I’ve been chewing on something for quite a while now, and it’s not a protein bar. Or maybe it is…
In a never ending plot to solicit more readers, to sell more subscriptions, and to sell more products boasted by these medium, fitness magazines and fitness websites work diabolically to hook people by bombarding readers each week with hypnotic eye-candy; these lists from the “experts” of the 5 most effective exercises to tone_____, or to shape______. These, according to them, are the guaranteed best exercises for glute training, ab flattening, arm toning, etc.
Always in lists of 5, always supported by pictures of smokin’ hot fitness models in immaculate condition, and always guaranteed to produce the “best results”, these lists of the 5 best grab people by the hope, and month after month swing them around until they’re dizzy, before they finally let go only to land not far from where they started.
These lists of top 5 exercises do produce results. That is, they do sell a great deal of promise along with all those subscriptions and all those products which are sold. Rarely though, do they deliver much in the way of tangible results. You see, these top 5 lists neglect some very important componants of exercise success; that the most critical and important elements of any shaping, toning, or strengthening exercises, are all the peripheral disciplines which need be applied in order to make those top 5 exercises effective. That is, the deeper consideration of the movement, the supreme effort required to make those movements work, and the food that be included to support the effort.
Yes, there are some exercises that are more effective than others for toning this, or for shaping that. However, no one exercise is the exclusive remedy for toning bat-wing arms, making the pecs look tighter, or the ass harder. Even the most effective exercises have limited utility unless practiced regularly, performed properly, done with some degree of intensity – all supported with above average eating.
So rather than bore you with a list of Roy’s top exercises, guaranteed to provide results (push-ups, pull-ups, free-squats, low-back extensions, and walking) here is my list of the 4 most effective disciplines that, applied to any exercise, can create the kind of change you are looking for in how your body looks and functions:
Saying “no” is the most effective way I know to make progress in exercise. Since it is good eating, above all else, that promotes results from exercise, simply saying “no” to excess fats and sugars, too much alcohol, extra helpings, and extra calories in general, will go a long way in supporting whichever top 5 exercises you key in on. Saying “no” to excuses helps too.
Taking That First Step
There’s a discipline for you, taking action. Take steps in a left-right-left-right kind of way, and actually do something rather than just placating your inner desire and dreaming about action. Taking the first step is a discipline destined to help you help yourself. The ability to initiate the first step of the walk, the first weight lifted, the first stretch had, the very act of just getting out of bed or off the sofa and making exercise happen is a great discipline indeed – and without it, dreams of improvement will remain as such.
Reflect On The Negative
Take time daily to reflect on what you don’t want to look like and how you don’t want to feel. This discipline can add serious enthusiasm to your exercise habits. Too often we look only at our lofty goals with glazed eyes and a numb head. Sometimes it’s much more motivating to work yourself away from a lesser moment, than to work towards a greater goal. Being aware of, and working away from, who you don’t want to be is where the true fire of fitness can come from – where mine comes from anyway.
Nothing reinforces both the good and the bad of a given day better than journaling. Writing down, and regularly reviewing your eating habits and your exercise patterns, can be a great way – perhaps the best way to stay connected to the discipline of change. Change can be elusive when progress is not monitored. Journal your way to success by documenting your fitness day – daily.
As it relates to these ever present lists of top 5 exercises published in magazines and on the web each month, I suggest that which top 5 exercises matters a lot less than which disciplines be applied to them in the periphery. Wrap your arms around exercise, yes, but wrap your mind around it too. These top 4 disciplines, among many others, will set you up for more change in how your body functions, feels, and appears, than any 5 exercises I could list; push-ups, pull-ups, squats, low-back extensions, and walking. Discipline is the Swiss Army Knife of change; it is a very portable asset, and can be used as a tool to accomplish anything. Be well. rc