Easier said than done!
I mean just take the cover photo for example.
[I have some live action video for you here if you’re already sick of reading. It’s ok, I completely understand 😉 ]
In the last 5 years, I have constructed and maintained an exercise habit that I could only have dreamed of in the years prior. I wake up every day excited, motivated, PUMPED, to get into the gym to pick things up and put them down again. I’m not a big fan of drawn out cardio routines so I generally stick to free weights and the odd HIIT routine inclusion to get the heart rate motoring. But if I’m being honest, it’s mostly just weights in isolated and targeted movements.
I created (for me) this insane motivation and routine because I used to work away in resources. Instead of spending my free time after a 12 hour shift drinking mid strength beers, talking about the work I was just doing, I went to the gym every afternoon for the duration of my 3 week shift. If this isn’t habit forming, what the hell is?!
Not only did I see an improvement in my overall strength, my physique changed dramatically. This is something easy to notice if you have a wiry 189 cm build. If I say there wasn’t a boost to my ego from a stray compliment, I would be lying.
When I was creating this habit for myself, I was focused on everything from being able to lift heavy to functional movement exercises. There was just as much influence from HIIT routines as there was straight up weight lifting. This was great, not only was I more flexible and mobile in my movement, but I was getting stronger.
Fast forward 5 years and it’s still gym every morning or afternoon, depending on my work schedule and gym opening hours, and I’ve noticed how my variety of exercise has slipped. Where I used to have HIIT routines regularly, they have been steadily replaced by isolating muscles movements that have steadily decreased by range of movement (ROM). I still look great and feel great, but at what cost?
The Vanity factor, as in constructing my desired physique, has unconsciously become my priority. What happened to getting that heart rate up and increasing my flexibility and mobility for overall good health?
It does feel good when your clothes hug your body like they never did before. This is a good hug. Not the obese test to see if your belt will hold, but the feeling of your sleeves hugging your freshly worked out arms.
It’s straight up vanity, and it’s intoxicating.
You’ve seen those patrons of the gym on a Friday afternoon getting that pump in before hitting the town. Those sleeves aren’t budging all night long. It’s a form of peacocking, and it is rather effective.
Please note, I am in no way shape or form a big person. I have simply improved on what I started with and this is everything that I am noticing. There’s guys in the gym whose arms are as big as my thighs. They’re animals! I still maintain my water bird stick legs no matter how much attention I give them.
But I digress. What this piece is about, in a roundabout way, is not to take the spotlight off vanity completely, but instead do something that might not produce the most glamorous results, but something that will increase your body’s overall health and conditioning. This is functional body movements that increase your ROM, flexibility, mobility, and reduce the chance of injury when you do decide to go big.
I would never presume to tell you what to do to achieve this, as I’m learning myself. I’m going back to YouTube searches to rekindle that initial routine that I started with. Now that the vanity is in check, I want to focus on the overall health aspect so I can be the complete package.
Are you stuck in the vanity trap? Forsaking range of movement for veiny bulges?
Or have you yet to create that routine or desire to change your body? Momentum is an incredible force, and repeated actions build on themselves to create habits (good and bad).
If anyone has any tips or preferred exercise routines that complement both the strength and conditioning side of an exercise routine I would love for you to share them! Let’s get healthier together (and touch our toes whenever we want).
Happy lifting and stretching!