The action is simple. Each and every day decide to workout and do a single pushup, or sit-up, or squat. You will become addicted to working out.
Why does this work?
According to Charles Dugg, the author of the Power of Habit, habits are formed when you reinforce a "cue-routine-reward" loop. The cue is a signal for you to do something. The routine is the behavior that you are encouraging. And the reward is something positive that is a direct result of that behavior. The more you repeat this cycle the stronger you tie the cue and routine together. Eventually it becomes an automatic thought and you feel strange if you don't do it. Think how you feel about brushing your teeth and what happens if you miss a night. To get you a robust workout habit all you need to do is:
- Cue yourself to say, "hey, I should workout",
- You do a routine of a single squat, pushup, or sit up,
- You reward yourself by smiling and noticing the fresh perspective, reduction in stress, or progress you just made towards your goal."
Most workout plans look like
“At 6am, MWF I will go to the gym and run 1 mile on the treadmill, do the workout plan in my journal and then reward myself with a smoothie."
But what happens when things go wrong? What happens if you oversleep your alarm? What if you hurt your ankle the day before? What if you run out of ingredients for a smoothie? If you don't follow through every time then you're not going to reinforce the habit of working out.
Instead, the routine I'm recommending is the most robust version of working out. The beauty of this habit is that it’s so simple in the time you think about if you should workout, you could have already done that single squat, solved the decision, reinforced your habit and felt good about yourself. Furthermore, because you're doing this everyday you're racking up habit loops even faster than working out once in a while.
Is a single pushup really enough?
One question that you're probably wondering about is volume. "But if I'm only doing one push up per day will that really make me healthier?"
That one pushup is not about the physical change it will cause but the mental change it will reinforce. No matter how hard you workout it's impossible to "get fit" in a single session. Consistency trumps intensity. Yes, to get really great physical results you're going to need to make a bigger plan, like running and lifting weights MWF. But you can do both plans together. The bigger plan takes advantage of days when you have more motivation and this single move plan is your fallback option makes it so you’re always reinforcing your workout habit.
Each time you’re teaching yourself that no matter how you feel you’re going to workout anyways. That’s what it means to have your workout happen automatically. And paradoxically on the days where you have to fallback to your workout plan you actually teach yourself the most about how to workout.
This habit, although seemingly small, will make you consistent with working out. This will help you see yourself as a healthy person and ultimately be consistent with a more intense workout plan. Try this routine daily for a few months and see how it changes your life so your workouts happen automatically for you.
Thanks for getting better,