Incremental Improvements Add Up to Big Success, by Matthew Romans
Posted October 27, 2020 by Matthew Romans
Many people talk about the idea of thinking big. In fact, one of the best personal development books I've ever read was "The Magic of Thinking Big", by David J. Schwartz. In that book, the author talks about having a creative mindset, keeping a positive attitude, believing in yourself. I subscribe to these concepts one hundred percent; however, I also believe it's important to think small. When I say think small, I mean to focus on the details, to take the time to enjoy the little things, and to get the most out of each day. No matter what endeavor you pursue, if you strive to get incrementally better each time you might be surprised at what you can accomplish. In the field of exercise, contrary to what you may have heard, there is no quick fix. Nothing worthwhile was ever achieved instantly, and lasting results are obtained over the long term, not right away. Overnight success stories are often months or years in the making.
Working to build strength is the most effective way to elicit positive physical change. A major tenet of the Total Results exercise philosophy is to be progressive in terms of resistance, because if you don't challenge your muscles with heavier weights there is no incentive to the body to produce positive change. We estimate conservatively in terms of beginning resistance in order to teach proper form and speed of movement, but once a client has achieved proficiency we want to get them to reach momentary muscular failure. The greatest poundage increases a client will experience will occur in the first several weeks of training; it's not uncommon for us to add ten or fifteen pounds to the Leg Press in order to heighten exercise intensity. Once the client reaches momentary muscular failure consistently on all the exercises in the routine, the increments added to the weight stack will be smaller; 2.5 pounds for some exercises, and 1.25 pounds for others. This may not seem like much, but over time this translates into a significant gain in strength.
Incremental improvements can also take place in terms of fat loss. We generally recommend a rate of loss of one to two pounds per week, in order to ensure that you are losing just fat and are not also losing muscle. Certainly total weight loss is important, but it doesn't tell the entire story, which is why we also take body composition and circumference measurements. If you were to consistently lose one pound per week (as we recommend) for three months, that would end up being a total loss of 12 pounds, which would be a significant change in terms of body composition.
The same incremental mindset can be used with your approach to exercise form. Strive to get a little more proficient each workout, and focus on one thing to improve upon (breathing, turnarounds, pace, etc). Process the cues and information that your instructor gives you, and then execute. Aim to inroad the musculature just a little bit deeper. If you focus just a little more on shutting out the background noise of life during your workout, you will notice an improved level of concentration that translates into a more effective exercise stimulus. Have the attitude of one repetition at a time, one exercise at a time, and one workout at a time.
You can take this same approach with the things that you do outside of your regular Total Results workouts. If your sleep habits need improvement, try going to bed just a few minutes earlier each night until your body clock resets. Turn off your phone or other electronic device just a little bit sooner, so that you don't expose yourself to artificial light as late, and your body can produce the melatonin necessary to facilitate falling asleep. Start incorporating a little more essential fats into your diet and consuming just a little less sugar to help get your metabolism functioning more efficiently.
Thinking small is not a negative thing, but rather, a positive prism through which to view life. Focus on doing the little things right, see the big picture, and be in it for the long haul. Remember, there is no such thing as a quick fix, and Rome was not built in a day. With a plan of action, attention to detail, persistence, and a positive mindset, success can be yours. How badly do you want it?