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Paisley Sowell does the One Arm Press With Leg Lift (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/CELIA STOREY

Competition can be a fantastic motivational tool for elevating the intensity of a workout. For some, it's an integral element that must be part of every exercise program. Others do not respond as favorably, although almost all clients challenge themselves in their own way.

I love to cook. Something about the entire process relaxes me, and I get a sense of satisfaction from creating a meal for my family. As I've gained more cooking experience and knowledge, my personal preference for garlic, onion, peppers and other powerful ingredients has evolved. I'm using one or all of these in almost every meal.

I view competition similarly — as a strong ingredient. I don't need to have it in every workout, but I sure do enjoy it when it's there.

Competition, even with oneself, tends to help us overcome difficult sections of the workout and adds another "why" for the exerciser. Sure, we all have other reasons to engage in exercise — weight loss, health improvement or higher energy levels. But there are times that we need that extra kick to get to the next mile or perform those final three repetitions.

There are plenty of ways to make a workout more competitive. The most direct is to find a partner to exercise with. Working out with a partner not only adds a layer of accountability, it automatically infuses some competitive spirit into the program. Whether you're competing in an activity or simply comparing results over time, it's possible to leverage your partnership as healthy competition and extra motivation.

Fitness trackers have made workouts so quantifiable, it's easy to compete with yourself. Some people use a step count to measure their daily physical activity, and then set goals to achieve higher and higher daily step counts over time. Others use a more complex algorithm that includes caloric expenditure, average heart rate or total work performed. In either case, a fitness tracking device can provide the data necessary to set goals for the workout itself — as well as long-term goals.

This week's exercise fits well within a partner workout or alone. The One Arm Press With Leg Lift will challenge the core muscles along with the upper body.

1. Select a light or medium dumbbell and lie face up on an exercise mat. Hold the dumbbell in your left hand and position it near your left shoulder.

2. Fully extend your right arm away from your right shoulder for balance.

3. Extend both legs and lift them off the floor a few inches. This is your starting position.

4. Perform a one arm dumbbell press with the left arm only, while everything else remains still.

5. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions, then switch sides and repeat.

6. Do two or three sets per side.

I'll say this, competition isn't for everybody. As with garlic, if you like it, it's an enhancement that can make a workout more enjoyable or effective. My advice is to start with a little and see if it's to your taste. Who knows, you may be crushing workouts and eating garlic chicken before spring.

Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Style on 12/31/2018

Print Headline: Competition, even with oneself, bolsters workout


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