Training is difficult. While the first 6 months to a year of training can be deceptively rewarding, training should become more difficult as you go. Goals are set and accomplished. New (and more elusive) goals are defined and strategized. Oh yea, I should mention that there is plenty of failure along the way. This sequence is precisely what separates ‘training’ from ‘exercising.’ Training is intentional, and directed towards a specific end. Exercising, on the other hand, requires no such orientation. (Renown strength coach Mark Rippetoe has a ton to say on the distinction- not all of his opinions are necessarily endorsed here).
At Verge, the programming performed at the box each day is part of training regimen. The daily WOD is part of a ‘General Physical Preparedness program’ (GPP). That is, workouts are constantly varied in an effort to develop a person’s overall athletic competence. In a well-written program however, variance does not equal randomness. There is purpose behind every workout. What makes GPP so difficult is that, by definition, athletes are working on so many different things simultaneously… This can be overwhelming. So, once the honeymoon stage of training is over, how do we ensure that training doesn’t sneakily morph into exercise? (By the way, none of this is intended to poo poo the exerciser. Exercise is great. You should do it. I am just talking about a distinction in perspective). Below are 5 things to implement daily…
1. Be purposeful. Being purposeful is a mindset. Just like every WOD has its purpose, every class segment does too. The moment we begin ‘going through the motions,’ we lose purpose and compromise our day’s potential. Instead, work on bringing purpose to everything you do. At the box, mobilize, warm-up, practice technique, workout and cool down with purpose. Your body will thank you and you will get better. Purpose is an everyday endeavor- lose it and progress wanes. Period.
2. Set a daily goal. This goes along with being purposeful. Every workout presents an opportunity. Find it. Do you want to complete a specific movement unbroken? Do you want to swing the heavier bell? These daily goals keep athletes outside of their comfort zone and inching towards a stronger version of themselves. However, use caution in setting your daily goals. Trying to focus on everything, everyday often yields little improvement. Pick what you want to focus on and get a little better, today!
3. Focus on quality, not quantity. Too often, athletes mistake more for better. Truth is, better is actually better. Good workouts are intense. Intensity is the greatest facilitator of physical change. However, ‘intensity’ is often misunderstood (more on this in a later post). For now, think of intensity as approaching all of your WODs with 100% effort. Think of it as pushing for the extra rep, resting less, moving faster or moving in bigger sets. Intensity does not equal volume and does not take priority over mechanics. That is foolish. Understand that regardless of how short a WOD is, it should never be ‘easy.’ See Fran my friends. If Fran took 6 minutes and ‘wasn’t too bad,’ try doing it in 3 and feel the difference. (There is a time/ place for increased volume depending on athlete and goals. Regardless, the quality of workouts should be emphasized before the quantity).
4. Attack weaknesses. Avoid a weakness and it will remain a weakness. Attack a weaknesses and it will improve. Simple as that. The problem with weaknesses is that they limit our output and bruise our delicate egos. Improving weaknesses make for a more capable/confident athlete. Confident athletes enjoy training, therefore train more regularly and experience more gains!
5. Understand progress. Progress takes many forms, most of which are less obvious than a PR. In fact, failing is often progressive. Trouble is, athletes tend to ‘pass/fail’ themselves based on the outcome of one lift or one workout. They tend to believe that what they could do yesterday, they should be able to do better today. Unfortunately, such tangible, linear progress is saved for newer trainees. The honeymoon does end! True progress is the sum of all of the energy, missed lifts, made lifts, good attempts and bad attempts that an athlete puts in over an extended period of time. Find the silver lining in your day’s training. Be honest about what you did well, and what you could have done better. Pat yourself on the back for committing to something positive and work to get just a bit better tomorrow.
The truth is, training is difficult. It is also inherently valuable. The discipline and dedication required to be successful in the gym builds strength and character applicable beyond its walls. These five perspectives ensure a mindset ripe for improvement. Stay focused and keep grinding. The journey is the best part.