Count at the Top

May 28 2024


I’ve started doing something new with my workouts. Just a minor tweak. I used to count one! two! at the very beginning of each rep. If it was push-ups, for example, I’d say the number out loud on the way down, before I’d even made it halfway to the bottom.

Now, I only say the number after I’ve made it back up. The rep is not “counted” until it’s actually finished. Now that I think about it, it seems silly to count a push-up before I’ve actually done it.

Maybe everyone else already knows this.

It’s a very minor detail, but my thought is, counting a rep at the beginning is like talking about your plans before you’ve followed through with them. Conventional wisdom says don’t do this, because it subtly tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already done it. Talking about your plans kinda feels like getting work done, when it isn’t. It paradoxically makes you less likely to follow through. You’re better off getting the plans done first, and telling people about it after. If at all.

Of course, people talk about their plans and still follow through with them all the time, and in fact I do usually manage to finish the preemptively declared push-up. Still, saying the number at the beginning feels like taking out an IOU. I think now I actually have to do a push up!

When I do the push-up first, and then count it, it feels like cashing a check. Ching! Job well done.

Subtle and sophisticated, or silly and simple?