“What else can I do?”
That’s one of my favorite questions to ask about my body’s abilities. And discovering the answers through consistent hard work is a rewarding, and empowering, experience.
A couple years ago I set a deadlift personal record when I pulled 250 (double bodyweight) for 10 reps. After a years-long hiatus from deadlifting, that was a fun milestone to hit. Afterwards I wondered, “What else am I capable of doing?”
That led to the creation of short- and long-term goals I wanted to achieve.
Answering that question led to some fun personal records like bench pressing 135 pounds for five reps and, most recently, achieving a long-term goal of pulling 275 pounds (2.2 times my bodyweight) for 8 reps. When I completed that set I knew I had more in the tank, so when my next deadlift session rolled around I took 275 for a spin once again, and nailed it for a set of 10 reps.
I’m quite pleased with that accomplishment. It was a long road to achieve, and surpass, my goal, but it was a fun journey answering the “What else can I do?” question. Not only did my consistent training result in some personal records, but valuable lessons were reinforced along the way, like the importance of patience and persistence.
“What’s the point of this?” you may be wondering. While I certainly like the physical changes that result from progressive, dedicated training, I love the challenge of discovering what I’m capable of doing even more. It allows me to appreciate my body in new, oftentimes unexpected, ways while fueling my training with purpose. This experience is echoed by trainees who give the performance-focused approach a try.
If you’ve never asked yourself, “What else can I do?” or, simply, “What can I do?” and have always chased a smaller number on the scale, attempted to “fix” body parts you don’t like, or have otherwise focused solely on how your body looks, then now is a great time to ask that empowering question instead.
Then discover the answers however you prefer. That’s the beauty of this question: You can answer it in countless ways.
If you like cardio-based activities, set goals for those. Aim to run or bike a certain distance in progressively less time, or set goals for recreational activities like training to go on more challenging hikes or bike rides. If you like lifting heavy barbells, set goals for exercises like the squat, bench press, deadlift, standing press. If you prefer bodyweight exercises or working out with dumbbells, come up with goals for those training methods.
There are myriad ways to answer the “What else can I do?” question so you can fine-tune the method to fit your preferences.