Tag Archives: strength exercise

Never Compare to Others in the Gym

Never ever compare yourself to others in the gym. Heck, don’t compare yourself to others in other parts of life, too! I have always had trouble with this. I’m a competitive person and also a critical person. I’m very tough on myself and expect the best. This can be a deadly combination if you let your focus stray outside yourself. It can initiate a viscous self-hate cycle where you never achieve anything you want to and always harp on yourself for doing something wrong or being weak. Don’t do this. 

Creep shot of Chris' back from last night's workout...spoiler: he's not doing a back exercise

Creep shot of Chris’ back from last night’s workout…spoiler: he’s not doing a back exercise

I typically workout with men…as in Chris and some of our friends. This makes it doubly important not to compare yourself to who you may be working out with. I’m not saying to not draw inspiration or motivation from others–that is most important! It is great to have a partner who works hard and keeps you working hard as well. However, if it comes to a point where you’re comparing your strength, body composition, or speed to that person, it can get rather unhealthy. Even past unhealthy–dangerous. If I tried to compete with Chris on any strength exercise, tried to match his squat, I’d be snapped like a twig from the weight.

Triceps shot from a recent workout

Triceps shot from a recent workout

It’s important to understand your strengths and limitations before you barge into a workout. Are you ready for that heavy weight? Are you reaching too high? You need to re-evaluate why you’re working out and what you’re working out to. Write down your goals and write a healthy, safe way to get there. Sure, I want to get back into lifting heavy, but I’m not going to jump into huge weight right away. That’s a ticket to injury. I may be comparing myself to other strong-lifters and wanting to go farther faster, but I am me, and this is where I’m at right now. I’ve taken long steps to realizing this and saying this to myself. Understand who and where you are and understand how you can go forward.

Back shots, before and after

Back shots, before and after

If I compared myself to all the expert climbers in Boulder, I’d feel absolutely down in the dumps, angry and disappointed. However, I’ve only been climbing for months compared to them. Why on Earth would I compare myself to them? If you let yourself get caught up in the emotion of envy and self-hate, you aren’t going anywhere with your fitness goals. I remember a time when several workouts have been ruined by my bad attitude of comparing to others and my mood goes to the sharks.

Leg shot from a workout a little bit ago

Leg shot from a workout a little bit ago

Learn from this. Don’t compare to others around you. Compare to yourself. What did you do yesterday? What can you do today? Challenge yourself. Work hard. Train with a purpose and never, ever give up. Stay focused on yourself to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

double head kitty pic

double head kitty pic

Drop and Give Me Ten: How to Do a Proper Push-up

Usually when non-fitness people (whatever that means) hear the word “push-up,” they cringe in fear and run away. So stop! Don’t run! The push-up is a wonderful exercise for strengthening your body and you can literally do it almost everywhere. You don’t need any fancy equipment or gym, you don’t even need a proper ground–you could do it in the mud, if you preferred.

However, when people bravely attempt the push-up, their form is often wrong. Not only will this not give you the proper exercise, you can injure yourself if not positioned properly. So let’s get through this and do it the right way. There are various forms of the push-up, but I’m showing you the basic push-up.

Alright, find yourself an area on the ground where you have room to fully extend. Start on your hands and knees and face the floor. Extend your legs, your toes/top of the foot should be the floor. Now, have your hands shoulder-width apart (or a little bit wider). It’s a good thing to stack your shoulders right above your elbows and wrists. This ensures joint and bone stability, so that nothing simply gives out. So now you’re in the starting position! 

English: an exercise of chest

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t describe how extremely important it is to have your body rigid like a plank. I don’t want to see your hips drooping or raising above the rest of your body. It should be a direct line–think graphs. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong and if you continue to do so, it’s going to throw your body out of whack.

Now it’s time to try the actual exercise of lowering yourself as close to the ground as possible. Keep your elbows in as you slowly, keeping the hips in line with the body, lower yourself to the ground (without actually hitting it). Check your form out–is your body a straight line still? What about your neck? So often, people think they’re doing the push-up properly, and you see their neck drooping. Just because your neck can hit near the ground, doesn’t mean you’re doing it properly. So as your whole body is coming down, make sure your neck and head stay aligned with your body. It’s extremely important for the exercise and the health of your body.

Line art drawing of push up.

Line art drawing of push up. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now the tough part is coming back up. Keeping your form pristine (see above), use your chest muscles to push yourself up to starting position. This means your head and hips are still aligned with your torso and legs. And there you go. Congrats. Do 4 sets of as many as you can do. It will be extremely difficult at first, but the more you do them, the stronger your chest and arms will get. And ladies, I want to see you doing these too! It’s important to build our upper body. I do them, so can you.

Deutsch: Liegestützender Mann in gelben Shorts...

Deutsch: Liegestützender Mann in gelben Shorts. Animiert. Verzögerung 0,2 s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now there is a variation of the push-up for those who need it:

Knee push-ups. These are for those who are too weak and need more practice for the regular push-up. On this one, instead of resting on your toes, rest on your knees. Even though you are on your knees and hands, you still need to extend your body so that it is like a straight line and you are bring your torso down, not just your head or your shoulders.

Keep it up and work on those pecs! You will get to the regular push-up, and once you do, keep good form and get strong! Hey, maybe even make it a Resolution to get to a certain # by each month. Good luck!

Cheers!