How to Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure

When you choose you own fitness adventure, you open up a world of possibilities for getting stronger…

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

…and you make it more likely that you’ll stick to whatever you choose, greatly increasing your odds of seeing the improvements you want to see by exercising.

But let’s back up to the 1980s.

As a kid, I absolutely loved the thrill of “choose your own adventure” books.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that I always seemed to die by falling off a cliff or getting eaten by a tiger. Anywho…

I got to be in control, make the choices, and follow my own path which made it absolutely riveting.

So it confuses me when I meet women and they immediately apologize to me for not doing a specific kind of workout…

“I’m sorry…I don’t do ________,” or “I know it’s not ideal, but I like doing ________.”

You get the gist.

This, frankly, is bollocks because:

  • As long as you like what you’re doing, that’s what matters.
  • You don’t have to please anyone else.
  • There’s no one perfect way to exercise.

Let’s explore why choosing your own fitness adventure makes it more likely to hit your goals. (And if you want to see two new kickass programs from my pals that’ll allow you to do just that, keep reading down to the end.)

On Motivation and Consistency

Choosing your own fitness adventure rules for a couple huge reasons.

1) Time and time again, studies show that a key driver of intrinsic motivation for any behavior is autonomy.

Put another way, you’re more likely to stick to something without the need for punishment or reward when you’re given more choice in the matter. Using the carrot or the stick to lead behavior change is less effective than boosting self-motivation.

You're more likely to stick to something when you have choice in the matter. Click To Tweet

If you want anecdotal examples, just think about how jazzed you are to do something when you only have one option…

…and it’s one you’re not particularly psyched about.

On the other hand, if you make your own choices, you develop ownership which strengthens your investment in the process.

Fitness is no different.

2) Consistency makes it more likely you’ll be successful.

This one’s kind of obvious but follow me here.

When your workout routine isn’t one you really like, you flat out won’t want to do it.

Now, if you have specific goals – say, getting stronger or improving your body composition by building muscle – it’ll be harder to reach them if you don’t consistently exercise.

(Note: Exercising isn’t actually the best way to improve your body composition, but that’s a topic for another day. And, you don’t have to exercise hard every single day to get the benefit. But when you can only muster one workout a month because you hate it, don’t expect to make any progress.)

Three Key Questions for Your Fitness Adventure

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

Okay so great, choosing your own fitness adventure helps boost motivation and consistency…

…but how do you go about finding the workout that’s right for you?

You’ve gotta ask yourself three questions:

  • Where do you come from?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • Why are you doing it?

Let’s dig in.

1) Where do you come from? 

I don’t mean this literally. (I’m from Springfield, Massachusetts…United States…Earth…Milky Way…).

I mean, how the heck did you get here now with your current circumstances?

  • What’s your strength like?
  • Your health status?
  • Do you have any old or new injuries?
  • What’s your schedule like?
  • Really, how much free time are you willing to spend on fitness? (Don’t lie.)
  • How much dough can you spend on fitness?
  • …etc.

2) Where do you want to go? 

Again, don’t take this literally. I mean, what are your goals?

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What’s the intended outcome?
  • What’s your timeline?

And last but not least…

3) Why are you doing it? 

This is the most important question of all. And as with any diet or lifestyle change, including fitness, you’ve gotta get crystal clear about your motivation. If you can get to the root of your why, even better. To do that, ask why – and answer it – at least five times.

  • Is it a desire to show up in the world as your best self?
  • To reach your full potential?
  • Do you want to be healthy & strong for your kiddos?
  • Do you want to see your grandchildren grow up?
  • Is it to live independently and with quality of life when you’re older?

Keep this reason at the forefront of your mind. It’s easier to stick to change when you have a why.

It's easier to stick to change when you have a why. Click To Tweet

Finding What You Like

So, if choosing your own fitness adventure is key to happiness and success, how can you find what you like?

For better or worse, the Interwebz and even your local community – are stuffed full of options for workout plans, gyms, and classes. You could probably spend years trying them all.

Here are some tips:

  • Embrace being a beginner. So many people won’t even try because they’re afraid of looking stupid. Tough love coaching moment: Get over yourself. Caring coaching moment: Nobody expects beginners to be masters. In fact, quite the opposite! Run with it.
  • Give something 5-10 chances before you decide if you love it or hate it. On one hand, sinking hundreds of Benjamins into fancy gear right off the bat means you’ll regret it if you decide it’s not for you. On the other, if you hang for a while you might find the workout starts to feel awesome once you’ve gotten over the urge to pee yourself from nervousness.
  • Ask your friends. Personal recommendations are always better than Amazon reviews or Yelp.
  • Go check it out. Head over to the gym, studio, or rec center and see what it’s like. Feel the vibe. I know it sounds woo but your gut will tell you what’s up. If it’s nervous butterflies, cool. If your hackles go up and the alarm bells are sounding, not cool. If it’s an online program, see if there’s a guarantee or refund policy. You can always test it out!

