Around my junior year of high school, I started to take working out serious. Beyond the required basketball team lifts and conditioning, I did abs and P90X in the basement of my parents’ house.
The reason I mention the abs and P90X workouts is because it was the first time I choose to legitimately exercise as a personal decision, without the pressure of coaches, trainers, or a team. It took an initial small leap of faith to get past that mental barrier, but then it felt awesome as I developed this positive habit of choosing to exercise.
This little experiment of choosing to workout nearly six years ago led to where I am now, in the best physical shape of my life. While some of my friends’ bodies got sloppier in college, my body only improved over time. These days I’m working out around five times a week, because I’m in a rhythm and I also have a workout partner (thanks Bobby).
Working out felt great back then, and the feeling of completing a lift feels just as sweet today.
Also, if you haven’t tried it already, I definitely recommend you look into P90X.
Want To Feel Happy?
If what I say next is the only thing you remember, then that’s good enough. Here it is…
Do you want to feel happier today? Start working out.
Do you want to feel better tomorrow? Go work out tomorrow, and so on.
Are you stressed? Are you lethargic? Is something mentally off? One last time: Go exercise.
There are other reasons to consistently work out—like practicing discipline, improving your confidence, looking more attractive, and staying healthy for your loved ones—but I believe that being happier probably tops most people’s list.
When you work out, chemicals and hormones get released in the brain that instantly make you happier. I’m talking right away, and the endorphins last for an extended time. It’s like taking feel-good drugs, but these drugs are legal and positive for you.
So, I encourage you to start working out, or if you already do then work out more. If you don’t feel good after doing it, and think your life was better with less exercise, then feel free to stop and go back to your old ways. But, I bet if you start working out regularly, you will enjoy it so much that you won’t go back.
If you’re saying, “This is what I want. But, how do I start working out?” Then keep reading below.
How To Start Working Out
I’m convinced that working out requires more mental decisions than physical ones. Where the mind goes, the body follows.
So, it’s best to first analyze where you’re at on the exercise scale. Reflect on how many times you workout a week, a month, or a year—if it’s been that long. Once you have a mental framework, then the goal is to use positive momentum to slowly improve the amount you exercise.
For example, say you work out once a week. Next week, make the goal to exercise two times in those seven days. When you accomplish your goal of exercising twice in a week, the positive momentum and confidence will carry over. Then, you can set the pace at working out three times a week. Continue this trend as much as you want, but with caution.
It’s dangerous to set extremely high expectations in the beginning, such as exercising six days a week. Because then when you skip a gym day, you’ll get discouraged and possibly fall back to your old habit of not going at all. Then you face the hardest part of exercising, again.
And the hardest part of exercising is simply starting. So, get some small wins under your belt to gain a rhythm. Then it will become second nature to exercise. Plus, I bet the more you workout, the better you will feel and more you will want to continue this healthy activity.
Quick Tips To Start Working Out
1. Find a partner: A good accountability partner will significantly increase your gym visits and performance, I guarantee it. On the days when you don’t want to go, the pressure to not let your partner down will make you exercise. Or you will work out harder knowing your partner is watching and you don’t want them to see you quit on the last reps. And you’re more likely to try different exercises without the fear of looking dumb when you have a partner who will also do it.
2. Body comparison is the enemy: When you compare your body to others, there is always going to be someone “better” than you. Maybe this person is bigger, smaller, more muscular, cut, taller, or whatever else it is.
However, the problem with comparison is it causes you to feel bad about yourself and lose motivation, especially when you start working out.
Guys, don’t be intimidated by the body builder doing 100-pound curls. This guy probably has at least a decade of lifting experience over you, so you’re not going to be at his level (and odds are you don’t want to be).
Girls, don’t compare yourself to the crazy athletic girl lapping you around the track. She also probably has years of experience over you.
The point is to get a little better over time. So instead of comparing yourself to others, work out consistently for a month and then use comparison against yourself to see your improvement.
3. Allow yourself room to fail: The phrase “two steps forward, one step back” is usually a reality when it comes to exercising. However, after the one step back, you’re still making progress and better off than before you started.
To stay committed, set your goal for progress and not perfection. Plus, there’s always tomorrow to pick yourself up after a day of weak willpower. We all have those days.
4. Change your perspective of working out: Many people get tangled in the idea that exercising means going to the gym and spending at least 60 minutes there. While that’s one way to do the trick, there are plenty of other options.
