It's been said that fitness is a journey, not a destination. This statement could not be truer, simply because one's fitness "state" is either evolving or devolving with each meal, workout and lifestyle decision.
All too often, exercisers are looking for the quick fix to a problem that has developed over years, if not decades. Whether the concern is weight loss or inflexibility, there is a natural tendency for people to expect immediate results from a fitness program. The good news is — this usually happens.
The first six to eight weeks of a fitness program generally produce impressive results for new exercisers. They experience more energy. They see physical changes, and their exercise performance improves rapidly. This process is akin to a dry sponge picking up a few droplets of water and quickly expanding.
The challenge comes after those first two months of activity. By this time, the newness has worn off, and the rapid changes have dulled. This is a critical period where, statistically, more than 50% of new exercisers abandon their program.
This is the key moment when an exerciser needs two things: information and support.
The "leveling off" that occurs after the initial program period is confusing, frustrating and demotivating. To overcome this, one needs to begin adjusting the program — and also to be encouraged by friends and family.
In many cases, I'll encourage the exerciser to take a week off during this time. It might seem counter-intuitive, but eight weeks of a new behavior change is taxing, mentally and physically. I like to take a week to reset, recharge and refocus for the next stage of growth.
And once that next stage begins, it's time to crank up the intensity. This week's exercise is a great option for those who have completed the first stage or two of their exercise program. The Jumping Chin-Up simply requires a sturdy bar and a little willpower.
1. Find a sturdy bar — or if you're able to enjoy an outdoor workout, a relatively horizontal tree branch — that is a little higher than you can easily reach.
2. Stand beneath it and hop up while grasping the bar with both hands (underhand grip).
3. As soon as you grasp the bar, pull yourself up as high as you can.
4. If you can pull your chin all the way over the bar, great. If not, just pull your body up as far as you can.
5. When you reach your end point, drop down to the ground.
6. As soon as you drop, squat back down and perform another rep.
7. Start with five repetitions and add more as fitness level allows.
The cool part of this exercise is that it's appropriate for all fitness levels. There is also something fun and motivating about lifting the body off the ground. Enjoy!
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.