Two Awesome New Choose-Your-Own-Fitness-Adventure Options

I believe in finding the right fit for your body, goals, and life circumstances. It’s one of the reasons why my 6-week Harder to Kill Challenge has three different fitness tracks.

There are tons of great programs out there that’ll fit your adventure…

…and I’m stoked to share these kickass new choices from Noelle Tarr and Jen Sinkler.

Noelle and Jen were both speakers at my Women’s Strength Summit last year. They’re both super sharp, lovely, strong women who are passionate about helping others. And, I’m proud to call them friends.

Fitness Adventure 1: Get Strong From Home

If building strength sounds great to you but you 1) don’t know how to begin and 2) would rather do it from the comfort of you own home, Strong From Home is the program you’ve been waiting for.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

I’ve seen how tirelessly Noelle’s worked on her program, testing, refining, and tweaking it. She’s known for her instructional videos with minimal equipment that you can do right in your living room, and she’ll help you make a plan to reach your goals. Trust…this is effective stuff.

Click here to watch Noelle’s free e-course, or here to read more about Strong From Home.

You don’t need a membership to a fancy gym to get strong, and Noelle’s proving it. It also covers the mindset of getting stronger, something I personally love.

And to make it even sweeter, Strong From Home is on sale during its debut from January 17-24, 2017. Click here for all the deets, including 3 different levels of support and features.

Fitness Adventure 2: Build Your Bigness

The Bigness Project by Jen Sinkler and Kourtney Thomas is a different kind of adventure beast altogether. It’s all about building bigger muscles. Yes, of course, stronger muscles…but bigger muscles, too.

Kourtney sums it up perfectly by saying:

When clients tell me that their goal is to ‘tone up,’ ‘slim down,’ or ‘look long and lean,’ they’re all telling me the same thing: that they want more muscles. And that’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to get you more muscles.” Brilliant!

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

 

Hypertrophy training is the technical name for it, though some will recognize it better by the term bodybuilding. Of course, everyone’s genetic potential to build muscle will vary – and nobody’s gonna look like Arnold Schwarzenegger by doing this program – but The Bigness Project will help you out a little bit.

And the ladies are talking about the mindset of embracing your bigness, too.

Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure | StephGaudreau.com

Check out the program here – 14 weeks of training with a couple different levels – will be live on January 24, 2017.

To Summarize

You’re more likely to stick to your workout routine when you pick one you like. Instantly, feelings of intrinsic motivation improve, and you’ll be consistent.

To guide you on your fitness adventure, ask three critical questions:

  • Where do I come from?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Why am I doing this?

No matter what your cup of fitness tea, you’ll find loads of options out there. Remember to give something new a fair shake, don’t let being a beginner intimidate you, ask your friends, and test it out when you can.

And of course, check out these two new rad resources from my badass lady friends:

Book covers image by Reformer.com.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes?

Are You Making These Top 3 Training Mistakes? | StephGadureau.comAre you making these top 3 strength training mistakes?

I asked three of my strong lady friends—Jen Sinkler, Diane Fu and Melissa Hartwig—to chime in with the three errors they see people (specifically women) make when they set out to move some weights in the gym.

Last week I posted about strength training as one of the keys to sustainable fat loss, and it sparked some great conversation across social media.

Many people said that they’re interested in basic strength training but they don’t know how to get started.

[Side note: If you’re looking for a top-notch powerlifting program that focuses on the squat, bench press, and deadlift, I want to tell you about Unapologetically Powerful. It’s a new program from powerlifting badasses Jen Sinkler and Jen Blake, and it’s designed to get you silly-strong and—if you’re so—ready to jump into your first meet.

The Jens have spent hours developing this resource, and it’s incredible. I’ve had a chance to go through their demo videos myself and apply them to my training. The cues are spot on, and I’ve every confidence they’ll help you get strongrrrrrrr (as Jen S says).]

 

Okay, on to the Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comJen Sinkler — Unapologetically Powerful, powerlifter, & gym owner

1. Not getting proper instruction at the outset. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard women say that they stuck to the cardio section of the gym because they found free weights section to be intimidating, and I get that!

