FIT36 High Intensity Interval Training

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Self-Limiting Exercise: What You Need to Know

Self-Limiting Exercise: What You Need to Know


Has anyone ever described you as “self-limiting?”  If so, and in case you didn’t realize, this was not a compliment.  If someone sticks that adjective onto you, it means they view you as all talk with no action, thinking of yourself as powerless, and failing to take responsibility for the negativity in your life.   Ouch.  Not exactly your Tony Robbins moment. 


However, at FIT36, we toss around that phrase for a much different purpose, with a much more positive connotation.  In fact, it’s one feature that makes our HIIT classes so powerful, empowering, and effective.  And in case you’ve been wondering exactly what it means, we thought we’d offer a little “Self-Limiting 101” this week.


  • Self-limiting exercise is an exciting combination of mindfulness and fitness.  This kind of exercise forces you to be fully aware and present in your workout.  In other words, no popping in the earbuds and blindly climbing on the treadmill, ready to let the machine do the thinking for you.
  • Self-limiting exercises naturally encourage and develop proper form and technique.  They can help you identify movement errors and correct them.  They demand attention, and can improve motor function and coordination.  They can help develop your physical and mental acuity. 
  •  The beauty, and the frustration, of these exercises, is that it quickly becomes quite apparent when you’re doing them incorrectly.  One great example of this is jumping rope.  If, mid-jump, your mind starts to wander, your shoulders start to slump, or your feet slow down, the entire exercise falls apart.  You’re forced to stop, realign yourself, refocus, and begin again.
  • One more for the great-but-annoying column: these exercises do an effective job of highlighting your weakest parts, such as grip strength, ankle strength, balance, or core strength.  Simply put, if all parts aren’t equally up to the exercise, you won’t be able to complete any more reps.  These exercises can help you to be a more well-rounded athlete and encourage head-to-toe strength and competency. 
  • Other examples of self-limiting exercises include single-leg squats, single-arm farmer’s walk, pull-ups, uphill sprints, walking with heavy weights, and barefoot running.


Personally, we love the mental discipline that can develop by being totally mentally engaged with your exercise.  Also, we’ve noticed that plenty of our clients have struggled with weak grip, poor balance weak shoulders, or other frailties.  They try for weeks to master a certain move, and end up failing in frustration a few times.  However, with the encouragement of the FIT36 coaches, they inevitably keep at it, developing their “weakest link” a little more each week.  And in the end, when they finally strengthen and sharpen the weaker area and can master the exercise, they experience a tremendous pride and confidence. 


In fact, “self-limiting” is actually an ironic name for these cornerstone movements of our HIIT classes.  For when they are struggled with, and then ultimately mastered, our clients feel a renewed confidence in their bodies, and an excitement about their athletic abilities. 

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