Dear Tara Marie,
I really need some inspiration. I’m having a tough time getting to the gym regularly and eating well. I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I am feeling really unmotivated, and I just hate what’s happening to my body after all of the hard work that I put in to get where I am now. I really need some inspiration. Can you help me?
Thanks, Carolyn, New York City
I have gone through what you are describing many times, especially after a knee surgery, serious injury or an illness that takes me out of my usual routine for an extended period.
Two things are happening: 1) you are physically out of shape and not where you want to be, and 2) you are mentally out of shape and not where you need to be to make a shift in your life.
There is a mind-set that you had when you were at your physical peak, and you need to get this back, as well as get your training on track.
We want to slowly get your body moving toward your goal and, at the same time, get you mentally in the game of consistent training and conscious eating.
Try my 3-week jump start plan to course-correct fast!
Last week I posted a blog that focused on two of the many ways to increase strength training intensity: increasing the total load and decreasing the amount of time between sets. If you missed that newsletter, check out my blog post, “Two Simple Ways to Increase Strength Training Intensity.”
This week I want to highlight two other ways to ratchet up the efficacy of your strength training.There’s a very specific recipe to build muscle: work the muscle; feed the muscle; rest the muscle. Within this recipe are many variables, and depending on how they are manipulated, you will either mitigate or enhance your results.
I’m often asked how to increase the intensity of a strength training workout to maximize results. It’s important to understand that intensity is relative, as what may be hard for you will be easy for someone else. Often when I advise clients to do high-intensity strength training, they remind me that they’re not very strong. Regardless of your current level of strength, you can make your training high-intensity relative to your abilities. If you’re going to make time for a workout, make the time work for you—meaning, if you’re disciplined enough to exercise, do so in such a way that will maximize your results.
With respect to strength training, the important thing to remember is to manipulate different variables that will force your body to work with greater loads. Strength gains occur when you require your muscles to adapt progressively to a higher level of resistance. This occurs when you increase the intensity. If you never increase the intensity of your training, your muscles adapt to the routine and you will eventually cease to progress.
Let’s look at two effective ways to increase the intensity of a strength training session. Remember, strength training can mean weight training with barbells and dumbbells, exercising with bands and tubing, or even cleverly using your own body weight. All of these forms of training can and will increase muscular strength, if done properly. Again, muscles gain strength when you require them to adapt—they will only adapt when you give them a challenge.
As someone who struggled greatly to mold myself into the person I wanted to become, I’ve had a life-long fascination with high-achievers and people who seem to effortlessly succeed. My fascination led me to study people I admire in an attempt to raise the bar in my own life. I do believe that we’re here to constantly learn, improve, and teach what we know to others. In this sense, we’re never done—we can never stop learning or striving to improve, as the point of being here is to do something with our lives that contributes to the world in a positive way.
As part of my study of people who achieve and attain the highest level success, I also had to focus my attention on those who don’t. In this category of people, I identified two distinct groups: those who try and fail and eventually give up, and those who never try in the first place. People in the latter group confound me, yet fascinate me, the most. What would make anyone choose to sit on the sidelines of life while the rest of us are out on the field playing the game?
I’ve had conversations with private clients recently that made me want to address this in greater detail.