Even once you’re sold on the benefits of resistance training, it can be difficult to know what to do with the equipment. While some lifts are pretty straightforward, most have layers of cueing involved that both help keep you safe and maximize the effectiveness of the lift by recruiting the right muscle groups in the right sequence. Always, but especially when you’re just getting started, it can be invaluable to seek the guidance of an expert.

Either join a group fitness class where the instructors are well-qualified and attentive, or consider purchasing even a few private or semi-private sessions with a personal trainer to hammer home form for some of the main movement categories (such as squat, press, upper-body push, and upper-body pull, plus rotation and anti-rotation).

2. Not using progressive overload. I admit it, I’m a jock. All of my best friends are jocks, constantly pushing themselves and each other. Inevitably, everything turns into a contest, including how much weight they can lift, and it can occasionally get out of hand. With that personality type, reigning in the urge to give it their all, all the time, is the name of the game. With many others, the opposite is true: Rather than exploring their limits, I see people reaching for the same weights week in and week out. The problem with that strategy is that the body is too smart for that — it adapts to the demands you place upon it, and thus your progress stalls out.

So, it’s important to capitalize on the principle of progressive overload, where you very gradually increase the weight you use from session to session. That way you’re constantly making progress! That said, progress isn’t linear, and you won’t be able to add weight every single time until infinity.

When you get to the point you can’t add more weight, that’s when you change the repetition scheme (say you drop from 8 to 10 reps to 5 to 6) until your body adapts to that and you need to change it again. Generally speaking, you work from higher to lower reps, then start over with a higher rep scheme again with the brand new weight you can do for that many reps.

3. Not finding a training style they enjoy. Just as there are many different types of yoga (anywhere from sweaty, fast-paced power yoga to yin yoga, which is slow and still) and endurance events (from obstacle courses to 5Ks to ultramarathons), there are many different types of resistance training.

There’s powerlifting, which focuses on the barbell squat, bench press, and deadlift; there’s Olympic lifting, which homes in on the barbell snatch and the clean and jerk; calisthenics, which uses bodyweight only; various styles of kettlebell training, some of which focus on strength and others more on efficiency; the sport of strongman, which includes a number of timed challenges using various equipment; CrossFit, which combines a number of modalities from gymnastics to Olympic lifting; and various bootcamp-style classes that employ dumbbells only, just to name a few.

Here’s the thing I think a lot of people miss: you don’t have to do anything you don’t enjoy. More to the point, you probably won’t stick with a regimen if you don’t enjoy yourself — so it’s well worth your time to explore which training styles you like best. Take a class, drop in for a session, take a workshop. Make the pursuit of better fitness one of the grand experiments of your life, and that life will be a longer and more robust one.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comMelissa Hartwig — Whole30, RKC kettlebell certified

1. Assuming heavy weights are for guys only. You’re not limited to the little pink dumbbells just because you’re a woman, and lifting heavy weights with a strength-focus won’t make you big and bulky like a professional bodybuilder. There are many benefits to picking up heavy stuff, including building strong, healthy bones; developing functional fitness that will serve you well in your everyday life (think helping a friend carry a couch, or picking your tantruming toddler up off the floor); and increasing muscle mass (and your metabolism).

2. Not learning from a qualified trainer. If you’re going to strength train, you need to learn proper form, and you can’t do that by watching Instagram videos. Seek out an experienced, qualified trainer to teach you to perform the movements effectively and safely, and teach you how to work them into an overall training routinte to suit your goals and context.

3. Testing, not training. It’s fun to pull 1-rep maxes and go up in weight every time you set foot in the gym. But strenth training isn’t just about setting PRs; it’s about building functional strength that stays with you and keeps you healthy (at the gym and in real life). This means doing the sometimes boring, not-so-sexy stuff like assistance exercises, mobility work, and technique work at lighter weight. You’ve got to pay to play, and all that training will really pay off when the time is right to test your new capacity.

Are You Making These Top 3 Strength Training Mistakes? | stupideasypaleo.comDiane Fu — FuBarbell, olympic weightlifting coach

1. Not lifting heavy or often enough – Spending time in 85%+ range for weights and getting accustomed to heavy loads and frequently

2. Undereating – Not having enough resources to recover

3. Diffusing effort – Not focusing on the basic movements like Squats, Deadlifts, Presses, and Olympic lifts and too much on other ancillary exercises/conditioning

Time to get strong!

Pin this for later:

Are You Making These Top 3 Training Mistakes? | StephGadureau.com

Photo: Fresh Burst Photography

Questions for these ladies or me about strength training mistakes? Leave a comment below!