Want to get a bigger chest without having to buy a gym membership? That’s Easy, One of the answer’s is… good ole fashion push ups.
Now don’t get frightened away because I mention how doing 150 push ups a day can transform your chest. Unless if you’re already fit and workout on the regular, doing 150 push ups a day isn’t a walk in the park and takes time to build your body to that level. That’s why I’m going to share with you how you can get started to build yourself up to that level like I was able to!
1. Baby steps trump big leaps
Despite having a personal best of 20 push ups before I began developing my daily push-up habit, I decided to start Week 1 with one push-up a day. Why? I wanted to make the habit so easy I couldn’t say no.
Many people attempt to make changes in their lives by taking big leaps, when, instead, they should focus on ONE tiny change at a time. For example, going to the gym for 15-minutes a day, twice a week, as a beginner, is A LOT easier than going for an hour, five days a week.
Similarly, by starting at one push-up a day, I had 20 weeks to automatize the habit and before I even arrived at my personal best in Week 20. Having that momentum behind me made showing up and doing the work a lot easier. This leads me to the next lesson I learned…
2. Consistency is everything
The more I study habit formation the more I realize the habit is not counting calories, going to the gym, writing in your journal, completing a project, decluttering, reading … it’s STARTING.
There are going to be days when you don’t feel like doing the habit, but if you commit to taking the first step – opening the app, picking up your gym bag, turning on your laptop, writing one sentence, turning on your Kindle – you’re a lot more likely to follow through with the full behavior.
There were many days when I didn’t “feel” like it, when I rationalized, “one day won’t hurt” when I couldn’t be bothered – but I still committed to taking the first step: getting into the push-up position. If all I did was that, I always followed through with my push ups.
3. Don’t be afraid to chunk habits down
When you take baby steps, the habit is easy to start and easy to sustain. But as you graduate to the full behavior, it grows and you risk jeopardizing your progress.
To prevent this from happening, chunk the habit down into smaller manageable segments.
When I arrived at Week 20, for example, I chunked my 20 push ups into two sets of 10 with a one-minute rest time. As behavior change writer James Clear says, “Do things you can sustain.”
4. Set milestones (and celebrate them)
If you’re a long-time reader, you’ll know I’m a strong advocate of “gamifying” habit development and playing “small, addictive games” (HT: Daniel Coyle). When building a habit, there are many milestones you can celebrate including:
Doing the habit once
Doing the habit two days in a row
Doing the habit seven days in a row
Doing the habit 30 days in a row
Missing one day but resuming the next
And so on.
You can also celebrate achievements related to metrics. For example, doing 10 push ups was a milestone for me, as one 25 and, of course, 50.
Remember, if you can count it, you can turn it into a game.
5. Focus on perfect processes (not outcomes)