Spoiler: There are only three criteria that need to be met in order for a movement to become exercise. Read on to find out more…
Before I went live on Facebook yesterday, I did some digging into the history of the modern gym in an attempt to understand where movement and fitness went wrong for us humans – a species that has been in existence since the Middle Paleolithic (about 200,000 years ago) and has risen to be earth’s apex predator – even before modern tools, housing and weapons.
History of the Gym
It was only in 1939 (the year my father was born) that Jack LaLanne (the olde timey fitness legend ) opened what is heralded as the first Health Club in Oakland, California. At the time, these clubs were mostly dingy, dusty, cellar-like places with a boxing ring, a heavy bag, and a few rusty iron weights strewn around the area. This is where (predominantly) men lifted weights or trained for particular sports (not just in pursuit of picturesque abs and pecs).
The main target muscle in the Hip Bridge is the erector spinae which runs from your neck to your tailbone. Doing this exercise stretches and engages your hip abductors, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. On the other end of the movement, the rectus abdominis, obliques, and quadriceps get a workout due to the need to stay stable.
If you are feeling adventurous, you also try adding the Marching Bridge and the Single Leg variation. But don’t get carried away, master the basic bridge before progressing.
A healthy balance of hip strength and mobility is very important to ensure everyday stability and also to prevent overuse and athletic injuries. Achieving this balance isn’t a problem if you keep it in mind, don’t sit too much for too long, and occasionally weird out your coworkers by laying down in the conference room and doing some of these hip bridges!
Let’s try a little experiment. If I asked you to go out and run, swim or cycle right now with no further instruction, what pace would you go at?
Chances are that you would go out and run, ride or swim at what we refer to as a “comfortably uncomfortable” pace. A pace that makes you feel like you are getting some benefit from it but also a pace that feels achievable and sustainable.
There is a good reason that we humans default to working just on the verge of discomfort. In fact, psychologists even have a name for it: Manageable Difficulty or (more whimsically) The Goldilocks Rule.
The Goldilocks Rule says: humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Or, comfortably uncomfortable.
I have heard the same thing so many times in the years that I have been a coach. An athlete finishes their A-Race, takes a bit of a recovery break, and then eventually emails me saying “Now that my race is over, I can’t seem to get motivated to workout anymore!” – or – “I seem to have lost the motivation to exercise, now that the race season is over.”
Then, after they flounder around for a while, unsuccessfully trying to get magically motivated, they sign up for another race with the sole purpose of rekindling their motivation to exercise. And sure, that works… but I think they are missing the point.
I am going to say it: Motivation is overrated and overvalued. For my money, motivation can suck it.
Races are fun and I love helping someone achieve their race goals – but races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!
Races aren’t the reason you are getting to the gym, track, pool, or trail on a consistent basis. Having a plan is!
You see, when you have a race on the calendar, you usually also have a training plan for that race. That training plan involves a concrete workout for most days of the week. This forces you to make room in your schedule to get said workout done. And that right there is the magic. At that point, motivation can go hang – because you have a plan!
The workouts are on your schedule and therefore you get them done. And you know what, you can do this even when you don’t have a race to train for! WHAT?!?!? I know right?
So, I am not saying that you need to stop racing (if you enjoy it) but you do need to give credit where credit is due. The plan is the real hero here, not the race, not some magical motivation imp sprinkling “you love to exercise” dust on you as you sleep, not even your goal of achieving and new personal best finishing time.
It’s not the race – it’s the plan.
If you enjoy this type of out of the (crossfit) box thinking, you might want to check out the mindset, lifestyle, and habit forming program I run with Monica Reinagel over at Weighless.Life. Or join our free Facebook group.
Do you get stiff and achy ankles and feet during the day? Me too. In this “Workout of the Week” I demonstrate a quick routine that you can do to keep your piggies, tootsies and ankles nice and loose and limber.
I can’t believe it. Not only is it autumn already – but October is nearly halfway over!
Which means, for us in the Northern Hemisphere anyway, it is time to start pulling our cold weather movement practices (and gear) out of storage (metaphorical and physical) and get them back into the forefront. For me, that means doing things like setting up the bike trainer, switching my running shoes to ones with more grip, and perhaps buying some Swimmer’s Shampoo to protect what little hair I have left on my head from the indoor pool and its overly chlorinated-ness.
What does autumn mean for you, in terms of fitness and movement? What changes are you going to make to ensure that you don’t turn into a sedentary lump for the cold weather months? Let me know by hitting REPLY on this email and I will write an article on this topic and include your suggestions.
And with that, my friend, on with the digest!
If any of the following topics happen to tickle your fancy, click the underlined text to read or listen.
Scientific American – Is It Possible to Get Fit Fast? Everybody wants to get built right now or to run that 10k next month, but can you really get fit fast? And is that really the point?
My friend and business partner, Monica Reinagel, just kicked off her very eye-opening 30-Day Nutrition Upgrade again. If you feel like your diet could use an upgrade (and whose couldn’t?), I strongly encourage you to go check it out!