Over the past year I have purposely made my most difficult (and most important) workout of the week on Fridays.
I had two reasons in mind when I decided to do this:
- It would force me to get the workout in because I would feel guilty if I skipped it. I am hard on myself if I have a workout planned and don’t get it in. That might seem weird, but my clients who have this same type feeling about the importance of workouts, ALWAYS see more progress. Working out is just part of my usual routine, so missing a workout that is planned feels awkward to me. But, on Fridays I am usually ready to head home early to relax with a beer or two. My motivation to workout on Friday has always been less than Monday through Thursday..I think this is pretty common. Would you agree that happy hour sounds better than a 60 minute sweat sesh in the gym? But, I know how much I like and need routines (always have) and by forcing myself to schedule my most important workout of the week for Friday I figured I would skip less workouts on this day.
- Move more, eat more. By making my most calorie burning workout of the week on Friday, this would allow me to more easily fit in those beers or have a cheat meal that night for dinner. Physiologically it makes sense that if I worked harder, my body can handle and needs more food to recover. I always tell my clients to have their cheat meal on their hardest workout day of the week. But, I thought this would also help me mentally be more “OK” with having those beers and cheat meal because I knew that my body could handle the extra calories. I always feel less guilty over eating if I worked out hard that day. Yes…I even play mind games with myself .
The ONE thing you should be doing every single week to lose weight, change your body composition, maintain your current level of fitness (or body composition) and challenge yourself mentally is have one VERY difficult workout.
I call this my “lower body hell day.” A couple months ago I talked about my goal of squatting my body weight (185lbs for 50 straight reps), well that was on my lower body hell day…Friday.
My Friday workouts for going on over a year now have been physically exhausting and mentally challenging. I could very easily skip reps, cut out sets and quit early every single Friday. Some Friday’s I have. I am pushing my body and mind to it’s limits. The key here is MY limit. Your limits will be different than mine and how hard you actually make this workout each week will be determined by a few things:
- Your current fitness level.
- Your goals. The bigger the goal, the harder the workout.
- Your willingness to get out of your comfort zone.
- Your health. You have to be healthy and be able to exercise pain free to do push your body to it’s limits.
- Your confidence. You must have confidence in your ability to get this workout done. If you don’t, you won’t finish it.
But, why just one of these “hell” workouts each week? A few reasons again:
- You don’t want to get hurt right? If you aren’t healthy you can never actually complete these workouts. I always say that 20% of your workouts should be very mentally challenging. If you workout 5 days per week then 1 workout (20%) is your magic number.
- You must be able to recover from this workout. After my lower body hell day, I have an easy upper body workout on Saturday and rest on Sunday. By Monday or Tuesday I am back to normal and ready to go again by the following Friday.
- You can’t have a cheat meal every day.
Do you really need to do this workout each week to see results?
- No. You actually don’t. But, I have seen amazing results in my body composition by adding this type of mentally challenging workout in to my weeks.
- Yes. You actually do need this type of day if you want to see BIG results. Big is a relative term. Are you where you want to be right now? If you answered ‘no’ to this, then it is worth giving this a shot, eh?
- So, it’s really up to you and how big your goals are.
What should you do for this type of workout?
- Something lower body based. The largest muscles in your body are in your legs and those muscles will control your metabolism more than upper body muscles. To lift the most weight possible or do the hardest workout, you must be working your legs. A lot of squats, lunges, deadlifts, sprints on a treadmill or a hill and other forms of HIIT cardio. I stick in the rep ranges of 10-25 or more even.
- Choose a moderate weight so you can do all the reps. If you normally squat with 20lb dumbbells only use 10lbs so you can do more reps.
- Stick with short rest. 45-90 seconds rest between all sets.
- Nothing longer than 60 minutes of total workout time.
You should walk away from the workout with wobbly legs and ready to eat entire pizza.
Here is what I am doing this week:
- 6×15 barbell hip thrusts/90 sec rest
- 7×8 barbell back squat/60 sec rest
- “Finisher”: 4×10 trap bar deadlifts/4×10 dumbbell RDLs/4×10 dumbbell walking lunges/NO REST
I am done in 45 minutes, but completely exhausted. I have experimented with these workouts and have found I can lose up to 2-3lbs by the next day after a workout like this. My metabolism gets jacked through the roof. Now, I know this isn’t long term weight loss, but it allows me to enjoy those beers and pizza without GAINING weight because I am “in the hole” 2 lbs. At the beginning of this article I said that you should be doing a workout like this once per week if you want to MAINTAIN. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight right now, this type of workout will do wonders for your ability to MAINTAIN what you currently have. This is why this Friday “hell” workout is my most important workout right now. I am trying to maintain how I look and feel because I am happy with it. I realize that to maintain what I have I have to continue doing what got me to this point. I can’t get complacent, skip workouts and make things easier if I want to maintain. This type of workout has allowed me to maintain the body composition I feel best at. It also allows me to enjoy life on the weekends without losing progress; which is probably more important. I make a 45 minute commitment to the gym Friday afternoon and can relax the rest of the weekend.
You must be mentally prepared for this. You will get sore, but the food you can eat without seeing negative side affects (weight gain for instance) will be worth it. And I am under the opinion that we all need to mentally challenge ourselves more in the gym.
Want to give it a shot?
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