Good morning and happy Monday! I did not want the weekend to end, but alas it did and we are back at it. I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of my weekend, but until then let’s talk about exercises we hate!
The other morning during my run when I was home in Maine, I thought of all sorts of blog post topics. Thankfully I was smart enough to add them to my on-going “blog topic” note in my phone otherwise I most definitely would not have remembered a single one of them. Sometimes I have a crazy good memory and sometimes it completely escapes me; it’s the strangest thing!
Anyway… one of the topics I thought about during my run was how people- myself most certainly included- tend to avoid exercises because they are hard, not because they/we have a physical limitation that inhibits us from correctly and safely executing a move. I mentioned in this post how I tend to avoid running hills because they are hard. Will they make me a better, stronger and faster runner? Sure! But since I’m not an avid runner or racer and do it more for the physical benefits of cardio work and to clear my head, I don’t care that much about getting faster and only run hills when they are unavoidable- which is actually every single route around my apartment, haha (just keeping it real with you!).
Ashley also talked about how you should actually do MORE of the exercises that are hard and that you hate in this post (btw if you haven’t read that post yet, please do. It’s so worth it!), which I totally agree with. How are you ever going to get better at something if you don’t practice it (Clearly I don’t care about getting faster at running since I avoid sprints and hills like it’s my job!)?
I bring this up because I also see it in my classes all the time when I announce we are doing burpees, which I think is one of the exercises people love to hate the most. I wonder if I called them something different if people wouldn’t hate them so much? But, regardless, like with every exercise I introduce and teach in my classes, I always offer modifications:
- Triceps dips hurt your wrists? Do kickbacks or OH extensions
- Jump squats hurt your knees? Just squat and reach
- OH presses hurt your shoulder? Do upright rows
- Jumping back into the plank for a burpee not where you’re at today? Fine- walk it back!
- etc., etc.
There are always modifications and variations for what we do in classes, but what I hate to see is when I offer a variation on a burpee or push-ups or mountain climbers or something else that might be “hard”, and people choose the alternative exercise because they like it better or because it’s easier. I get it. Burpees aren’t always fun. Mountain climbers are definitely not always fun (I actually hate them!) and as Ashley said, “We all instinctively want to do what we’re already good at, but the real gains in strength come from working at what is difficult for us.” Amen, friend! The thing with these exercises, even though they are hard and even though we might hate them, ultimately they make you stronger and they are incredible full body exercises that should be done if you’re physically capable of doing them.
I’ve recently started to approach my workouts this way and I have noticed some improvements with traditionally “hard” exercises for me. Push-ups and I are not really getting along right now, simply because I’m going through a phase where they are just not coming easily to me. To help build muscles to make them easier, I’ve been doing more chest/lats/back exercises so I am hoping I will continue to see some positive shifts. Another thing I’ve been doing to help is doing more of them! Less reps, better form, more often throughout the day or the workout (think 2 really great push-ups at the start of your workout, dispersed throughout and at the end) and that has also helped because practicing something with bad form is not going to make the exercise easier for you!
I challenge you to think about an exercise that’s hard for you. Might be running, might be push-ups, pull-ups, squats, burpees, etc.- the possibilities are endless, right?! Once you think of that “ugh. I HATE this exercise” exercise, I want you to do the following:
- Figure out why you hate it? Is it just hard or does it hurt you? If it hurts you, don’t push-it. There are always variations to try that might not hurt you but still give you the same results. But if you figure out that the exercise is hard purely because it’s hard, don’t give up and opt out of doing, but rather continue with #2 below…
- Think about how you can get better at the exercise and therefore maybe learn to like it. Do you need to scale back and start at an easier level again? Do you need to start incorporating the exercise into your weekly workouts more? Do you need to strengthen muscles to help the exercise feel easier?
- Practice, practice, practice! Let’s face it- you can do as many preparatory exercises to help you, but if you’re not practicing the actual exercise you’re not going to see the results you want. You may want to start practicing in baby steps- maybe push-ups against the wall or on your knees, maybe jogging for 1 minute and walking 1 minute, maybe just getting the initial squatting motion for a burpee down. Starting small and seeing noticeable changes along the way is such great motivation to keep going!
Questions for you: What’s an exercise you hate? What do you tend to avoid at the gym? What do you do to get better at said exercises?
I love hearing about peoples likes/dislikes at the gym, so share away, friends!