“How many push-ups can you do?” It was a simple question. But it happened to come from a fitness legend, Jack LaLanne. Three young admirers had asked him for advice on getting better/faster results and that was his reply.
“I can do 25,’” said one of them.
I can do 20,” offered another.
The third boy, youngest of the three looked a bit down. “I can only do 17,” he finally said.
Jack smiled and looked at the third boy. “You will pass both of your buddies up soon enough,” he said. “You’re the one who’s actually working the hardest. You two, have no idea how many you can do. You stopped at 25. You stopped at 20. If you had really tried those wouldn’t be round, even numbers. You would have done 23, or 27 or 26 1/2. You stopped at a number that you decided was OK. If you don’t put out the best possible effort, you won’t get the best possible results. You asked me for the best advice I could give you and that’s it. It’s all about the effort!”
If there was anything about Jack Lalanne’s fitness success that stood out, his incredible work ethic and ability to always put out the effort would be it. In our own fitness pursuits, we have the opportunity each day to put out the type of effort that will lead to success. It’s not always easy and almost never glamourous. If you decide not to give that effort, probably no one but you will notice. But if you do give it, everyone will be able to tell. Maybe not right then, but over the course of time through the accumulation of results.
It can definitely be a mental challenge to create the physical action you are capable of. You’ll have to stay very in-tune with yourself in terms of your actions, goals, and capabilities to not allow yourself the luxury of being complacent. But if you truly push yourself as best as you can at a given moment, you will open doors that you originally may not have even seen.
The other day, for whatever reason, my last set on leg presses felt difficult. When I got to rep 7, I momentarily decided it was too hard to keep going. Then I told myself to stop being a little bitch, put out the effort and do what I was capable of doing. I did 3 more reps and then racked it. The skies didn’t open up and start raining down gold. No one cheered or probably even noticed my final reps. But I noticed. I noticed that I could do more and that I was about to make a deal with myself to do less. That was not a deal that would help me. Sure there are time when you only do a set number as part of the plan. And maybe next time, 7 or even 6 is all I’ll be able to do. But on this day I could do 10. On this day I made sure to put out the effort needed to get those final reps. On this day I trained in a way that earned me any results I get. I trained in a way that would have made a legend smile!