Challenging Yourself in Challenging Times.

In normal times a common reason for someone to hire a personal trainer is motivation. What happens when our lives and economies come to a stand still? Does that mean we just stand still too? Not at all. Any person who has achieved anything significant in their lives can attest to the evidence of what goal setting can do to push you through even the toughest of times. More often than not, successful entrepreneurs, athletes and those who have career fulfillment started by setting goals for themselves. There are different ways you can challenge yourself and improve strength even while at home. Below are a few common methods and their applications which are used by coaches, athletes and fitness professionals everywhere.

Time vs Distance Method.

Building cardiovascular strength improves lung capacity (to increase oxygen intake) which leads to improved blood oxygen circulation, thus helping muscles to recover quickly. Building cardiovascular strength is important to building physical strength because quick muscle recovery yields greater time spent in exertion during strength training sessions thus increasing strength over time. Not to mention, as well all know, cardiovascular training is an important fat burning tool.

This method is a common way that I challenge my clients, student athletes and myself. Essentially your are giving yourself a distance to meet in a given time, or a time to meet for a given distance. For example, giving yourself 30 minutes to run 5 kilometres or vice versa. Be sure to write your goal down for this method, because having it in front you at all times creates accountability and once achieved, you challenge yourself further. A good placed to start is running 5 kilometres in 32 minutes. To turn up the intensity we focus our attention on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) where the objective is try to go a short distance or time interval using maximal effort (or near maximal). The rule of of thumb for resting while HIIT training is to rest for at least triple the time spent at max effort. For example, sprinting for 20 seconds would require at very least, 60 seconds of rest.

Time vs Repetitions Method.

"Time under tension (TUT)", is a principle used to help individuals increase muscle tissue. Tension is simply full contraction of the muscle (flexing it). There are different times for different goals. If your goal is increased muscle mass, you want to aim for 30 seconds of TUT. If your looking for a good sweat and to maintain muscle tone TUT of 45 seconds to one minute is perfect. Strength and power athletes however are focused on speed and acceleration to move as much mass as possible therefore their time under tension might be as little as 5 seconds.

A way to challenge yourself using this method is to do simple, straight forward exercises within a certain time frame. For example, how many push ups can you do in a minute? Now, try 3 sets of those with one minute rest between each set. Establish what you can do and then set weekly goals for yourself thereafter.

Traditional Method: Weight Vs. Repetitions

The foundation of strength training is built on how much mass one can move for a given number of repetitions. Finding weight in your home without equipment may be tricky, therefore you have to be creative. Doing exercises like Bulgarian Split Squats allow you to bear you body weight on one of your legs as opposed to bearing the weight with both while performing the squat. Adding jumps to your squats or claps to your push ups increases the acceleration component of the Force = Mass x Acceleration which we use to measure strength, therefore you don't need to look for the mass component. For maintenance of strength a good recommendation is between 8-12 repetitions with 1-2 minutes of rest between each set.

At the end of the day nobody is going to hold you accountable and it is completely up to you to use the methods that I have laid out above. Whichever method you choose be sure to set some goals and have the determination to achieve them.

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