We’ve all got our zones of comfort. Some people can’t stand a five degree increase or decrease in temperature. Others feel the need to sit if their heart rate goes up a little. But results occur when you step outside of your comfort zone, so get used to it.
How Overload Makes You Fitter
There is a simple concept to know.
Stressing your muscles, your heart, your lungs and every joint, bone and ligament in the body, acts as a stimulus for growth.
Your body doesn’t just repair the damage done, it puts a little more there. And because it puts that little bit extra there, you get stronger. Otherwise exercise wouldn’t work at all.
When you strain your muscles with resistance training, you’ll damage them. Then they will grow stronger.
When you strain your bones with that same resistance training – or even by jumping – your bones will become more dense and less likely to break.
But the real catalyst here, is that point where you step outside of your comfort zone.
Normal Band of Tolerance
There is a certain amount of work that we do on a daily basis and our body repairs the tiny bit of damage we do at night while we sleep. That’s why sleep is so important.
There are all sorts of ways to get yourself out of your comfort zone. You can:
- Exercise longer than you usually do.
- Exercise in the cold.
- Exercise in the heat.
- Exercise when you are hungry.
- Exercise when you are full.
- Lift heavier weight than you’re used to.
- Lift moderate weight more times than you’re used to.
- Do exercises you aren’t used to doing.
- Change the time of day you usually exercise.
- Enter yourself into a competition, such as a 5K race or a weightlifting competition.
- Do two workouts in a day.
There is a way to stress every single muscle, tendon, ligament and bone. This isn’t rocket science – it can be understood.
Just pick your goal, find the limits of your comfort zone, and get well outside of them.
Now, there is a bit of judgment to be used as to how far you go out of your comfort zone. An experienced fitness trainer is well equipped to help you through this.
If you go too far, you’ll injure yourself and set yourself back. Please use good judgment so you can stay in the game.
The Reason To Keep Pushing Yourself
We’ve all got to find our own reason for pushing, but there is a pretty amazing state of living on the other side of all of this discomfort.
As you keep pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone, you’ll find that your comfort zone becomes the size of Texas. You can thrive in any environment and under any circumstances.
This is extremely beneficial to a soldier who may not have had a hot meal for a week or even a change of underwear.
But to a father or a mother, it makes you more patient. You don’t get agitated and snap at your kids when you haven’t eaten. The hunger doesn’t bother you as much.
I can list the thousand benefits that come along with being exceptionally fit, but you wouldn’t believe me until you experienced it for yourself.
So do it and experience it for yourself.
What if We Never Leave Our Comfort Zones?
If you never leave your comfort zone while exercising, then you will not make any significant improvement.
You can absolutely reap the benefits of maintenance without leaving your comfort zone. You can maintain flexibility, strength, endurance, balance and every other metric just by going to the gym on a regular basis. And I’m not trying to discourage that.
If you don’t go to the gym or exercise at all, then your body is on a steady decline. There is no stimulus to tell it to regrow and have it get a little stronger.
How Can This Be Applied?
Personal trainers are great at getting people out of their comfort zones.
But if you’re training yourself, be objective about it. Say, “How many pushups would I expect myself to be able to do in one go?” Write that number down, add an absurd amount to it, then do that number of pushups.
If you are able to make the number, no matter how many you did, you’re still thinking too small.
Review every item on the list at the beginning of this article and take a training session dedicated to stressing your body out in that way. Then start combining them. And that is, by no means, a complete list.
You’ve got to use some common sense, though. If you’re a rock climber, don’t try climbing the side of a cliff with no rope, no sleep and 24 hours without a meal.
But you can find ways to stress yourself. You should be somewhat scared of your workout to come. That’s how you know whether or not you’re outside of your comfort zone.
If you think you can do it, then the workout isn’t hard enough. You go to the gym to fail, don’t forget that.
Wired for Survival
This is all part of the mental game of fitness.
Your brain is wired for survival. But if someone said “Okay, we’re going to put a 500 pound bar on your back and you’ve got to squat it.” What would you say? It makes sense to say, “No way!”
The reason being that you would likely do irreparable damage to yourself, unless you are already a powerlifter.
So let’s say that your heaviest squat was 225 pounds. Somewhere in between 225 and 500 pounds should be your workout.
If you aren’t backed into that corner, you won’t fight yourself out.
The whole reason you are exercising is to increase your survival. When something bad happens, you should be more than equipped to handle it. Exercise also prevents all sorts of disease. It just makes sense to hit the gym.
Put yourself in a position where you are doing a workout that you think might be somewhere close to that borderline.
And do it under a trainer’s supervision so that you stay safe.
This is why some of the craziest people are also the fittest.
Some people don’t have that cautious voice of self-preservation in their heads. They can be extreme and ride motorcycles and drink too much. These kinds of people also aren’t representative of the majority of fit people. But they are the biggest and the loudest. And they are great people to have around when the shit hits the fan, or even if you just need a hand to move houses.
They are good because they went far outside of their comfort zones.
Now, a little bit of heat or a missed meal doesn’t shake them. Tossing them off a house or hitting them with a truck doesn’t shake them much either. They could stay up all night working and talk to you the next day and you wouldn’t be able to tell.
I’ve always enjoyed being in the business of creating these super-able human beings. It is what makes personal training so rewarding.
You see, when someone starts having gains in their own personal fitness, their whole life changes. They become more productive at work, they sleep better, they become better fathers and mothers, they become leaders in their community.
That is a personal fitness trainer’s product.