There was a headline a few years back in the New York Times about one minute of exercise reaping the benefits of 45 minutes (https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/1-minute-of-all-out-exercise-may-equal-45-minutes-of-moderate-exertion/). The hubbub was from a study conducted at McMaster University. Long story short, intensity and strategic progressions make a greater impact than duration. My recent experiment confirms this.
For 9 weeks I limited my "workouts" to a single set of pullups performed in between my coaching appointments on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. At the very end, I was performing about 40 pullups per hour over the course of 10-12 hours. This added up to approximately 45-60 seconds of effort per bout, usually spread over ten sets, totaling up to about 9 minutes of effort on Monday, 9 on Wednesday, and 9 on Friday. It aggregated to 1,200-1,500 pullups per week.
Several interesting things occurred. My hunger increased for one. So, although I had planned on cutting weight, I couldn't pull that off AND recover from the intensity. I gained muscle, not just in the back and arms, but everywhere. And I cut body fat, while EATING MORE than I thought was prudent.
My typical eating schedule is long bouts of fasting, to which I still adhered as best I could. But with this practicum, by midday I would have to consume fairly large quantities to recover from the 400 pullups I'd performed that day or the prior. Ultimately, I was focused on achieving 40 or more pullups in a single effort, though I ended up only getting 30 (https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm4qlGelI7O/?hl=en&taken-by=jonathan.watters).
It's actually quite simple, though not easy. My weekly workout volume increase while subtracting out the time I'd normally spend on workouts. Consistency and strategic progression begat some fairly impressive results all around. Work increased while perceived effort decreased.
People who don't work at a gym or studio may scoff; but I've implemented this same strategy with clients who have no equipment. One of my distance coaching clients in D.C. is down 30lbs or so just from daily mini-exercises and protein consistency over the past year. Some body weight squats and wall/desk push-ups go a long way when you do only 5 per hour times 8 hours times 5 days times 50 weeks.
1.) "I'll Start Tomorrow/Next Week/Monday/etc."
Right. Do you carry a wooden stake and silver bullets on you as well?
I understand that the act of starting anything can be challenging. However, this superstition fails completely with respect to self-awareness. Delaying action IS the problem. You can always begin this very second to take control of your life and decisions; and placing self-discipline beyond the now reinforces the exact thinking and behavior which got you here.
The number one skill people must build is self-discipline. I don’t mean in the sense of some militaristic self-punishment. Just don’t be a liar. Listen to yourself. Say something. Do it.
Self-discipline doesn't happen to some future you. It can only occur in the now. Imagining that you will begin listening to yourself one day means you are admitting defeat right out of the chute.
All of this superstition is built on an inverted work-reward belief that's very common: "I should play now, have my treat now, rest now, vacation now, party now (before I've earned it), get it out of my system, then buckle down afterward." Phrased this way, you are actually looking at hard work as a punishment in response to your profligacy, which is the exact opposite of how you condition a behavior you want to build. Really, the hard work should become a joy in and of itself; and the bonus reward is the outcome from the work itself, not some deleterious activity which undoes the very same hard work you just completed.
Before someone gets rid of this superstition and understands work for work's sake, she should not even bother with a scale. Weigh-ins are too advanced for people who haven't changed their mindset. The frustration that occurs when someone says, "I did really good this week, and the scale went up," is a very immature and self-seeking sentiment. It ignores the work put in. It ignores the data feedback that no matter how "good" you did, something is awry in the program. Generally people who work very hard are not looking for immediate gratification. So the fact that you are looking for payoff and starting by defining your week as "good," means you are not yet mature enough to accept the constructive criticism that perhaps you should do more or that the week wasn't all that "good" (i.e. - "effective" - judgment terms like "good" and "bad" aren't productive; they're distracting, and create the impression that weight loss or gain should carry ethical or moral meaning, shame, or arrogance when, in fact, troubleshooting must be a dispassionate analysis of inherently amoral data).
2.) "I Can't..."
Philosophically, this is nonsense, especially when it refers to all the levers you can push and pull to get fitter. Look around. You'll find that there are single moms with 5 kids who've done it. You'll find paraplegics and quadriplegics who've done it. You'll find people with MS, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, and more who've done it. There are 80 and 90 year old bodybuilders, gymnasts, powerlifters and martial arts instructors. There are 100 year old marathoners and yoga instructors.
Whatever you have going on may indeed suck. But it is an absolute joke in comparison to what many other people are overcoming this exact second. There is no small number of people who don't even have access to food or water; and you are really going to sit there and tell me you can't give up alcohol for a month, give up going out to eat for a week, give up carbs for ten days? Saying "I can't fast," "I can't imagine doing that much work," "I can't believe eating bread is that bad for me," is preposterous and at the same time true. Its preposterous because you are opting for a symbol of your unwillingness to change. It's true because you say it and want to believe it.
Until you want to change - that is, until you can maturely acknowledge that you will embrace the very modest pain that comes along with your alleged goals - you'll continue making these equivocations and excuses. But let's not pretend. There is no "can't" except in your head. And people creating realities in their heads is becoming a serious problem for all of society.
3.) "I Have To"
Technically, no. You are obligated to do nothing. You don't have to pay your rent. You don't have to follow the speed limit. You don't have to treat yourself in a healthy manner. You don't have to support small businesses. All of these and many more are behaviors you GET THE OPPORTUNITY to do. You get to do actions which have great consequences. You get to pay your rent and count on having a place to live. You get to abide by vehicular laws and lower your risk of penalty and also your risk of murdering yourself and others. You get to treat yourself in a way which makes you feel better, age more slowly, and reduce risk of all cause mortality. You get to vote with dollars to have competition in the marketplace, and counter the giant multinational corporations which don't pay taxes and in many cases get away with relying on slave labor.
The word choice of "have to" in this phrase is obviously looking for a good-sounding way out. "I have to... and that's just too much... so I have to take a break." Hilarious, sad, and common all at the same time - you never had to do anything; if you aren't too far past your goal, it's not too much; you don't HAVE to quit, but you get the opportunity to seek mediocrity in yourself.
4.) "I Know What to Do; I Just Don't Do It"
Think about this for a moment.
You don't actually know what to do. You may know OF a program which "worked" for someone at some point in time. It might've even "worked" for you for a short period of time. But the fact that you aren't still doing it means it's not the right plan for you. Thus, you have no clue what to do RIGHT NOW. Until you come to grips with this, you are parroting a superstition.
If you won't do something, then you don't know what to do. If you know what to do, you do it.
This is a strong superstition because it tries to argue that people can have THE answer and somehow choose inaction. That’s a non sequitur. THE answer, by definition, IS action.
5.) “I'll Do It on My Own”
Notice the verb tense. That’s your first clue. We already talked about the superstition of future fantasy scenarios in bullet number one.
That’s just part one of three; because this fifth superstition is actually three all rolled within one.
The second part is itself wrapped tightly inside a truth. You do everything on your own, from a certain point of view. You must always experience the internal emotional and psychological shift on your own. That is true. But we’ve seen what your ego has gotten you so far. A small amount of humility goes a long way.
The third part in this phrase is an outright historical lie. No one anywhere has ever done anything inside of a vacuum without any external tools, assistance, training, or direction. Show me one self-made person. And I’ll show you her family, community, peers, society, opportunities, bosses, employers, mentors, leaders, followers, customers, etc.