When it comes to self-improvement, one of my favorite things to do is beat personal records. It’s one of the ways I gamify fitness to keep me engaged. And last Friday, I set two new records while at the gym.
Now, this isn’t absolutely necessary if you’re perfectly fine with your current physique. But for those who are new or looking to become more than they currently are, aiming to break records can be of great benefit.
Especially if you have a hard time getting yourself mentally in the game.
Why Does Setting Records Matter?
When it comes to health and fitness, you’re only in competition with yourself. It doesn’t matter what anyone else can do, especially since you’re not them.
Sure, you can use someone as inspiration to help you get to where you want to be. But you still have to walk the path yourself. This means you need to find ways that can keep you motivated and moving forward.
So, why do I emphasize breaking my personal bests when it comes to single exercises or workouts?
Just like dieting and losing weight, sometimes it can be difficult to see if you’ve made any gains. Or, in the case of weight loss, the scale can give you false hope if you don’t see the numbers drop.
When it comes to weight training, though, it’s much easier to wrap your mind around progression. That’s because you’re able to lift more weight than you did before, which reinforces the success in your mind.
Case in point, I am able to lift nearly double the weight on the chest press than I was able to do about a year ago. On Friday, I was able to lift more weight on the seated row and back extension machines.
Granted, I wasn’t able to do all three sets at the higher weight with the row. But I was still able to maintain 20 reps before realizing I had to turn it down a bit.
When breaking records like this, it tells me that I am definitely getting stronger. If the muscle development wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be able to lift as much.
Pure and simple.
Boosting a Sense of Accomplishment
One of the big reasons why a lot of people stop working out or maintaining a diet plan is because they don’t feel like it’s working. But when you’re shattering your own personal records, you can see in the numbers that it is.
This can fuel a sense of accomplishment as you’re able to actually see those numbers go up. There’s no denying that you can lift more today than when you first started.
Now, the rate at which you progress depends completely on your own physical strength goals. Some people want to Hulk out while others just want to add a bit to their frame.
Either way, though, consistently breaking personal bests will help you feel good about the progress you’ve made.
When you have verifiable progress and a boosted sense of accomplishment, you’re more likely to keep going. Not only will this help you reach the physique you want, but it’ll also make sure the money you spend on a gym isn’t wasted.
I know a lot of people who pay the $25 membership fee who haven’t stepped foot in the gym in over three months.
Now, breaking personal records isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people need a lot more to motivate them to continue. But for me, seeing that I am currently pressing more than the site average on Exercise.com makes me want to keep pushing forward.
How I Keep Steadily Breaking Personal Records
The way I have my workouts set up, I am constantly breaking records at the gym. Of course, this also works when I do bodyweight exercises at home.
For me, it’s all about a steady progression. Remember, I’m not trying to bulk up or enter a bodybuilding competition. I would just like to look better than I do while being able to have the strength and stamina for various activities I enjoy.
For example, strengthening the arms, shoulders, and back improves golf play by increasing power and improving balance when swinging the club. Not to mention control for a more accurate swing.
Breaking Records with Weights
Every time I am able to complete a series of three sets at 20 reps using the same amount of weight, I’ll increase the weight by five pounds the next day.
Take my last workout, for instance. I was able to sustain all 60 reps at 105 pounds for the tricep pushdown. Next time I use that machine, I’ll increase the weight to 110 pounds.
If I cannot do all 60 reps without stopping, then I’ll keep the weight at the same level until I can.
This not only increases strength but also improves Type 1 muscle fibers. Thanks to high reps and low weights, you can improve endurance while active.
In other words, you’re less likely to get tired.
I find this beneficial in just about everything in life, whether I’m playing an 18 on a golf course or simply cleaning the house. Besides, my job wouldn’t benefit from bulking up.
Can you see Hulk sitting at a desk trying to crack out another WordPress tutorial?
Breaking Records with Exercises
When it comes to exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, and the like, I’ll find my maximum limit by pushing to fail. This means I’ll keep doing push-ups until I can’t do them any longer.
Then, I’ll cut that number in half and add 25%. These will be the reps I’ll use throughout the week. Keep in mind that I’m mostly focused on endurance.
For example, let’s say that I can do 25 push-ups right now before collapsing. I find this base number on a Sunday so that fatigue doesn’t ultimately affect the outcome when working out that day.
I’ll take that 25 and cut it in half, usually rounding down. This would give me 12. Then, I would add 25%, which would increase the reps by three.
Throughout the week, I would aim for 15 push-ups per set, which I do three sets usually three times per week. Then the following Sunday, I would push to fail again to see if I break a personal record.
The idea is to work on those Type 1 fibers while still pushing to improve overall strength.
Success is All About Having the Right Mindset
In the end, it all comes down to having the right mindset about any workout or diet plan. If you don’t think something is going to work, you’re less likely to put in maximum effort.
This is because you’ve already got it in your head that you’ll fail, so why give it you’re all?
But when you start keeping track of what you can do today versus what you’ll wind up doing a month from now, it’s harder to argue with progressive results. Especially when you go to the gym with the mindset that you’ll do just a bit more today than you did last time.
Do you have to keep adding more weight as you go? Absolutely not. It all comes down to what you want to achieve.
Everyone has a different view of what they want to look like or how strong they want or need to be. As I’ve said before, I have no interest in looking like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
This is why I maintain a slow and steady pace. I don’t need to ego lift to stroke my ego. I get enough of that realizing that I’m stronger today than when I was 20.
How Do You Motivate Yourself to Push that Extra Effort?
You don’t have to continuously break personal records to achieve a healthy disposition. A lot of people are simply in maintenance mode today, and that’s perfectly fine.
Everyone is unique with specific wants and needs.
But no matter what you’re fitness goals are, you’ll still need to find ways to motivate yourself. For me, it’s all about breaking those records.
Sure, I’ll eventually go into maintenance mode as well. And when the time comes, I’ll have to find something else that motivates me to continue.
But until then, I’m looking forward to shattering some personal bests!