Push Beyond Your Comfort Zone With These 3 Tips
You've probably heard the quote "if it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you."
But why is it we seem to be going hard in the gym and with making better nutritional choices, that we just don't see progress?
Maybe it's habits creeping in, stress and poor recovery killing your gains, or maybe you're just ignorant to the extra calories that you are eating.
Related - Ultimate Guide to Setting Fitness Goals
Whatever it is, it takes a bit of discomfort for us to grow — meaning you'll have to feel hungry, work out harder, or pushing past what you previously thought was possible.
Our comfort zones are our safety bubble. That means in order for us to experience a change, we need to go beyond that bubble. That doesn't mean you have to go from a sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon — it simply means you should start walking first.
Trust me, I know how it feels. You're trying, but you aren't really going outside of your bubble. You attempt a few new things, but ruin it with four old habits. Maybe you just have a lot of weight to lose like me. Whatever it is, if you can give 1% more in your workouts and nutrition, that means you'll soon be 10% better or further along.
It's like a game of chess. Each move you make — good or bad — puts you closer or further away from your goals.
Three Tips to Pushing Past Your Comfort Zone
In order for us to push out of our comfort zones, there's a physical aspect, mental aspect, and some things you should know about pushing yourself.
Everyone works a little different. By that, I mean some people may listen to death metal and think back to an event to amp yourself up. Maybe you meditate and stay present. Use whatever it is that pushes you, and use it often.
1.) The Mental Aspect
Like I said, it just takes doing one rep more, five pounds more, or just 1% more.
What we tell ourselves in our mind will make or break your progress. It's the difference between justifying skipping this workout versus feeling compelled to do it.
Our bodies are capable of a lot more than you give yourself credit for, so empower your mind and body with external or internal motivation.
If you are more externally motivated, you may want to find a workout partner who's just a bit above your fitness level to help. This may push yourself to do more — essentially "competing" with your partner. This can de-motivate you if you've had negative experiences in the past, though.
I personally like music. Studies suggest that music can improve your performance by increasing your pain tolerance levels. Music can increase your pleasure, and some music can help push you to go faster and harder. Picking the right music is important.
Try a healthy reward after you break a personal record — go for a massage or get some new workout clothes.
For those who are internally motivated, ask yourself "why" you want to do this. It's not because you want to fit into a certain pants size... it's deeper.
Understanding your "why" is critical because when times get tough, you have to remind yourself why you started... and it should put a fire under your butt.
Maybe you want to get healthy so you can play with your kids, walk them down the aisle, or play with grandchildren that are on the way. Maybe you have a loved one who neglected their bodies and are dealing with ailments and you don't want to end up like that.
Whatever it is, dig deep and find what really pushes you.
2.) The Physical Aspect
If you ask anyone who has trained for a long time if they think the mental or physical aspect is more important when pushing yourself, they will say mental.
Your mental aspect is what pushes you to perform more exercise, heavier reps, and faster running. The physical aspect is just that, physical.
Physically going farther is intuitive — make the exercise harder.
If you are strength training, that means:
- More weight
- More reps
- Slower tempo
- Explosive moves
Adding intensity can be as easy as shortening your rest periods, slowing your tempo down while lifting, or adding a pause in your rep. For example, pause for one to two seconds with the bar at your chest on a barbell bench press.
Fortunately, it doesn't take large jumps for us to notice some improvement. In fact, you only want to overload your body just a bit outside of that comfort zone to make growth. These adjustments can be made when working out by yourself or in a class.
3.) When You Should Watch Pushing Yourself
Learning how to listen to your body is important. Are you really tired or are you just not trying to go workout? Is your shoulder really hurting, or are you using that as an excuse to not go in?
Pushing yourself to discomfort is what it takes to get to the next level. But when experiencing pain, that's another story.
Discomfort is learning something new, pushing yourself just past what you thought you could do. You're going to feel scared, you may feel uncertain, but that's the sign that you need to take the challenge and go for it.
Being smart with your training will keep you injury-free, so listen to your body to make sure injuries don't slow your progress.
Wrapping It Up
Look, I'm sitting here writing this article after seeing the scale said I gain weight. I'm doing what I think is right, but the scale doesn't lie.
This article hopefully helps you realize that you are capable of much more than you currently are doing. You can go harder, faster, get stronger, and get leaner if you push outside of your comfort zone.