In the last four years I’ve developed, for the first time in my life, the habit of working out. I love weight training — purely love it. I love lifting heavy weights, I love moving my body (itself a rather heavy weight) through the world in new and novel-to-me ways. I love the growth and improvement, the sense of accomplishment I get from learning to do new things.
I enjoy reading fitness books. The New Workout This, the Ripped Body that. 30 Days to Whatever Things We Put On the Cover. I find these books, while frequently implausible in their claims, to be inspirational. The more reasonable ones are still laughably out of my reach for the most past. I am not a testosterone-fueled twenty-year-old cis-male. I am never going to look like your cover photo. But I find them encouraging — aspirational rather than despair-inducing.
There is one thing, though, endemic to fitness books and programs, that I must willfully ignore. The idea of constant improvement.
There’s a mantra in fitness that each workout ought to bring some small modicum of improvement over the last one. A bit more weight. A better time. One more rep. A bit farther. If I adhere to this thinking, I inevitably hurt myself. My tendons get horribly sore and inflamed to the point where I can’t go about my daily life activities. The idea that continuous improvement must mean constant and unceasing improvement is a recipe for disaster for me.
So I read the books, and watch the YouTube videos. And I go and work out. And I ask myself what a reasonable metric for improvement might be. Measurable improvement each week? Each month? I’m past the age of forty — maybe simply Not Losing Physical Ability is metric sufficient unto the day?
I don’t have a clear answer on this point. But I do know that, each time I go to the Y and lift, I should NOT exhort myself to lift heavier weights every time.
Nopetopus says nope.