Everyone who exercises hits plateaus and has struggles. We all know what it is like to not accomplish all the goals we wish to accomplish or to get frustrated when we don’t look the way we want to look.
But thank goodness, that doesn’t mean we can’t point to massive success along the way as well. Sometimes that success is in the form of results. We look in the mirror and our waist is a bit trimmer or are arms are noticeably larger.
And other times there are key moments, game-changing moments. Moments we can look at and say with confidence they have forever changed how we do things, and everything will be different now moving forward.
I am constantly researching. Constantly asking questions. Always seeking improvement upon what I already know and upgrades so I can become a better version of myself. And sometimes the payoff is insane.
I would like to explore five obvious game-changer moments. Five times the paradigm shift was so obvious that my fitness career has very clearly not been the same since.There are key moments, game-changing moments. Moments we can look at and say with confidence they have forever changed how we do things, and everything will be different now moving forward. Click To Tweet
Game-Changer #1: Not the Back I’m Looking For
The first one goes back to the very beginning of my training. I already understood that a rounded back was not a good thing for most exercises. I knew I needed to maintain a strong and neutral curve in my lower back when doing many exercises, and thought I nailed the form perfectly.
A trainer saw me one day and told me my back was rounded. Indignant me scoffed at the possibility I wasn’t as perfect as I thought I was. She politely suggested I do the same exercise in front of a mirror. And what I saw made me want to vomit. I couldn’t have been more wrong about my form.
And from that point onward I never made assumptions about doing anything correctly. I used the mirrors. I researched. I checked and rechecked everything. And not only am I an intense stickler to form to this very day, but I have not had a gym-related injury in well over a decade.
Listen when given advice! Focus on form 100% of the time. And always verify that you’re actually doing things correctly.
Game-Changer #2: Carry On
Sometimes you try a new exercise and immediately afterwards you feel like something has changed in your body. And who knew it would be with an exercise that is so damn simple.
There is no exercise less complex than a weighted carry. In its purest form, you pick up a heavy weight and you just walk with it. But the fitness benefits are off the charts, and somehow it seems like you feel it immediately.
Every time I do this magical exercise, when I put the weights down I feel light on my feet, like I can run and conquer the world. You might have to wait weeks or even months to feel the benefits of some exercises. Others you at least get to feel a strong pump right off the bat.
However, weighted carries are the first time I ever tried an exercise and knew I had immediately revolutionized my fitness routine.
Game-Changer #3: Stop Pushing that Damn Bag
I love hitting the heavy bag. It’s pretty much always my cardio of choice.
But it’s inherently different than every other exercise. You’re not just moving a whole lot and building up a ton of sweat. You’re preparing for the moment when someone is trying to punch you in the face. And it’s very much in your best interest for that not to happen.
And so you treat it with a greater level of urgency. Do a different exercise wrong and you feel elbow pain or your calf begins to ache. Do this one wrong, and you’re beaten to a pulp.
And thus it has been my experience that people are more receptive to unsolicited advice with the heavy bag than with all other exercises.
Just like I was when a former boxing coach told me I needed to strike the bag, not push it. Whenever you see a novice hitting a heavy bag, that thing is flopping all over the place. And the puncher feels great, like they’re accomplishing so much.
However, if you really evaluate what they’re doing, you find out they could be hitting the bag harder. They’re really just shoving the bag all around. And worst of all, they’re right in front of the bag. If it were a person, they’d be getting hit in the face. A lot.
So I learned to snap my arm out and hit the bag with the end of the punch. Standing close enough to hit and far enough to not be hit. The bag moves much less, and my time in the gym is forever changed.
Game-Changer #4: What the Hell is a Hinge?
There are a handful of exercises that are the cornerstone of the gym, but two really are the most important in any exercise arsenal: The squat and the deadlift. You’ll find Scrawny Joe in the corner doing bicep curls all day long, gaining a whole lot of nothing. But Beth the Beast, she’ll be doing deadlifts until she drops, with sweat filling up the whole gym, and gains galore.
So, of course, I made these two mega-important movements staples of my routine as well. The problem was: At some point, I started noticing that I felt like what I was doing was the same exercise, but I was calling it two different things.
That couldn’t be right. I hit the internet and hit it hard. Ultimately I would find the same statement over and over again to explain the difference between squats and deadlifts. The squat is a squat movement, but the deadlift is a hinge movement.
All clear, right?
Not. At. All.
And thus began the process of really digging and digging until I fully and completely understood the difference between a squat and a hinge, and then breaking years of bad habits so I could benefit from this knowledge. And benefit I did!
I lot of research and hard work, and I have not been the same person since. Total game-changer.
Game-Changer #5: The Simple Tweak
Every exercise should be done with impeccable form. It is the heart of making gains and not getting injured. However, there are levels. Every exercise can be tweaked and tweaked, growing more and more effective with each slight adjustment.
And that’s where intense research comes in, and pays off time and time again.
For almost every exercise I do, I can recall a video or an article in which the slightest adjustment took my workouts to another level. For back exercises, picture yourself pulling with your elbows, not with your hands. For chest exercises, pull your shoulders back and lead with your chest. Don’t look down when squatting, either straight ahead or slightly up.
And the list goes on and on. For every exercise out there, if it’s not doing what it’s supposed to, or you’re not feeling it to the level you want to, there’s a slight adjustment just waiting for you around the corner. All you need to do is keep learning, and you’ll eventually find it.
And it will be a game-changer!
What do all five of these game-changers have in common? They all involve being receptive to knowledge from outside of our own bubble. We should read articles and books, all the time. Watch videos. Listen to trainers. Research and learn and be excessively receptive to the possibility of wisdom coming from every corner.
When we do that, changing the game will become the norm. And every day we can reach a whole new level.