You've been a workout warrior for a while, putting in time at the gym each day to reach a specific goal or just improve your overall health and fitness. While staying motivated and committed can be tough, celebrating milestones along the way will keep you inspired.
Check out these 15 classic workout milestones and see how many you've already checked off the list.
First Unassisted Pull-Up
You struggle, strain and sweat for weeks until one day your chin finally clears that bar. Congratulations—you've pulled your entire bodyweight up by sheer strength and knocked out your first official pull-up!
Not only is this a difficult move to master, it makes you look like a total gym rock star. Now you get to walk around for the rest of the day feeling like the superhero you are. Still working towards your first pull-up? Take it step by step.
Seeing the Scale Drop (if that's your goal)
You've been consistent with your workouts and diet, and today's the day: You step on the scale and are rewarded with a lower number than you've seen in a while. If weight loss is your goal, there's nothing more satisfying than seeing your hard work in the gym (and kitchen) finally pay off.
Actually Paying Attention to Recovery
Hold the phone: You mean you there's stuff you are supposed to be doing AFTER you work out? Yep, the first time you pay attention to recovery marks a milestone indeed—it means you're really taking your fitness and health seriously.
Stretching, getting in fluids and carbohydrates within that magic 30-minute post-workout window and foam rolling are all important aspects of recovery. Paying attention to what you do after you work out can take your fitness to the next level.
Moving from Machines to Free Weights
For most of us, weight training with machines is in our comfort zone: It feels familiar, safe and it's easy to reach for day-after-day. But after eyeing those free weights for weeks, we finally feel ready to take the plunge. Once you've crossed to the "dark side" of free weights, you won't want to go back. You've opened up a whole new world of exercises to incorporate into your workout.
Preparing a "Clean Eating" Meal
Half of the work of getting in shape is cleaning up your diet. But the first time you are serious enough about changing your eating habits to make an entirely whole foods-based meal in your own kitchen is something to be celebrated.
Training for a Big Event
Whether it's a fitness competition, a local 5K or an obstacle course race, training for a big event is a great way to invigorate your workout routine. The first time you shift your training to focus on a specific race marks a shift in your mental training as well: Now you can visualize that finish line to motivate you even more.
Finding Your First Friend at the Gym
You've been seeing each other for weeks as you trade out weights or swap machines, but the first time you strike up a conversation with a fellow gym-goer can make you feel like a shy kid in middle school.
Taking the leap to introduce yourself or offering to spot someone on an exercise can help you turn a fellow gym rat into a fantastic workout partner and friend. And having a buddy who works out on the same days and times as you can provide motivation and accountability, so you stay committed to your fitness routine.
Doing 10 (Real) Push-ups
Bodyweight exercises can be some of the most challenging, and the on-your-toes push-up is no exception. The movement is great for defining your abs, triceps, shoulders and torso, but it's difficult enough that it may require you to work your way there slowly.
The day when you master this move enough to knock out 10 straight reps is a sure cause for celebration.
Leaving Sweat Marks on the Floor
It could be that steady drip of sweat from your forehead as you hold a plank or the drops that fly from your elbows in spin class, but when you've pushed yourself enough to leave sweat on the floor, you know you've given it your all.
Using a Foam Roller
That weird cylindrical log hanging out in the corner of your gym has suddenly become your new best friend: You've discovered the benefits of foam rolling, Otherwise known as self-myofascial release, foam rolling is a self-massage that helps release muscle tightness or trigger points. When you grab the roller and use it post-workout, you aid in the recovery of your muscles, meaning you'll be less sore when you hit the gym again tomorrow.
Moving Up a Weight Class
It's a great feeling when your usual set suddenly becomes too easy—it's time to move up to the next level of weights. Being able to swap out your barbells for heavier ones is a great indication that you are building strength, and the increased challenge of heavier weights will keep you engaged and progressing towards your goal.
Dropping Body Fat Percentage
Your pants are starting to feel looser but the scale hasn't budged. Before you panic, check your body fat percentage. It's likely that you've dropped body fat and leaned out while building muscle. Muscle takes up less space than fat (it's more dense), and that's why you lose inches without necessarily losing weight.
Holding a Plank for a Full Minute
Another bodyweight exercise that vexes the bulk of humanity—the plank is a calorie-burning, fat-shredding, ab-sculpting move to add to your gym repertoire. But holding a perfectly horizontal plank for a minute? That's tough, as in sweat-dripping, muscles shaking, mind-over-matter tough. The day you watch your phone timer tick past a minute (before collapsing in a heap) deserves a high-five.
Trying HIIT for the First Time
Whether it's a boot camp class, sprints on the track or your own workout, trying some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be a game changer. Alternating between intense bursts of activity and recovery periods, HIIT can burn more calories in 15 minutes than jogging on a treadmill for an hour.
While you won't be able read a magazine or chat since you'll be working hard the whole time, this format offers a new challenge for exercisers and a quick way to get great results.
When Someone Asks YOU for Advice
When you first start working out, you have tons of questions: What's the best way to burn fat? How does this machine work? What the heck is a foam roller? You may feel like you are constantly bugging the personal trainers or fellow gym-goers for help navigating this new world of fitness.
But the day when someone comes to YOU for advice marks a turning point in your fitness journey. You get to impart your hard-earned fitness wisdom to another. Smile, give them your best advice followed by a high-five and get back to crushing your workout.
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