A Fork In The Road

I was in the gym the other day with my client, Laura. Laura is super strong, trains consistently and is committed to improving herself all the time. Recently, Laura has had some minor shoulder discomfort - minor enough that if she wasn’t in tune with her body she might not have even noticed. She’d also been juggling a whole bunch of different things as she sought to improve herself in multiple domains. In short, Laura had pushed so hard, in so many different ways that she was approaching burnout, and was seriously considering taking a break from training.

Training and programming are a bit of a juggle. We want to get places as fast as we can, but we want to avoid injury wherever humanly possible. In my opinion, the latter is significantly more important for most people, but most people only tend to realise this when they discover they’re hurt. We get hurt in multiple ways, not just physical injuries, but also mental and emotional, and unfortunately, a depleted central nervous system can contribute to harm in each of these areas.

Our body is an incredible machine, and to a certain extent, it’s capable of maximising its capacity to deal with whatever is thrown at it by drawing from its deep reservoirs. Stress is stress. Our goal when we are training or coaching is to create plans that allow people to progress consistently, stay healthy, and to avoid harm, by both accounting for, and leaving a buffer for stress.

After chatting with Laura, we realised that the time right now was not the time to push hard in the gym to kick a goal here. Laura is already strong, and that shoulder has the potential to create a long-term issue that affects her not just in the gym, but in her work as well. We ended up putting her on a program that was easy for her. Ridiculously easy.

Here’s the kicker, Laura is feeling stronger, more positive, and has the capacity to start to push again if she wants to. Her movement is better, her shoulder feels better, her outlook on life is better, and she’s actually on track to start kicking goals anyway, and the other day I had the conversation that inspired this article.

“This feels so easy, maybe I should skip up two weights at the end of this program instead of one, I feel like that will be quite achievable…” To which I responded, “you feel great, you’re moving brilliantly, and in six months time you’re going to crush a weight that only a month ago felt like an insurmountable obstacle, and you’re going to do the majority of it feeling like its super ridiculously easy… Why make your session hard?”

Moral of the story: Value the outcomes more than the effort…