Walk Away To Come Back Stronger Another Day

Walk Away To Come Back Stronger Another Day

Strength, power and cardiovascular fitness forms the foundation for longevity. And these qualities have to be constantly nurtured to stop them from crumbling. They need the integrity that comes from frequent practice.

Yet there is a point of diminishing returns. A point of too much. Be it chasing some random ego-driven numbers with weights, running ourselves to the ground on the trails, or pushing that one extra set or rep when it clearly doesn’t matter.

Should I stay or should I go?
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Strength, power and cardiovascular fitness forms the foundation for longevity. And these qualities have to be constantly nurtured to stop them from crumbling. They need the integrity that comes from frequent practice.

Yet there is a point of diminishing returns. A point of too much. Be it chasing some random ego-driven numbers with weights, running ourselves to the ground on the trails, or pushing that one extra set or rep when it clearly doesn’t matter.

As I am closing in on a full decade of working with clients, and twenty years of training myself, this is one of the guidelines I try to drill into people’s heads (including my own) the most:

It’s okay.
You’ve done enough.
Walk away.
Come back another day.

Not only is it a solid advice, it also rhymes. Which in itself is a great thing in any sentence. And means that because of the poetic beauty in it, it shouldn’t be argued with.

Listen to the sweet whispers of your body.

This can be tricky, and sometimes we abuse it to get away from doing the good quality work. It’s a skill to differentiate between mentally not feeling it and feeling off physically. A skill that usually gets better as the training age increases.

What often acts as a good guide, unless you’re feeling like an absolute dirt, is just starting the workout. Just by completing the movement prep and the first set of training can bring a newly found glory to the body and mind. That’s a sign to keep going.

The opposite is true too. If after the movement prep the body and mind still feel like they’ve been a pinata for a bunch enthusiastic kids high on birthday cake while practising their latest karate moves, it might be better to walk away. Literally, a walk instead might be a good idea.

Only quality reps matter.

It’s often that “one more set” that will leave us feeling like a bag of runny donkey poo for days, even weeks. Injuries, muscle strains and general shadiness usually happen in the vicinity of trying to do a few more.

Quality reps deliver results and leave you feeling semi-fresh. Piling shitty reps on top for the sake of quantity usually does nothing good, but leave you tired. And being tired is not a measuring stick for the success of a training session.

Compare previous results before “I’ll do one more”.

Checking what you’ve done in the past can act as a guide to whether you should do more. If you’re feeling great and one more means just a bit better than in the previous workouts, go at it. Be great. A savage, if you must. Whatever adjective that gets you going will do, really.

If you’ve already done a bit better than before it might be better to walk away. You’ve done enough. Insert the rest of the rhyme here and whistle away.

And if you’re constantly feeling like you’ve been run through a meat grinder it’s time to investigate what’s up.

If you’re like most of us it’s unlikely that you’re training too much. But it could be that you’re training too much for what your body can handle with whatever else is going on in your life. And it often comes back to the basics of not enough sleep and food, of too much stress.

Let’s do just enough to keep getting better.

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