What is a Habit? Change the routine!
Habits are “an acquired mode of behaviour that has become nearly or completely involuntary” (Anon., 2018. Habits).
Habits are made so frequently that they turn into unconscious repetitions in our daily lives. We all have habits. Charles Duhigg from the New York Times explains the scientific behaviors about habits, “each of our habits has a different catalyst and offers a unique payoff. Some are simple and others are complex, drawing upon emotional triggers and offering subtle neurochemical prizes” (Duhigg, C., 2013).
We all have habits and most have no recollection of them at all. Some of these habits we need to change but at times we are in need of outside support and guidance. The reason for that is the, “lack of understanding what a habit really is” (Duhigg, C., 2013).
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that all habits are made up of 3 parts: a routine, a reward, and a cue.
The cue is what nudges us or triggers us to take action on our behaviors. The routine is the behaviour you want or need to change. The reward is the unconscious craving, or the underlying reason why we have the habit in the first place.
Coming to the gym should be a habit that we do repeat weekly but should a gym routine be a habit?
No, and here is the reason why.
Many people go to the gym because it provides change either in aesthetics or the psychological thought “it feels good” arises when we exercise. The benefits of performing correct exercise is the improvement in performance or physique. Sadly with some of us that isn’t always the case and can be very confusing. We are told to go to the gym and exercise but at times no reward or change comes. Why is that?
However, muscles may adapt so well and become so used to a specific exercise, or group of exercises, that simply increasing the weight load doesn’t result in improvements.
The main reason for this is the lack of understanding of how the body works. Muscles adapt to external forces. Muscles have a need to adapt by growing or building their resilience to these external forces. The gym is made up of equipment that is used to grow muscle while performing movement that provides the proper stimulus for muscle growth rewarding us with our fitness and aesthetic goals. If we go through the motions, or follow a habit in the gym these goals won’t ever be met. M.L. Rose from Livestrong.com wrote, “muscles may adapt so well and become so used to a specific exercise, or group of exercises, that simply increasing the weight load doesn’t result in improvements” (Rose, M. L., 2017).
The habit of going to the gym is great but you need to continually remember why you are going to the gym. What is your purpose in going to the gym? If it is to see these performance and aesthetic changes in dropping body fat and increasing muscle or to improve your fitness levels then a change in an exercise routine is necessary.
Have you heard of 12 week programmes? These programmes change and incorporate new exercises that are in-line with your growth rate. As you become stronger you will desire what we consider a “challenge”. This proves to you that you are ready for more external stimuli that will help you continue to adapt and grow leading you to the rewards you truly are looking for.
If you look back at your exercise routine and see yourself going through the motions not achieving the changes you desire, it is because you are stuck in a habit that needs changing.
Anon., 2018. Habits[online]. Available from: Habits by Merriam Webster [Accessed 6 Mar 2018].
Duhigg, C., 2013, J. / F., Sholl, J., Larsen, K., and Heath, C. and D., 2018.Available from: The power of habit [Accessed 6 Mar 2018].
Rose, M. L., 2017. Available from: Muscle adaptation during exercise, Livestrong [Accessed 6 Mar 2018].