Present bias and how it’s messing with you…
We are pretty terrible at looking at the long term effects of our choices, and instead tend to focus on what serves us in the moment. We skip a workout to lounge on the sofa, even though we know that getting the workout done will leave us feeling better and will serve us far better in the future. It’s just that the sofa is just so comfy and that feels good right now.
We sacrifice sleep in order to watch another episode of a TV show, because that is entertaining us in the moment, feeding our dopamine hungry brains, at the cost of feeling crappy tomorrow and shooting ourselves in the foot with our longterm goals. Because, let’s face it, it’s not just one night that happens.
It’s ordering a takeaway because it’s easy and tasty instead of taking the same amount of time to cook something equally delicious and more in line with your goals.
The issue is it’s hard to override our short term reward centres and look forward to the delayed gratification that comes from achieving our longterm goals. The same is true whether it’s a fat loss goal, a fitness goal or something like a savings goal. It’s more enjoyable to buy that new pair of Air Jordans than put the money away into your savings account.
So how do we work around this sticky little bugger of a bias?
Here are 3 tips to help:
- Gamify the process. Turning the process of achieving your goal into a type of game is a common, and very successful, way of increasing adherence and helping you stay on track. One example that is used with my online clients is the virtual high 5 they get when any time they get a pr, any pr, no matter how small. It acts as a cool, fun way to keep you engaged in the process and to keep pushing for any little win that you can get in pursuit of your goal. You can implement this yourself by looking for short term wins that can stack up over the period you are working towards your goal. This could be a checklist, an app or some other way to check off progress to keep you moving forwards.
- Small rewards are a big deal. We like little rewards now and again, that’s why we go for the short term win even if it’s against our best interests, so use that to your advantage. Now I’m not a fan of rewarding behaviour with food, for example, giving yourself a cookie after you complete a workout, but you could promise yourself an hour of downtime with a new book once you’ve completed your weeks’ workouts. Or a new training top if you complete 90% of your months sesssions, or plan in a Friday afternoon cinnamon bun having got your weeks’ nutrition goals ticked off. However, you do it, these little rewards scratch that dopamine itch and help motivate you along the way.
- This is probably the most important of the 3. This is what makes sure I very rarely miss a training session and push through even when I don’t want to: have a very clear understanding of why you are doing what you do. For me it’s twofold, firstly I want to be able to keep up with my daughter as she grows up and set a good example for her. And secondly, I’ve seen first hand what lack of activity and muscle loss does to your quality of life and ability to do anything at all apart from sit in a chair all day, and I’ll be damned if that’s going to happen to me. So I have 2 very strong reasons to keep pushing and not miss sessions. Your job is to find your own reasons to keep working towards your goals despite any distractions that might try to pull you off course. Then you need to hold them firmly and use them as part of your decision making processes going forwards. These reasons will likely change and move a little as you progress, but knowing what they are is essential.
Why I use full body workouts for 99% of clients
There are a load of ways you could set up workouts in your week, but I strongly believe that full body workouts are the best option for most people. Here are a few reasons why:
- training is about applying stress to your body and allowing for recovery and adaptation, spreading this stress across the week for each movement or body part allows better recovery and stronger adaptations
- Most research suggests around 10 sets of work per muscle group is optimum. Which is going to give you better results? Doing all of your volume on one day where there is an inevitable drop off in intensity as you fatigue? Or spreading the volume across the week allowing you maintain a higher training intensity across more sets? Quality always wins.
- And because you are spreading the volume out, there is less chance of muscle pain, reduced risk of injury due to fatigue and increased readiness for your next session. You feel better and make more progress.
- If your sessions are body part split or upper lower split, it’s funny how often a leg session is the one that’s sacrificed when you get busy… If your training hits a little bit of legs every time, there is no chance you’re going to skip leg day.
Adding a little lateral movement to your hinge
Hinge movements (deadlift variations and bridges) should be a staple of your programming, but they are very much limited to one plane of movement. Adding in a little lateral component can help you build strength and resilience out of that single plane.
Enter the lateral RDL
The important thing to remember is to load the movement, and don’t just move the load. The point isn’t to shift the weight over your foot, but your shift your hips out to each side and allow the load to follow. Keep your hips and shoulders facing forward and resist the twist.
Make sure to get up tall at the top of each rep. No half repping.
Get your hips back and wide to load up your hip on each rep.
Give them a try.