If you’re feeling sluggish and have to study in 30 minutes, run around campus for 20 minutes to wake up. Or go play 5-on-5 basketball if you don’t want to do cardio on the treadmill. Be flexible in what you consider exercise to increase your chances of being active.
5. Remember your “why” to exercise: One mental reminder of why you set out to exercise more in the first place can push you over the top to start working out that day. When you remember your “why” for working out (again your “why” could be anything from feeling happier, looking sexier, being healthier, or decreasing stress, etc.), you will become motivated.
6. Eat healthy when you’re out of the gym: If you don’t know already, working out and eating healthy go together. If you do one well, then you will be encouraged to also do well in the other. For example, eating the nutritious foods listed in this guide Easy Healthy Meals For College Students will give you the energy and encouragement you need to hit the gym each day.
Soon you will be unstoppable when you eat healthy and work out regularly. There will be no chance you get fat in college.
Readers, how often do you exercise a week? Do you want to start working out to feel happy, but you struggle to follow through? Why do you think that is?
30 Day Plank Challenge: Plank For 5 Minutes On Last Day
Imagine how pumped up you’re going to be after you complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge? You’ll feel like a rockstar, with abs to prove your hard work.
What I appreciate about the plank is that it’s totally a matter of willpower when it comes to who is willing to get on the ground and do it and who is not.
You don’t need to be tall, fast, strong, or have any physical quality to do this activity. It just comes down to are you a hard worker or not?
This choice alone separates successful people from others in this physical arena and all areas of life, honestly—which I love.
It’s also always wise to test yourself every once in awhile. Since the last personal challenge on Take Your Success happened eight months ago (the gratitude challenge), there’s no more time for slacking.
So for this edition we’re going to be tackling the plank exercise for an entire month straight.
Before we get into the specifics of this challenge, you first need to know the many benefits of planking.
Health Benefits Of The Plank Exercise
I doubt you’re informed about all of the various ways your body thrives when you plank on a consistent basis.
Let’s change that and boost your motivation by learning the pros of staying in the plank position.
Strengthen your core – Planks are arguably the safest and best exercise to strengthen your body’s core since it activates all muscles in this area. Do this exercise enough and you’ll build strong inner core muscles that will pay off for daily function and a sexy appearance.
Flatten your abs – Not everyone wants a glorious six pack, but we could all use a more tightened stomach and abs for when we take our shirt off. Of course diet is more than half the battle for a smooth stomach, but don’t discredit the power of planking to flatten your abs and bring you more confidence about your physical appearance.
Better your posture – By planking, you improve the alignment of your spine, joints, and bones. This helps your body move more efficiently and healthy during every day activities. And better posture improves the first impression you give to others, your body’s energy, and, heck, sitting straighter at a work meeting could be the signal of confidence that persuades your boss to give you a raise.
Reduce back pain – We just covered how better posture improves how you present yourselves to others and feel every day. Though a straightened spine also means less back pain. This study finds that almost 80% of Americans will have back pain sooner or later. That’s a warning sign that we all should plank more often to reduce this nagging affliction.
Become more athletic – With a more stabilized core, your body’s coordination increases allowing your athleticism to improve. You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate some extra athleticism whether it’s needed at the gym, a sports league with your friends, or some random work event that uses your core muscles.
Speed up your metabolism – Want to lose weight and burn more calories? The plank also delivers in this area, and does much better than crunches or regular ab exercises. The best part of this movement is that it forces your body to continue to burn calories long after you’re done with it, so you get to enjoy a sped up metabolic rate the rest of the day—even when you’re sleeping.
Decrease odds of injury – Doing the plank is wonderful from an injury-prevention perspective because it strengthens your body’s core while not putting too much pressure on your hips, spine, and back muscles. Plus a stronger core means your body has a bigger shield, in a sense, to prevent bodily injuries.
Improve your mood – When you exercise your core with a long and hard plank routine, you release stress from the nervous system to improve your overall mood. That’s why planking can ease your mental worries and lighten your depression since it gives your body an outlet for feeling mentally and physically weighed down.
How can you say you don’t love the plank exercise now? Make this exercise a part of your daily routine and all of those benefits come to you.
To help you follow through, follow an official daily schedule for one entire month.
30 Day Plank Challenge Rules
The goal of the regimented schedule below is to both build up the strength of your core and hold you accountable.
