The Hardest Part is Just Starting

Some days it’s all I can do to wearily lift my eyes from my desk, peer over the top of my monitor, and look across my basement at the squat rack.

I should’ve lifted this morning, but as usual I went to bed too last night watching the latest episode of The Expanse and couldn’t get up early enough to get a proper lift in before work.

It’s still there now, loaded with my warmup weight, waiting for me to do something useful with it.

I lift almost every day but never actually want to do it when it’s time to do it. Sure, there are times when I actually feel like blasting some music and destroying a set of heavy dumbbells, but that burst of motivation rarely lines up with when I’m scheduled to work out.

Even today I have utterly zero motivation to get under that bar.

But we get under it anyway, don’t we. Bereft of motivation, depleted of desire, detesting its existence and despising the weight stretched horizontally across our shoulders.

Each rep in that first set is torture. Trying to keep some semblance of decent form doesn’t make it easier, and each time we come up from a 90 degree or better angle we come up with a completely valid reason to just skip leg day.

Eventually those first 10 warmup reps get done, though. It’s always a tough first set, if we can even consider it a legitimate set, but we get it done.

Something happens in those 2 minutes between racking the weight and the second set, though. A tiny little sense of accomplishment leads to an easier second set, and by this time our quads are feeling a pump and our sweatshirt is coming off.

Right around the end of my third set – which for me is my first working set – my mindset is completely different. My legs are pumped, my body is warm, and I feel like I can lift for hours. The rest of the workout, despite it being hard on my body, is easy on my mind.

What happened in those 10 minutes? Was is physiological? What is psychological? Maybe it was some combination of both? Whatever the reason, my workouts go into overdrive after about 10 minutes, and what I mean by that is 10 minutes of pushing through that initial block, not 10 minutes of waiting for some sort of motivation to kick in.

This is how it is for so many areas of my life. The hardest part is just starting. And when I do finally take those first few steps, do those first few reps, it’s like a pair of heavy doors to a stuffy room are pushed open letting a burst of fresh air and light rush in.

I’m very consistent with exercise, but it’s not because I feel motivated. For me, it comes down to the sheer discipline of just starting, just taking those first few steps, just cranking out those first few reps whether I feel like it or not. After that, the doors are pushed open, and I hit PRs like it’s going out of style.



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