Ep. 77: The road to your goals is paved with mediocre workouts

I’ve got a quick hit episode for you today to talk about one of the most common pieces of advice I give my clients. We all have days where we just don’t feel like hitting the gym, or where we push a workout back because we think we can do better tomorrow. And while self-awareness and self-care are important parts of your fitness journey, so is putting in the work even when it isn’t your best work. That’s why I use the phrase “the road to your goals is paved with mediocre workouts.” In this episode we’ll dive into why giving the best you have to give that day is better than waiting for everything to line up perfectly and give the best you ever have.

If you’re loving my podcast content, but are looking for something more to support your wellness journey, here are my programs currently available:

Strong As A Mother: Postpartum (https://www.kellybryantwellness.com/strong-as-a-mother/)
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Strong As A Mother: Prenatal (https://www.kellybryantwellness.com/strong-as-a-mother-prenatal/)

As always, you can find me on Instagram @kellybryantwellness


Welcome back to the, not your mama podcast. This is your host Kelly Bryant. And this week I wanted to jump into a fairly quick episode with you talking about something that I say to my clients all the time. And that is the phrase, the road to your goals is paved with mediocre workouts. So this is something that I say to clients when they complete a workout or they’re thinking about completing a workout and they’re like, oh, I just was not feeling it today.

This was not my best effort. This didn’t feel great, blah, blah, blah. Or of course, if they’re going to do a workout, they’re thinking like, I kind of don’t feel like, super energetic. Like maybe I should put this off til tomorrow so that I can like really go hit it hard. And my answer to that is always.

Showing up, doing something is always better than doing nothing. And of course, That is my version of saying that is the road to your goals is paved with mediocre workouts. I’m pretty sure I coined that phrase, but I can’t swear it. And what I mean by that is there’s basically two components of what’s going on here. There’s actually physical benefit. So the, the physiological exercise science basis for why it is better to do a mediocre workout than put it off.

And there is a psychological explanation for this. So I’m going to start by talking a little bit about the physiological benefit, something that you see over and over again, when you look at the research, is that volume over time and consistency of input is much more predictive of overall change toward a strength goal, toward a hypertrophy goal, honestly, it doesn’t really matter, than total weight lifted a given workout or total reps in a given workout. Matters much more what’s happening over the course of a week. And over the course of a month, then what’s happening in an individual workout. So any workout where you show up and you do something, you get some volume in the bank, in the workout bank, is better than putting off that workout or potentially missing that workout in order to do it, you know, better or at a higher intensity on another day. There’s also the fact that a lot of exercise, a lot of getting better at lifting weight is neurological. So even if you lift lighter, even if you don’t complete all the reps, even if it doesn’t feel super awesome, you’re giving your body neurological input. So you are building pathways where, you know, doing that row at I’m recovering from an elbow injury, right.

I’m doing everything real light. It’s not super impressive doing that row at 15 pounds is still going to help you get stronger at lifting 25 30 pounds in the future. So even if you’re showing up today and you’re doing less than your best effort, You were still building that pathway. You’re getting better at that movement pattern. You’re giving neurological input to the muscle.

So it is actually not just, you know, like a nice little phrase, like a little motivational phrase, but genuinely physiologically, you are improving your results by consistently showing up more frequently to do mediocre work, then less frequently showing up to do really high intensity work. Now that’s variable, right? There are some athletes who are able to lift with such intensity at such volume in a given workout, that they actually don’t need to work out as frequently. That’s not most of us, that’s not you and I. I aim to be lifting four days a week because I know that I can do four days a week for 30 minutes at a mediocre effort and get more total benefit than if I was to try to lift twice a week for an hour.

I mean one, I have kids. And so it’s much more likely that I’m going to miss one of those one hour workouts. It’s also much more likely that I’m going to have really crappy sleep and I’m not going to be able to perform my best for a one hour workout. But if I take that, you know, two, one hour workouts and I spread them out into four 30 minute workouts. I’ve improving the odds that I’m going to have a good workout on any given day.

And I’m likely getting more total volume in than I would if I attempted to do the same amount on just two days. So that’s your sort of like nuts and bolts science reason for it. But I think the psychological reason is even more compelling. And especially when I’m working with new clients, this is something that I really want to drive home for them.

When you are starting a new workout program, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve worked out in the past, if you’re coming back from having a baby or coming back from time away, an injury, anything like that. What matters most is not how hard you’re working. It’s not what lifts you’re doing. It’s not any of that. It is getting the reps of showing up.

It’s just the identity shift that happens when you continue to show up and stick to a program you’re creating self-efficacy, you’re creating the belief in yourself that you can and will do this program. And so it doesn’t matter if you hit start on a workout and you do 10 minutes and then you’re like, oh my God, I feel like crap or, the baby woke up or X, Y, and Z is happening. It is still better than having not hit start on that workout. Continuing to show up and check the box and get reps of that self-efficacy of that belief that you can, and you will do it is more impactful than doing fewer high quality workouts, fewer higher quality workouts. So.

The psychological gains, plus the physiological benefits of actually working out consistently, even if they’re lower quality workouts, even if they’re shorter, even if they’re lower weights, even if there are fewer reps. You’re still going to get more benefit. And I think that that phrase, the road to your goals is paved with mediocre workouts, is so effective or is so meaningful.

Because it reinforces the idea that you don’t have to do everything perfectly. To get the outcome you want, right. This isn’t just, Hey, it’s better to do more mediocre workouts than to do fewer really good ones. It’s also that you’re going to get to your goal, even doing the mediocre workouts. In fact, that’s the best way to get to your goal is to show up consistently at whatever effort you have to offer.

The last thought I want to leave you with is often when I talk to clients. They have this idea of what their best is. And so their best is under perfect circumstances. If nobody woke up last night, if they got a perfect night’s sleep, if they’re feeling really good, they’re not coming down with, You know, a cold or getting over a cold, which like these are all the things that really happen. If you are a parent.

This is, you know, that’s their best. This is the level of effort that they should be giving. So they, you know, do a mediocre workout. And they say that wasn’t my best effort. And I’m like, no, that wasn’t your best outcome. But it was your best effort, given the circumstances of today, of what you’re actually bringing to the table.

That was your best effort? I, I mean, I assume so when I say like, you know, give it your best effort, what I mean is from the ingredients that you’ve got today, make the most of it. That doesn’t mean that you had to love it. That doesn’t mean that you had to feel like you were, bubbling over with energy. It doesn’t mean that you have to be hitting the weights or the reps that you have the last time you did not work out. It’s just given where you’re at today. Did you do your best? Did you do the most that you could? Did you try?

Cool. I’m good with that. That’s all I ever asked from my clients your best for today. And that will get you where you are trying to go so much faster and so much more. Uh, in, in so much more of a positive, emotional state than feeling like you always have to do it perfectly. Get the reps have more experience of walking into the gym, completing a workout, checking the box and overall increase the amount of work that you’re able to do in a particular week, in a particular month compared to if you only waited for the conditions to be perfect.

Welcome to parenthood. The conditions are never perfect. You just take the ingredients you’ve got and make the best cake you can. Thank you so much for tuning into today’s quick episode. I hope that this was the kick in the you need. I hope you listened to it while doing a workout or on your way to do a workout. Go slay.

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