The classic beginner’s workout mistake – Obsession with Numbers

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography.

Fresh into the new year, one of my old school time friends called up to wish me a happy new year and during the course of the conversation, he tossed a question at me – “Can anyone ever do a 100 pushups at one go?”. A very innocent looking question, but then one, which ‘every single person’ asks at the start of his/her journey on the path of physical fitness.

I like to call it the classic beginner’s mistake of obsessing over numbers. When I say every single person, that would include myself too. In
my days as a beginner all I used to think about was numbers. “How many sets I would do?”, “how many reps per set?”, and so on and so forth.
And on top of that, every gym definitely has one or two such jerks, who will, unnecessarily psych you up with crazy thoughts that “if you don’t do a 100 push ups, you’ve wasted your time” OR “if you don’ do 500 crunches everyday, you will never have a six pack”. Although these guys mean no harm, yet I like to call them jerks because they end up scaring the crap out of a new enthusiast who is perhaps only past his first couple of days in the gym, checking out the equipments and secretly ogling the girls.
There is a very thin line separating useful fitness advice from misguiding some one. Obsessing over running 5 kms a day and if it is not done, feeling worthless about oneself, is a good candidate in the list of misguided thinking.
I have been working out since 1992 and at various stages of my life, depending on my specific needs, I have tweaked my workout program to suit my current lifestyle. Here’s what I have to say about numbers. Numbers are just that…..numbers. They serve only a small purpose, that of helping you keep track of what you are doing. Beyond that they mean nothing. So it is pointless, to ponder over them too much.
When I workout, it is a good thing to be able to do a 100 crunches everyday. But then there are days where I hardly pull in 20 and there are other days when I do none at all. That doesn’t kill me 🙂 But there are days when I do pull in a full 100 and those days I feel ‘extra-good’ about myself. Remember, you are the only person you need to compete with.
If you end up comparing yourself with the recent fitness exploits of Aamir Khan, John Abraham or Shah Rukh Khan, then you are heading straight for disaster! Because apart from the number crunching, one needs to understand and appreciate the fact that their bodies and appearances are an important factor of their earnings. It may not be the case with you. You may be an exceptionally good but ‘fat’ accountant. What then is more important for your livelyhood? Your accounting skills or your six-pack abs. I guess you get the idea.
The point is to keep your priorities straight. Physical fitness is definitely important but not to the extent that it brings about a feeling of worthlessness in you, just because you cannot run 5 kms or do a 100 push ups or 500 crunches, right from the word GO! Forget the number. The secret lies in just doing what you can and eventually improving your performance with each workout that you do.
If you are really dedicated and consistent, then you will certainly achieve the levels that you always desire.
And on that day, you will no longer be a beginner.
Cheers & Good Luck!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Metamorphosis says:

    I agree numbers don’t count. But form does count. Even if you do 5 pushups or 20 crunches, do every pushup and crunch correctly. It is better than doing 500 crunches in quick succession and getting a crick in your neck!!

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