How to Tell If a Fitness Challenge Is a Waste of Time

I’m a big fan of fitness. I once did a triathlon, even though halfway through I knew I never wanted to do triathlon again. I begged my coach to give me weightlifting workouts that are notoriously difficult. Heck, I started the Lifehacker Fitness Challenge , our monthly exercise, to try something new. But you won’t catch me doing 75Hard or 10 Day Abs.

This is because there is a difference between a good challenge and a bad challenge. A good fitness challenge suits your goals, has a manageable workload, and will end up with some results you can work with, whether mental or physical. The bad one is simply wasting your time and making you feel unhappy.

So let’s take a look at the downsides of bad tasks (spoiler alert: you’ll find most of them on social media) and then talk about what to look for instead.

Does the fitness challenge view suffering as a plus?

Let’s start with the biggest lie that viral problems tell you: suffering is a goal worth striving for. Along the way, there is another lie: suffering is a necessary part of the exercise, that the more unhappy you are, the more you lose weight, that the patience you hate is how you develop mental toughness.

All of this is not true. Successful athletes don’t walk the path to greatness for obvious reasons: If you were a coach, would you like your athlete to feel terrible every day? Or do you want them to feel good so they can train consistently and be successful in competition?

Mental toughness can help you be assertive when things aren’t going well, but you don’t build mental toughness just by making your life suck. I once worked with a mental trainer and she never once told me to do the things I hated to build my mental toughness. Instead, she advised me to pay attention to the thoughts that arise when I lose confidence and explore ways to redirect or rethink those thoughts so that I can stay focused and stay within my zone.

Are you expected to blindly follow things?

Mental toughness often means knowing when to quit smoking. You will learn this in part by overcoming difficulties and knowing that they can be safe. This requires mentoring or other appropriate supervision. You also need to learn when to do nothing. Blind adherence to a challenge, because rules are rules, does not contribute to the development of these abilities.

There is something to be said to trust the program or your coach, but this should only be applied when you have reason to believe that the program or coach is trustworthy. Scammers love to sell people a bad product or unsustainable business model (see Every MLM) and then tell their followers that when they fail, it is their own fault, not the scammer’s. The same idea works with draconian fitness challenges. If you are afraid of failure because you believe that this judgment is for you as an individual, chances are you have been deceived.

Is this a universal task?

The goal of the training program is to meet you where you are and take you to the next level. If you are currently running a 10 minute mile, in a good running program, you will be doing light and hard runs compared to your current fitness level, and you will probably be running 9:30 miles by the time you are done with it. … Likewise, the lifting program will start with a weight that you can handle at present, and by the end you will be able to lift a little more.

Networked tasks often require specific sets, repetitions or times, they require a certain amount of workouts every week, and they don’t have a period of time to build up the task’s workload, and there is no way to progress if the task doesn’t have enough for you. Probably, there is someone who can do the job, as it is written, but it’s you?

Instead, look for programs that are tailored to your level of experience and allow you to select the appropriate amount of work. For example, a lifting program in which you bench press on a three-piece bench at 80% of your maximum will work whether you bench 95 pounds (80% = 76) or 405 pounds (80% = 324).

Does he make empty promises?

So many nonsense fitness tasks promise that you will get shorter, lose weight, lose weight, or do something tonic, or work out, or get abs. But there is no reason to believe that after exercising outside the calendar for a certain number of days, you will get a body like the influencer who sells the program. The only people who can be shredded in 21 days are people who were under 21 days prior to shredding to begin with.

Any training program should pay off, but it should make sense. If I do a speed-oriented running program, I expect it to make me faster. If I do the Bulgarian weightlifting program, I expect it to build my confidence with heavy weights. If I am doing a volume-oriented weight-lifting program, I expect it to help me gain muscle mass. If I do ab exercises for 30 days, I expect … uh … abs pain?

What happens when it’s over?

You will breathe a sigh of relief and then return to your normal life, which doesn’t feel like a challenge? This is a red flag. Being healthy, being fit, or being successful in sports are all long-term goals, not something you do in 30 days and then give up on them.

Who will get better in the end: The person who starts exercising three days a week and then increases it to four and then to five, and within a year becomes one of those people who always get up at dawn and jog. district? Or does someone who barely exercise completes a task in which they exhaust themselves every day for 30 days in a row, and then return to barely exercising again?

If you are training to achieve an athletic goal, a well-designed plan will guide you through the base-building steps (which will get you to peak) and the intensification or peak (which will set you up for good competitive results). You don’t fight a workout block just because it’s difficult, you do it because it gives you something meaningful: more muscle mass, more strength, better conditioning, or whatever is its goal. Each stage of learning does its job and prepares you for the next.

Does this encourage black and white thinking?

Life is full of gray areas. Messy eating is often associated with black and white thinking, which completely prohibits the use of certain foods. Our thinking patterns in other types of mental illness, such as anxiety and depression, can also fall into the trap of black and white thinking. A fitness challenge that encourages this mindset is unlikely to lead you to healthy habits in the long run.

So fitness tasks turn aspects of fitness that should be normal into things that overwhelm you. Why do three sets of 10 push-ups when you can do 100 a day? they are asking. Or instead of eating healthier most of the time, let’s cut sugar off for a whole month .

Many fitness problems involve a dietary component, sometimes associated with certain foods or meal plans. Let me just remind you that this is basically an emergency diet, and if you’re feeling tempted to try it, there are better ways to use that energy .

So what does a good task or program look like?

A good kind of competition is just a fitness program that shouldn’t be repeated over and over again. This is usually what makes recovery difficult, such as when I started a weightlifting program inspired by the Bulgarian program and I had to eat and sleep like it was my job to just keep up. In the end, it was rewarding and even enjoyable, but I had to pause some of my other life priorities to be able to do it. When it was over, I was happy to return to my usual training style.

However, training programs don’t have to be like that. It might just be a workout program. You carry out the program for several weeks or months, and in the end, you are ready for a new one, just like it.

Anyway, here’s what a good view looks like:

  • The amount of work and the complexity of the work starts at a level that you can handle.
  • If it gets harder towards the end, there is a reason (other than wishful thinking) to believe that you can handle it by the end.
  • It has a specific goal that aligns with your training goals.
  • It provides a healthy balance between your physical fitness and the rest of your life.
  • If it’s hard, then the hardest is for a purposeful reason, not just to make you suffer.
  • You are confident in your ability to determine when and when to quit smoking.

This checklist tackles most of the silly social media fitness problems, but just about any legitimate workout program will pass this test.

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