. I feel like I accomplished something amazing and, well, my arms, legs, shoulders even look fit. A win-win…
After training thousands of clients over more than 15 years in the fitness industry, I have found that there are four essential ingredients to finally, finally accomplishing the things you have wanted to achieve for a long time. We’ll cover the first two today:
Time can mean two things: duration and amount.
Duration is the time you will give yourself to get there. For me, wellness and fitness goals take one year. Give yourself one year to do a pull-up…or five. Or, give yourself a year to train for a race. Give yourself a year to get really healthy and lose those unwanted 20 pounds.
My triathlete colleague Dominika
For my colleague Dominika Cihanova to crush her Half Ironman Triathlon — finishing the 70.3 mile course in 6:41 (yes, that’s hours!) — it took time, a lot of time, practicing. In fact, she trained for eight months. She says, “I signed up a year ago and trained six days/week for last nine months. It was daily commitment.” Remember, even when you are not engaged in the activity of running, or whatever your goal may be, you are living your life as if that goal is a part of you. You make healthier choices and say “no” more.
My promise to you: if you commit yourself to doing something remarkable in your training for one year, you will achieve it. You will lose weight. You will get strong. You will build muscle.
“Most people get excited about games, but I’ve got to be
excited about practice, because that’s my classroom.”
— Pat Summit
Amount is the number of times you train for that goal. It’s literally how much time will you spend practicing, and how many times you will practice. Practicing can be like the video of Shannon below. She gets there, but boy, with a lot of “sticking with the stick” as we say.
Here Shannon is just starting her pull up journey:
Yet, she got there! Don’t just give up. Like Shannon, stay in the sticking point. Her nervous system and her brain are both getting used to that point and getting through it! So, practice can be successful attempts…but most will be imperfect. And, yes, Shannon is doing pull-ups in every session.
Below, Shannon crushes five. Notice how she does not give up! Get uncomfortable!
Life happens. Sessions are cut short. Someone gets sick. Or, your practice just isn’t the best that day. It could be a poor night of sleep, more stress than your body can take that day, or just knowing today isn’t the day to push it. And that’s OK!
The number of times we have great sessions at practice are far fewer than those we wish we could have done better. The goal to getting to a plyo push-up requires a lot of core training, a lot of explosive-type movements incorporated into your training. So the exercises you’d do would be many and those that complement the ultimate goal: the plyo push-up. Also, you will do push-up varieties you never knew existed: incline, decline, explosive on a bench, “spiderman” style, etc.
Have patience with the movement, your body, and your self-confidence.
Having the patience to realize you will get there and knowing you will perform the goal will result in amazing gifts of strength, cardio, mobility, stretch, and self-confidence beyond your wildest dreams.