Phase 3: Concluding an Exercise

When do you decide to stop a weight lifting exercise? Is it when you can say, “I don’t think I can do any/many more”?

That’s what many people seem to do. And it isn’t very satisfying.

I’ve found a way to conclude that gives me a much more satisfying sense of completion–and at the same time it helps me get more out of the exercise.

I think of this as a “full finish,” or “100% finish.”

Here’s how it goes…

Last week I wrote how to do a mental RPE (rated perceived exertion, 0-10 scale) assessment occasionally as you experience the “stair stepped progression” you can intend to create during an exercise.

For finding a satisfying conclusion of an exercise, I simply strive to hit what I’m absolutely convinced is a “10” on my RPE assessment.

Now, there are a couple of conditions to this:

First condition:
When I’m truly at a “10” in effort, the weight must be moving at a pace that would take it at least 20-30 seconds to complete the movement. Maybe it even comes to a complete halt after it’s been slowing down at this pace.

Now, I personally tend to never move much faster than 10 seconds lifting a weight–so when speed bogs down for me it goes pretty quickly to this level.

If I were to put my effort at a “10” and the weight shot up and completed in 1 second, or even 12 seconds, I’d consider that I’m not there yet–I haven’t hit my conditions yet. So, I’d keep going.

Second condition:
After I’ve hit what I’m convinced is a “10”, assuming the weight is moving very, very slowly and with complete control, as per above, then…

I strive to sustain at a “10” for at least 5 seconds.

If I’m new to an exercise, and just beginning to get to what feels like a “10”, sustaining for even 1 second feels like a huge accomplishment. But then I get motivated to go next time and go just a little bit longer.

Eventually, as I build up my tolerance and confidence, I can get to serenely pushing with all my might, and with complete control, for at least 5 seconds after the wight has slowed to a crawl or even a stop.

And then I feel a great sense of completion.

But beware, if–and when, as it will!–your mind shifts to the default mode of thinking you need to be moving, you’ll feel frustrated and discouraged. Everything I mentioned last week about changing this perspective applies, so you might want to review that.

If, and when, you do shift into that “performance” mode, just notice it–and know that next time you can try again. Eventually, you won’t even have to wait for the next time–you’ll be able to switch your focus this way right in the moment, during the exercise. But that will take a while.

If you keep at it, you’ll be able to experience a sense of real accomplishment and motivation as you hit the opportunity a full finish, instead of discouragement as you approach it. And it’s all about training your mind to align with the goal you’re actually creating, and that actually benefits you, instead of the inadequate and incomplete goal of just “moving.”

If you’ve never felt this, know that it does take most people quite a while. Any engagement with this goal is the only way to progress, and this is a worthy path of progress to pursue. It took me years to experience this…but I didn’t know it was something I could even shoot for. I just found it, and it made the whole experience of exercising suddenly feel much more “zen” and more fulfilling.

I highly recommend working to experience what you know is a true “full finish” at least once. It might change your whole experience of exercise in an intersting way.

A final note…

After each exercise I like to mentally note how close I was to hitting a “full finish” as I’ve just described it. I don’t expect to always be there. I find that questioning/assessing my efforts right after each exercise reinforces the goal, and when I didn’t hit it, I feel more motivated for next time.

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