Stick with this schedule without missing a day and you’re going to be shocked at what you can physically accomplish in just one month.
Here’s the daily schedule to complete the 30 Day Plank Challenge:
- Day 1: 20 seconds
- Day 2: 20 seconds
- Day 3: 30 seconds
- Day 4: 30 seconds
- Day 5: 40 seconds
- Day 6: Rest
- Day 7: 45 seconds
- Day 8: 45 seconds
- Day 9: 1 minute
- Day 10: 1 minute
- Day 11: 1 minute
- Day 12: 1 ½ minutes
- Day 13: Rest
- Day 14: 1 ½ minutes
- Day 15: 1 ½ minutes
- Day 16: 2 minutes
- Day 17: 2 minutes
- Day 18: 2 ½ minutes
- Day 19: Rest
- Day 20: 2 ½ minutes
- Day 21: 2 ½ minutes
- Day 22: 3 minutes
- Day 23: 3 minutes
- Day 24: 3 ½ minutes
- Day 25: 3 ½ minutes
- Day 26: Rest
- Day 27: 4 minutes
- Day 28: 4 minutes
- Day 29: 4 ½ minutes
- Day 30: 5 minutes
Don’t be frightened by the thought of planking for 5 minutes on day 30. By that point you’ll have significantly strengthened your core and trained your mind to stick in there when things get tough.
The hardest part will be to actually get started and then maintain proper form while planking. The latter is what I’m going to cover next.
What’s Proper Planking Form?
You’ll defeat the purpose of this challenge and lose out on the physical benefits of planking if your form is terrible.
Keep it right and tight to maximize the core gains that are sure to come after you do the following routine, step-by-step for the next month.
This is proper plank form:
- Get into push-up position.
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms.
- Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line.
- Look at the floor and relax your head.
- Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form.
- Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate.
See what I mean that anyone can do it?
It’s a simple exercise when you consider the fact you need no gym equipment, no weights, no workout partner, and no specific environment to start planking and strengthening your core.
Exercises like this don’t discriminate from the poor who can’t afford fancy gyms, so no one has an excuse for why they can’t plank to get better.
Take It 1 Day At A Time
Like any great individual journey, you’ll perform best if you stay laser focused to take this challenge one day at a time.
It does you no good to worry about how you’re going to plank as long as you need to reach next week’s time when today is the only mission that matters. Stick to today, worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.
If it helps, know that I’m going to be busting my tail to complete this 30 Day Plank Challenge as well.
We’re in this together. You got this, I got this, and we got this!
How To Plank: Why This Is My Favorite Exercise!
Whether your motive is looking better with your shirt off, feeling more in shape, or strengthening your body, you’ll want to know how to plank.
It might change, but right now this is my favorite exercise on the planet.
Watch this short video to get a quick explanation of the plank and how to do it to perfection:
In case you didn’t watch the clip or catch the steps to do a perfect plank, here they are:
- Get into push-up position
- Bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your body weight on your forearms
- Keep your upper body and lower body on a flat straight line
- Look at the floor and relax your head
- Hold this stance for as long as you can while maintaining proper form
- Don’t stop breathing, inhale and exhale at a slow normal rate
That’s all it takes to build your core and get stronger muscles. Isn’t the plank simple?
Plus you can plank daily to challenge your abs, where it’s not smart to do chest, biceps, or leg exercises daily. This is another W for the plank!
How often do you plank?
What’s your experience with it?
For how long can you plank without putting your butt in the air and arching your back?
Challenge yourself to start doing this weekly (it doesn’t have to be daily). Note how long you last, with good form, the first time you plank. Then take baby steps to feel the burn and go longer next time. And repeat this process.
Imagine how much progress you can make in 6, 12, and 18 months?
It’s for this reason that you better believe I’m planking tonight. Join me!
111 Reasons To Exercise
Not in a regular workout routine? Maybe the problem is you don’t realize the importance of physical activity. I’ll fix that with these 111 reasons to exercise.
You may not like reading this list because then you don’t have the excuse of ignorance. Sorry to bury your excuses.
After reading this it’ll just be pure laziness if you’re not exercising and pushing your body to get in shape. That’s 100% on you.
But I got faith in you. You can build this habit—slowly but surely—and become a more fit version of yourself.
Take it day by day. That’s the key. Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in a week, then get frustrated you’re not seeing immediate progress. All good things take time.
