Working Out: What Counts As A “Workout?”

This week I decided to sit down and try to come up with some basic contingency planning to keep myself on track to complete 300 workouts when life gets in the way. For example:

  • What if I’m traveling for a work and the hotel gym doesn’t have the equipment I need?
  • What if I’m sick and have to stay home?
  • What if something comes up in the morning and I have to workout late at night when my gym is closed?
  • What if I get injured?

Back when I first wrote about going to the gym this time last year, my buddy Phil commented on one of my posts and made a very good point: the gym isn’t the only place to be active. But as I tried to come up with some contingency plans, I kept running into the same question:

What counts as a “workout?”

I’ve structured an entire goal around a workout count, so it stands to reason that I should havea clear definition of what a “workout” actually is. If the family decides to go for a hike, is that a workout? If I get down and do 100 pushups, does that “count” as much as running six miles? What about 50 pushups? What about taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator? What about a single pushup?

I’m relying heavily on this workout count number, both for motivation and for accountability. So I need to protect the integrity of what I’m measuring. At the same time, if I’m in a situation where I literally can’t do any of the pre-defined workouts I have available to me, I still want to do something. Even though putting something in my spreadsheet can be very motivating, it can be just as demotivating when I consider the prospect of doing something physically demanding that I’m not going to get “credit” for. If it’s not going to make it into the spreadsheet, what’s the point?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, yet. Even if I did have them for myself, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be the same for everybody. Nope, as usual you’re watching me in the process of trying to figure it out. I have come up with a few thoughts:

  • All of my workouts involve at least 20 minutes of physical activity, so that’s probably a good benchmark for making something “count.”
  • Running probably has the fewest barriers to entry – I can run any time, anywhere (weather permitting).
  • One of the kettlebell/burpee workouts I do regularly can actually be performed at home if the gym is closed or if I’m sick.
  • Swimming is a good option if I miss the morning workout – there’s a gym with a pool between my office and the bus stop, and I can swim/shower after work before heading home for the day.
  • I’m a member at the Y, and I’ve never gotten any pushback signing in as a guest at a facility in a different city for no charge (for example, working out while visiting Liz’s family in West Virginia).
  • With a little bit of research, I can probably identify several “at home” workouts which target the same muscles I’m scheduled to target using the gym equipment I’m acustomed to using.
  • If I have an injury, I can ask my doctor for guidance on what exercises I can do, and have those workouts “count” until I’m back to full strength.

As I write these out, I can feel the excuses losing their grip on me. If I’m going to care about the number of workouts I do, I expect I’ll always be trying to strike a balance when deciding what “counts.” But giving myself some outs to navigate challenging times will hopefully help keep me on track.

One thought on “Working Out: What Counts As A “Workout?”

  1. Good “thinking out loud” to come to parameters/boundaries which you can use to define your physical fitness regime. I guess this combined with “just do it” can make for success!

    Liked by 1 person

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