Training Should Build You Up
It’s important that your training makes your life better, preferably in a variety of ways. You want training to be fun, easy to do, and super effective. If your training isn’t all of these things, then it’s going to be difficult to turn into a long-term habit, and at the end of the day, our habits form who we are, what we look like, and how we feel.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="236"] Frank Kern, Stephen Covey quote about how your thoughts and actions lead to who you are.[/caption]
Fatigue Is A Bad Way To Measure Training Effectiveness
Training has often been used as a way of making people feel tired (usually so that they think they have gotten “value” from the session), “feel the burn”, or as some form of weird punishment for things that people have eaten. That is not a healthy approach to training.
As a side note, don’t punish yourself for eating food you like. Make a plan for when you are going to do that allows you to eat those things while progressing towards your goal, and then get back to enjoying the food and progressing towards your goal. Adults are just big kids, and we all know how kids respond when someone tells them that they cannot have a specific treat.
Destroying yourself in training is often just that, destroying yourself. We are not designed to push our limits every day, in fact, our bodies tend to respond more efficiently to training loads that wave between 65% and 85% (Bompa, Periodization for Sport). When we work in these ranges, not only do we get all the physical and mental adaptations that we need (and want!) but we tend to end up leaving the gym feeling excellent, both physically and emotionally.
Even if it wasn’t more effective as a way of achieving our performance outcomes, for most of my clients, their performance outcome is not their primary objective. Getting their first chin up is excellent, exciting, and very worthwhile - unless it causes them to lay in bed for three days or to miss their netball grand final. Everywhere in Brisbane gyms are full of people who are training without a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. In most cases, it’s a simple thing; they want to feel better, enjoy their everyday activities, and live year on year without their health or their waist spiraling out of control. If I send a client home injured because they went for a maximum effort deadlift, I’m not serving their goals.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="157"] We Make Communities By Coach Stevo[/caption]
Greatness is not born from intensity. Greatness comes from showing up again, and again, and again. It comes from being consistent when you don’t feel like it, and from setting up intelligent habits that make it so that you don’t ask yourself the question of whether or not you feel like it. Greatness, whether it is health or otherwise, is linked to doing little things over and over, and these things happen most easily in the context of a supportive community of people, who are doing simple things they like alongside people they enjoy. Research quoted in habitry.com's We Make Communities book says that people are five times more likely to achieve their goals in a group - five times!
Focus On Measurable Outcomes
So if fatigue is a bad way of measuring outcomes, what are some ways that are better?
For most everyday people, it’s about feeling better. Maybe you could track how you feel getting out of bed, or how many times in a week your lower back is sore after sitting all day at work? You could track how your body feels when you finish playing your sport. Or you could focus on learning skills.
Even though most of that list was subjective, they are things that are about you, and that have a huge impact on our quality of life. If your training isn’t making your body feel better, then you need to ensure that the outcomes that you are getting are more important than that!
The great book by Simon Sinek, Start With Why, gets people to attempt to figure out what it is that drives them at their core. What is it that makes everything else tick? Knowing this is going to help you to put together 2-3 things to remember. If you haven’t read the book or watched the TED talk, I would encourage you to take a while later on and do so.
Once you know why you’re doing things, then you can start to pick skills to work on, or activities that will facilitate that. You can also measure how your body is promoting it right now. Most of our clients hire us because whether they know what they want or not; they either don’t know how to get there safely and efficiently or can’t seem to make it happen even though they know how.
The other thing to be aware of is that often, the training that supports your goals is super simple. It's almost always a sign that a trainer is compensating for a lack of knowledge when you get a list of 40 different exercises for every session. We aren’t designed to work like that, and because of that, most of the time it doesn’t work!
Training Should Be Fun
I firmly believe that training is not the best form of entertainment available to modern man. Training shouldn’t be chosen because it is fun or novel. Instead, it should be selected because it is effective and takes us towards the outcomes that matter to us. That said, the most effective training is always the training that you do. The perfect program, if such a thing exists, is rendered utterly useless if it is never done. So while the training itself doesn’t need to be super entertaining because, as mentioned above, that often doesn’t get the greatest outcomes, the overall experience should be enjoyable enough that it is easy to do it again and again.
I mentioned it earlier in the article, but having a great community makes getting to training easier. It also puts you in an environment with like-minded people who are focused on the same outcomes you are. It’s a well-known idiom that birds of a feather flock together. So if you want to move well, laugh a lot and have a body whose function is continually improving, then you probably want to join a community who prioritises those things. You wouldn’t become a part of the same community if your priority were to compete on stage as a bodybuilder because to get the incredible shapes that they get into requires incredible sacrifice. Instead, you’d look for a community that defined itself by being competition ready.
Ultimately, if you’re not enjoying the short and long-term effects of your training, then why are you doing it? If it doesn’t serve your core purpose, then stop it! Find something you love doing or a community you love being a part of, that is going to help you to be the person you’d like to be in 5, 10, 25 years, and then commit fully to becoming that person.
Ask yourself, if I keep doing this and get the logical outcomes, will I want to be that person in 10 years? Is my body healthy or broken ten years from now? Do I wake up sore or do I wake up feeling strong? Am I running rings around my kids, or do I struggle to get outside and get started? Our choices today dictate the person we become tomorrow.
Where To From Here
Here is a brief summary of some of the points in the article:
- Your habits ultimately define your destiny
- Have an idea of your goal, without knowing where you're going you're going to have a terrible time trying to get there.
- Do things in a group with friends; you're five times more likely to reach your goal if you are a part of a community who are working toward it.
- Know your 'Why'; it makes your choices so much easier.
- The training experience should be enjoyable, but that doesn't mean your training needs to be novel.