Alright, let’s dive into every single reason to work out!
The Benefits Of Exercise
- Betters your quality of life
- Gives you more energy throughout the day
- Helps you fall asleep quicker at night
- Works to prevent the common cold
- Boosts productivity all day
- Improves your blood flow
- Provides endorphins to feel good
- Fights against depression
- Improves your social confidence
- Extends the amount of years you live
- Stimulates mental focus and concentration
- Lowers your body fat and weight
- Strengthens your immune system
- Presents opportunities to make new friends
- Increases testosterone
- Lessens risk of joint pain
- Tones and strengthens your skin
- Enhances your endurance
- Protects you against heart disease
- Lowers risk of some cancers
- Convinces you you’re stronger than you think
- Fights against dementia
- Motivates you to eat healthier
- Burns extra calories
- Provides a creative outlet
- Helps you feel sexier
- Drives more romance in your relationship
- Lowers cholesterol in a natural way
- Makes your dog healthier and happier with more walks
- Decreases your resting heart rate
- Instills discipline and self-control
- Teaches your kids to exercise
- Increases your work performance
- Adds a challenge to your day
- Strengthens your bones
- Develops your athletic ability
- Pushes you to take more risks
- Digests your food better
- Lowers risk of diabetes
- Lowers triglycerides
- Aids your immune system fighting infections
- Improves emotional stability
- Gives you a positive goal to attach your energy to
- Alleviates constipation
- Stimulates pain-releasing hormones
- Improves oxygen movement to the body
- Lowers the risk of osteoporosis
- Speeds up your metabolism
- Helps remove lactic acid in the body
- Develops a mindset of self improvement
- Straightens up your posture
- Provides a healthy habit to exercise more
- Develops flexibility and range of motion
- Makes it easier to fit into different types of clothes
- Gives you a social setting to meet like-minded people
- Helps you think positive
- Saves you doctor bills down the road
- Increases creativity
- Allows you to eat unhealthy without getting fat
- Makes you drink more water
- Protects your eyes and eyesight
- Creates a mentality of respecting your body
- Builds muscle tone
- Provides opportunities to test your willpower
- Fights against allergies
- Makes you look younger than you are
- Prepares you for change
- Increases fertility for making babies
- Improves body control
- Allows your brain to think more clearly
- Helps your body store glycogen
- Boosts your body’s production of good fat
- Gets you comfortable handling pressure
- Decreases appetite for sugary drinks and unhealthy food
- Adds muscle strength
- Makes you feel hungrier after a good workout
- Takes away guilt when you do relax
- Increases the odds you make more money
- Reduces blood pressure
- Teaches you a lesson in patience to see body progress
- Alleviates back pain
- Readies you for any reunion, wedding, or social gathering
- Improves breathing ability
- Gives you a chance at a six pack
- Instills belief that you can achieve your goals and follow through
- Eases menstrual cramps
- Gets you ready to run a marathon
- Improves your business network and connections
- Provides an excuse to wear and buy new exercise clothes
- Improves reaction time
- Presents opportunities to find new business ideas
- Makes for a free social activity
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Fights against feelings of boredom
- Protects against age-related muscle loss
- Gives you a pretty mirror view
- Raises your sexual performance
- Allows you to eat more food
- Makes you a more interesting person
- Prepares you to always look good in swimsuits
- Builds muscle size
- Adds a glow to your skin complexion
- Teaches you the value of hard work
- Gives you a reason to manage your time better
- Protects your body against injury
- Decreases the difficulty of lifting heavy objects
- Encourages the people around you to exercise
- Adds to your first impression
- Lowers the scary thought of stepping on a scale
- Increases compliments you receive from other people
- Gives your body what it loves, a good workout
If those 111 arguments didn’t convince you to take your health serious and begin a consistent exercise plan, I give up. You may be hopeless.
Just kidding. I know that’s not true. Even the most overweight, out-of-shape person can make a turn for the better to prioritize exercise.
And I know after reading this some of you will think, “Exercise is awesome. I’m going to get shredded for the beach this summer.” But then you’ll continue to not work out like nothing changed.
There’s only one road to getting in better shape, and it requires a bunch of sweat.
So snap out of it. Start exercising like you know you should. Get committed.
You owe it to your mind and body at the very least. Otherwise you’ll steal those 111 reasons from yourself.
And as I wrote in this article, the best time to start is now.