That Darn Comfort Zone. Why Does It Have To Be So Comfortable?

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One More RepDo you push yourself during your workouts? No, I mean really push yourself. I thought I did until this week. I was talking with a friend at work about goals. More accurately, the fact that I didn’t really have one now. Not because I didn’t want one, but more because I don’t know what a good goal would be. I’m not sure when my next contest will be. At this point, I’m not even sure I want to do another one for a while.

I don’t have a race or anything else planned. I don’t have a goal to lose weight. I’m just kind of floating along and enjoying my workouts for now. As we were talking about this, I said that I was fine with knowing that I’d never really lift more weight than I do right now. His answer surprised me. He said it’s because I didn’t push myself and try to lift more weight. What? I push myself. My workouts are hard. I sweat. I feel exhausted.

He pointed out that I pick a number and I do just that. For example, 5 sets of 10 reps of an exercise. I pick a weight and lift it for 10 reps. Sure I follow “the rule” of the last 2 reps should be hard, but that’s it. He told me to do more and push harder instead of focusing on the number of reps. He suggested that I pick a weight that was 5 – 10 lbs heavier than I’d usually choose and lift it for however many reps I could. Write down that number and use the same weight the next time but aim for more reps until I was able to do the 10 reps planned.

I gave it a try for my arm workout this week and surprised myself. I grabbed dumbbells that were 10 lbs heavier than usual and thought there was no way. I managed to do 4 slow bicep curls before I couldn’t even move my arms for another rep. BUT I lifted more than I thought I actually could. I’ve started following this new plan for my workouts to see just how much progress I can make. I have my workouts planned for December and most exercises call for 10 or 12 reps each.

If I’m supposed to do 10 reps, I’m picking a weight that barely allows me to get to 7 – 8 reps before I can’t do anymore. Next time I’ll aim for 9 reps. Once I can do 10, I’ll increase the weight. Same plan for 12 rep exercises. It’s interesting that sometimes we need a gentle reminder that we may not really be doing everything we can. Sometimes we need a push to step outside our comfort zone into the zone where change happens. That’s definitely what I needed this week.

So, are you really pushing yourself in your workouts or do you get a number stuck in your head? If you’re a runner, pick a faster time and aim for that. If you do workouts with reps or times, aim to be your personal best. If you’ve been doing the same cardio or yoga class for a bit, see if you can find a challenging one to try out. You just might surprise yourself with what you can do. Everyone is different of course, so your level of pushing yourself is going to be different than others. Always use judgement when moving outside your comfort zone and be safe.

Do you have a current goal that you are striving towards? I need help figuring out one for me. It’s harder than I thought.

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