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Using Personal Records to Push Yourself

By Miguel J. Ortiz

We would love to have all of our goals be met right now, but the reality is we cannot eliminate the work that must be done to get where we are going. Whether you’re trying to increase speed or strength, the journey or process to get there cannot be skipped over or ignored. All your fitness goals will require a quality amount of work, understanding and learning to ensure progress is being made. We know working hard is important but when do you push the envelope, and what should we expect when we do so?

First, let’s take a look at what is known as a Personal Record (PR). Setting yourself up with a baseline is important because before you can get to where you’re going you need to know where you’ve been. You can have several different baselines. For example, you can set a goal for running a mile within a certain amount of time or maybe you have a push up, pull up or squat goal. Regardless of the goal, you’ll need to first understand how long it takes to run a mile, or see how many push-ups, pull ups or squats you can do, etc.

For beginners in fitness, I recommend setting aside one day per month to do a test out. What I mean is that during this day you’re going to push yourself to the max and try to beat your previous records, ultimately creating a new PR. If you are more advanced, and depending the type of training you are doing, you might want to set aside two days as beating your previous PR can be pretty taxing on the body. You might need a day to recover before jumping into the next movement or exercise. Nonetheless, we now have a planned day in our training routine where we know we need to turn it up.

The nice thing is that setting yourself up with an initial baseline or PR will help you determine how hard you were working in the previous days leading up to test out. For example, if you only did one more push up during your PR test out and you had a month to train, as much as that may be progress you still need to check yourself and ask, “Did I work hard enough?” or “Could I have pushed myself further?” These reflective questions will help you challenge yourself appropriately and can lead to new PRs.

Let’s keep in mind that this type of goal setting has nothing to do with weight loss or body fat percentage. Your hard work, eating habits and consistency will be the only thing that determines your weight loss or decrease in body fat and that can’t be controlled because that’s relative to one’s metabolism and other factors. This is solely about knowing when and when not to push yourself to the max by planning accordingly.

So, go out and set a new PR, create a plan to work hard every day, be disciplined about your daily objectives and have fun crushing your goals.

Miguel J. Ortiz is a personal trainer in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a member of the National Personal Trainer Institute and a Certified Nutritional Consultant with more than a decade of professional experience. He can be found on Instagram at @migueljortiz.

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