The world is plagued with the mindset of more. Work longer hours and sacrifice sleep so you can make more money to buy a bigger house. Buy more stuff to fill up the empty space. Owning more shit doesn’t mean that you are doing better in life. It just means that you own more shit.
We have the same more is better mindset with exercise too. But more is not better, better is better. If exercising hurts, or if you are sick and run down, it’s your body telling you to either stop or to slow down. It’s a safety mechanism to protect the body. It’s not a weakness leaving the body, or no pain no gain. It’s the warning light is on, slow the fuck down because your wheels are coming off.
And how about fat loss. We revolt sustainable plan where little over a long-term is the secret sauce, the almighty magic button. Nah, it sounds too simple, and most definitely not hardcore enough. And it doesn’t sell fitness products or make great marketing. No, let’s attack fat loss by adding more exercise with higher intensity so we can reach the grandiose “fat burning zone”, whatever that means. Because, #gymlife.
Warning light is on, slow the fuck down because your wheels are coming off.
We’ve all been there. Stepping into a gym thinking that the more we are able to do the better the session is. Doing more in the gym equals more tired so that must equal a better session. When in fact, we only made ourselves more tired.
Instead of measuring the success in the gym in the amount of sweat that you are able to expel from your body, focus on asking a one question: did I get better today?
Training is not a war. It is just training.
In 99% of the time after finishing your training session you should feel like you could repeat the session in 3-4 hours, or sooner. If 12 hours later you are hyperventilating into a paper bag, seeing small green men dancing on the horizon, and need an IV drip of Gatorade to function, you’ve probably done too much.
But hey, it does make a great social media story. Nobody wants to read a post that goes, “Just did a medium workout, and it had nothing to do with navy seals. Had energy left in to go again, but decided it was a good time to stop. My legs definitely feel not like jelly. Looking forward to not getting smashed again tomorrow.” Training is not a war. It is just training.
A gym should be a place where you predominantly go to improve yourself. You go there so you can squeeze more out of life outside of the gym. To own a bigger bucket so you can fill it with more life experiences.
With all sorts of thruster-bunnies and burbee-heroes these days it’s hard to believe. Most people seem to be training to get better at training. Somehow we’ve turned gyms into sweat fests where people come to exorcise (or exercise) their demons by doing more, more and more. If one high intensity workout a week is good then 10 must be at a god-level.
The missing connection
We’ve lost the mind-body connection with training. Instead of asking “how does this weight feel when I press it over my head”, we are awestruck and wondering how the fuck did it get there in the first place.
We’ve lost the art and appreciation of graceful movement, the focus on how a movement feels. In martial arts and yoga this connection still exists. Even Arnold said in the 70’s (watch Pumping Iron) that with each rep he focuses on how the muscle feels when the weight is getting lifted. Where did we go wrong?
I’ve trained through pain too many of times. Not because I am tougher than the rest, but because I am dumber than the rest.
I know how it feels when you have to step back and take time off from training or not to go as hard as you’ve used to. I’ve trained through pain too many of times. Not because I am tougher than the rest, but because I am dumber than the rest. I’ve ended up with torn labrum in the shoulder, golfer’s elbow, low back pain, neck pain, knee tendonitis and few other issues. I’ve let these get worse and worse while not looking after myself. And the end result has always been the same: forced rest for a longer than I’d like to admit.
Pushing through pain for short term gains and long term pains sucks giant balls. But it’s a better alternative than needing to take forced rest after you’ve torn your shoulder out of the socket or escalated your cough to a pneumonia. This can easily turn into not only months of missed training, but also into a lesser quality life outside of the gym. I mean, playing frisbee golf with your throwing arm in a sling is only fun for those watching you trying to throw with the non-dominant arm. Hilarious.
There’s an amazing power in being in tune with your body. My challenge for you is to not chase fatigue with training for the next month. Get stronger, improve your movement. And yes, still challenge yourself, but finish fresh. After a month reassess how your body feels.
Did you get better?