How I Use Personal Fitness Records to Inspire Exercise
Breaking records for myself is what keeps me motivated.
One of my favorite ways to stay motivated for exercise is by breaking personal fitness records. It's kind of like gamifying the workout as I am working to beat my "high score." Essentially, it taps my competitive nature.
Although I prefer to compete against others, sometimes the competition just blows me out of the water.
Seriously, dude? I can't compete against someone who can do 50 push-ups.
In some situations, I find it more productive to compete against myself. Because in reality, that's what I should be more concerned with overall...self-improvement.
This way, I am less likely to face frustration when trying to match my abilities against someone who is far more fit than I. Instead of feeling like a failure, I dwell more on accomplishment by breaking my own personal fitness records.
And that's one of the keys to keeping yourself motivated. The better you feel about what you've done, the more likely you'll continue working out.
Using Personal Fitness Records to Drive Yourself Forward
There are plenty of ways you can keep track of your own exercises. You can use a spreadsheet, a notepad, or even write them down on a sticky note.
Personally, I use Exercise.com to track every exercise I perform. And although it's not the site it once was several years ago, it still keeps track of my performance while including a timestamp.
I can look back and see when I set specific records for myself and decide whether that should be this month's goal.
Plus, it shows how I stack up against others on the website.
In reality, though, use whatever method that is more convenient for you. The point here is to jot down all of your exercises throughout your routine.
Find Your Limits
The first thing I do when setting a new personal fitness record is trying to do as many as I can at the beginning of the month. This can be anything from the total weight I can lift to how many reps I can do.
After finding the baseline of my max, I then switch to doing about 50-75% of it with the consecutive sets throughout the month. This is because I don't want to burn myself out, which tends to happen a lot since I often push too hard.
Here is an example of what I mean:
- Hit 22 push-ups at the beginning of the month.
- Every workout over the next 30 days, I'll do 10 to 15 push-ups per set. Usually, I'll work out about three to five times per week. And, I'll throw in three sets of push-ups during those workouts.
- At the end of the month, take a day to aim at beating my record.
It's not an exact science, mind you. This just works best for me. Everyone is different, but the idea is to essentially "practice" the exercise you want to beat throughout the month.
I think of it as training to surpass my own abilities, and it works out exceptionally well. In fact, I am working on improving reps with the ab roller this month.
Since I started the month out with 10 reps, I include the ab roller at 7 reps per set in each workout.
Will this get you instantly ripped and ready to post for an underwear ad in a magazine? Probably not. It really depends on how active you are, the kinds of foods you eat, and how dedicated you are to breaking personal fitness records.
Why Not Just Max Yourself Out with Every Set?
I tried doing as much as I could with every set once. The problem I ran into was feeling extremely sick and off-balance. It's hard to describe, but I just felt bad all around.
After about a week, my coordination was off, I was constantly sore, and the motivation to continue was non-existent.
I just felt ultimately bad.
I did notice a bit of an improvement in how many reps I could do. But after about two weeks, I just didn't feel right at all. It was like my body was telling me I needed to stop before something bad happened.
Not Every Workout is For Everyone
The thing to keep in mind when setting personal fitness records is that not every workout is going to be effective for everyone. Especially when you're overweight like I am and trying to compete with those with 5% body fat.
This is why I prefer competing against myself in most cases. Yes, I would love to challenge others to fitness contests. But my ultimate goal is to be better than I am.
Striving to break my own records keeps me focused throughout the month to continue trying. It's a commitment to myself to surpass my own limitations.
Since I'm not trying to get fit overnight, I can take my time and work on my goals. The most important element to consider here is keeping active throughout the week.
Find What Motivates You to Succeed
Breaking personal fitness records is what tickles my fancy. I love numbers and data. In fact, I have spreadsheets for a wide variety of reasons.
When I break my best reps or set a new record for the most pounds lifted, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. And that's what motivates me to keep working out.
Find the best methods that keep your head in the game. Whether it's competing with others or perhaps you love to run, it's all about you and what works best to achieve your goals.
As long as you're getting something out of it on a personal level, that's all that really matters in the end.