“No pain, no gain” is a pretty common catchphrase when it comes to getting and staying in shape.
Fortunately, it’s a myth.
If you don’t yet have a good sports routine that you’re happy about and you’d like to get into one that is sustainable and easy to maintain – this the post for you!
(If, on the other hand, you love stretching yourself to the limit of your capabilities, feeling the burn and the sweat – this is probably not the post for you.)
We’ve talked about how every activity has a HIME – a time when you can get High Impact out of Minimal Effort.
Fitness is no exception.
You can get maximum fitness results from putting in minimal effort, but in order to do that there are 4 elements that you might want to keep in mind:
1. Pick your HIME time
You have 24 hours in the day, so you need to figure out which of those hours is the most physically and emotionally conducive for you to be involved in fitness. Here are some guidelines:
It will likely never be easy. But some times will be easier than others.
First, eliminate the times that strike you as too hard.
If the very thought of getting out of bed before 7 is exhausting, don’t feel you need to make an effort to exercise early in the morning.
I see people jogging in the park at 9 PM, and I can’t imagine myself getting into my training outfit that late at night. This is obviously not my HIME for fitness activities.
Exercise should fit in to your routines, habits and tendencies – not oppose them.
After you have eliminated the difficult times, take a look at the remaining times and pick the time where you feel you will face the least external and internal resistance.
Your HIME time for fitness may not (and probably won’t) be the same time as your partner, neighbor or best friend.
Figuring out what your HIME time is will lower the barrier to starting your fitness activity.
2. Our brain is hardwired to avoid suffering
If we go out for a jog but we end it with a rapid pulse, heavy sweating and overall exhaustion, our brain will wire this activity as a negative experience.
And then, to make things worse, it will do everything in its power to prevent us from repeating it!
That’s not good news for our workout schedule.
So what can we do about it?
Finish any sports activity 5-10 minutes before the “suffering” begins, when your body still has energy and vitality.
Your brain will now wire that activity as a positive experience.
Next time you plan to exercise again, your mind will support your efforts to do so, or at least will not offer resistance to the idea.
This is true for every task that doesn’t come easy to you. In my case, that task is producing family digital photo albums which require a lot of work, or working on pension and insurance papers, which is even worse.
Stop just before it gets hard: even if you’ve only made a little bit of progress.
What’s important is that your brain remembers it as a “not so hard” experience.
Your brain will then will offer very little resistance and help you repeat it again and again until it becomes a habit or a routine activity in your life, no longer requiring significant mental effort or attention.
3. Impact is created from repetition
Impact comes only from our ability to repeat the fitness activity consistently.
It doesn’t matter which sport you decide to do;
it doesn’t matter how many times a week;
it doesn’t matter how long each training session is.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS IS:
CAN YOU REPEAT IT AGAIN AND AGAIN?
That is why I recommend that you only commit to an activity that is easy for you to do and one that won’t take much time.
Let’s look at an example:
10 push-ups daily for a month will build a pretty nice arm muscle
try 100 push-ups and the result will be a strained muscle, a tired body and a negatively wired experience
Try to find 10 minutes a day for any fitness activity you find easy.
Do it daily for a month, and you will feel the compound effect.
4. No need to increase
Although it’s counterintuitive to what you may have been taught in school, sports activity does not necessarily have to increase over time.
If you’re jogging or running, there’s no real need to add more miles.
You don’t need to run 3 miles, so you can then run 5 miles, so you can then run 10.
You can if you want, of course, but it isn’t a must for staying in shape.
Increasing can actually be harmful for many people.
They add time and length and very quickly get injured.
What happens when we get injured?
We’re incapacitated for a long time, during which we get out of our sports routine, gain weight, and tend to dislike ourselves in the process.
That is why I warmly recommend thinking it through before increasing the frequency or intensity of workouts.
I, for example, define my weekly jogs as UP TO 30 minutes. Although I can run more than 30 minutes, I don’t want to add more time to my runs because I’d rather do other things with my time.
I decide if and how much I’d like to jog.
The rule of thumb is that it has to feel good to my body and mind.
When I was pregnant and after birth, for example, I often only ran for 10 or 15 minutes.
That self-imposed limitation on my jogging also gives me time to do my yoga training and play tennis, which are sports I simply adore.
Steady and slow is the way to go for the purpose of always staying in shape but without much sweat.
Making workouts work
You can get maximum fitness results with minimum effort if you:
- work out on your HIME
- pick an activity that feels easy
- stop just before it gets hard
- focus on consistent repetition