The culture of sweat angels and “no pain, no gain” is pervasive in the fitness world. We’re told that getting lean, strong, and healthy has to be brutal. While some people may be turned off by this message, many eat it up. We’re drawn to overcoming a challenge. We’re drawn to competing with classmates. Our drive to train hard is reinforced by the rush of endorphins following a challenging session. This all-in approach to training is appealing, particularly to those of us who only know two speeds – 100% and 0%.
Some of us are able to go all out without rhyme or reason each time we train. Some of us are able to give it all we’ve got every single day and still make progress. Many of us, though, are crushing ourselves in the gym, day after day, trying to get our names to the top of the whiteboard or keep our FitBit calorie burn as high as possible, wondering why we’re not seeing any changes in the mirror.
Aiming to leave the gym every single day drenched in sweat and barely able to walk appeals to the perception that effort is directly and infinitely related to results. However, this mindset often leads to an approach that lacks consideration for recovery. Training is nothing more than a means for sending the signal for our bodies to change, while recovery is required for that change to actually occur.
Most of us don’t need to, aren’t ready for, and won’t benefit from going 100% every day. We might find this at odds with the idea of physical activity as a means for calorie control…It is…Movement is about so much more than simply manipulating energy balance. Movement is about building strength and confidence in our ability to express ourselves physically. Movement is about being able to live without restriction to a ripe old age. This isn’t achieved by mindlessly punishing ourselves day in and day out. This is achieved by taking the minimum effective dose and then allowing that dose to do its work.
If training is something that you enjoy and would like to make a part of every day, that’s great. There are plenty of ways to stay physically active every day without crawling out of the gym(walking, mobility, hip & core strengthening, doing the WOD at a comfortable pace).
There’s a time and a place for pushing our limits with our training. This can benefit us not only by driving physical adaptation but also practicing the ability to push ourselves through something that we might not want to do.
There’s also much to be said for keeping ourselves interested. No training strategy is effective if we aren’t able to maintain it for the long run, and if blasting yourself in the gym keeps you from staying at home doing nothing, then do it. Just understand that it might be coming at a price. Understand also that this approach is one of the primary reasons so many of us start and stop and start and stop, due either to burnout or injury.
It’s important to acknowledge, though, that some of us might benefit from doing less, not more. It’s okay not to suffer. It’s good not to feel sore 24/7. Effort is necessary for physical change, but too much can prevent it. Don’t be afraid to show up, do enough, and go home. It might not come with the same perceived badge of honor as killing yourself six times a week. It will, however, allow you to get and stay strong, mobile, and confident in your body for years to come.
It will be worth it.
You’re worth it.
You’ve got this.