Train Smarter Not Harder
- DAN NORTH
- Athletic Performance
It’s easy to get into the mindset of, ‘If I’m not pushing myself to my absolute limit, I’m not getting results”.
Intensity does have its time and place, but not always.
The idea shouldn’t be to constantly train until fatigue, because eventually, you’re going to burn out. It’s like when you are working on a stressful project that consumes a lot of your time and energy…You eventually become overworked and fry yourself out completely.
So, rather than concentrating on all out intensity every time you step into the gym, think of training sessions as building blocks to the bigger picture. Over time, all of these hours in the gym will form together to develop a stronger, healthier body.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were you.
There are two main demographics, in my experience as a trainer, who are regularly guilty of over training:
2. Weekend warriors
Athletes, especially those who are serious about their sport, are competitive. As a result of this competitive nature, they are always striving to be better than they were yesterday. So when they aren’t pushing themselves ‘hard enough’ or feeling fatigued, they don’t feel like they’re doing enough to stimulate a response in the body to improve.
Weekend warriors, particularly the A-type corporate execs, have similar mindsets to athletes in the sense that they are competitive by nature. They know how to push themselves in the workplace and don’t stop working until the job is done. This competitive mindset doesn’t just go away when they step in the gym. They think ‘GO, GO, GO’ all day, every day.
It is obviously beneficial to anyone looking to improve their health and performance to be determined, inspired, and have sound work ethic. It becomes a problem when all of their training is focused on intensity without adequate amounts of recovery.
Here’s what not to do if you’re looking for sustainable progress in your health and performance:
– Consistently train until failure
– Train past failure
– Train until fatigue day after day
– Put recovery on the back burner
Before the bodybuilders freak out about the not training to failure point, you will be an exception to the rule as your training protocol is obviously different than someone who is looking to get into shape or perform in a different sport. In bodybuilding, particularly those who compete at a professional level and use ‘supplemental assistance’, training until failure is standard procedure. For those of us who are athletes in other sports or are simply looking to improve their overall health, failure is not an option (see what I did there).
So, what do we do then? If we shouldn’t train hard every single day?
Well, there are some general guidelines and strategies you can implement into your routine to train smarter and ensure you are getting the best possible results in and out of the gym.
1. Have a general idea of what you’re looking to improve. It doesn’t have to be insanely specific, but if you at least think, “Ok, by the end of this year, I want to be able to do 10 pull ups”, you have something to work towards and a way to measure your progress. Don’t over think this part, just get a sense of where you are right now and where you want to be.
2. See a professional. A professional set of eyes and guidance can be priceless, and is a form of self-investment. Even one session with a trainer can give you a better understanding of what your current capabilities are and how to safely and effectively reach your goals.
3. Think volume. For instance, rather than doing as many push ups as you can until you drop, do a bunch of smaller sets of push ups (ex. 5 sets of 10 rather than doing as many as you can in one set). You will actually accomplish more at the end of the workout and will be more beneficial to your progress.
4. Shorten your training sessions. Don’t stay in the gym for hours trying to do as much as you can. Have a plan, go the gym, execute, and move on.
Remember to train smarter, not harder.