Why You Should Try The Thing You Hate
I remember my first road race. It was a marathon; the twin cities marathon, in fact. When I crossed the finish line, I was hooked! I spent the next 3 years running as many road races as I could and going on long runs to prepare for those road races. Running was my only form of intensity. I lived in my own little world: Monday - 5k time trial, Tuesday - 10-miler, Wednesday was a hill workout, Thursday - 7-12 miler, Friday - sprint workout on tread, Saturday - long 15-20 mile run for time, Sunday - long, slow 15-20 mile run. I didn’t think twice about my strategy to get stronger, stay injury free, or increase performance through power. I was convinced that running more was the answer to everything. In the meantime, I watched all my lean muscle disappear. I looked frail and dealt with injury after injury. I never, ever got any better at running or got faster times, and I felt like crap most days with very low energy. I had one form of intensity and thought that I could only get that hormonal response, the release of endorphins, from that single form of intensity… running. I was chasing a dead end! I had it all wrong!
It’s not too uncommon to find something that you love and then want to continue to do that for a workout, day in and day out, constantly searching for that feeling or response. You can become stuck with a single form of intensity. This could be spinning, yoga, running, or anything. It doesn’t matter. There is another way to approach this; a broader view that will help you see outside of your bubble so you can see more change in your body and your performance. I am here to encourage you to take a chance on playing around with varying ways of creating intensity throughout the week. Not only is variation key in making sure that the body continues to see change, but it is key in creating an individual program that works for you. Specifically, the type of intensity has to vary. I can’t make my tough training days just be my default training day. For example, I like to run so I’ll make my tough day my long run day; or I like to spin so I’ll spin on my tough training day. It’s wonderful to swing that final kettle bell swing or finish that last burpee right on the last second of the workout even if it isn't your favorite movement. You get that high of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
A weekly cycle of training has to ebb and flow. There should be peaks and valleys, work and rest. What’s equally important to recovery, sleep, and good nutrition is to pick what happens on the high intensity work days. As I have said before, adaptation, or change in the body, takes place in this order:
Here is what has to happen in order for you to now take advantage of a week long training cycle so you get the most out of each day.
- There should be 2-3 metabolic conditioning days. Think KB swings, burpees, pull ups, and rowing, all combined, or something like this that gets your heart rate up and you out of breath.
- You should also, not on the same day, have 1-2 very specific strength days. Think 5-7 sets of 5-15 heavy back squats and then 5-7 sets of 5-15 heavy chest press.
- There should be 1-2 days that you spend time just working on position, shape, and mobility. Call this skill development and body maintenance if you will. We all need it in order to progress. Don’t think you can skip this day. There is intention behind it. This is what allows you to move better. Moving better makes you stronger and faster and more efficient, and those things make you more athletic and being more athletic makes you look better!
- Yes, there should be a day or two of rest! Go for a walk outside, do something low level and low key, but enjoy it.
When you come regularly to Fit, we create this variation for you. But remember, you also often have some choice in stimulus (think running vs. assault bike vs. rowing). Make sure you aren't always choosing your favorite stimulus. You'll see greater adaptation and better performance this way.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for new class offerings in our gym so you can create a training cycle that looks like this!