We are so often in a rush to progress that we slow down our long term progress through injury or burn out. In this article I share tactics for assessing if you’re using the appropriate loading strategies to find long term progress.
No spam – just thoughtful training advice
This article is aimed at those who already have an established movement practice, who have a tendency to move too fast and do too much. If you are a beginner struggling to stick to your habits this may sound hard to believe, but as a gym owner and coach I see example of this all the time. In this article I hope to provide some self reflection practices you can use to help you pull back from training volumes that are too aggressive.
When we apply stress to create a stimulus that will eventually create a physiological adaptation we create a process of change. This is a beautiful thing and what motivates me both to train myself and coach others. However there can be a negative side to this adaptation that we need to be aware of and our awareness of it can help us find sustainable growth in resistance training but also in other areas of our lives.
We are so often in a rush to achieve our goals, to move aggressively forward towards them that we take unnecessary risks and make poor training decisions. When I was in my early 20’s I trained twice a day, and was obsessed with making progress in my physical endeavours. This led to both burnout and injury and on top of that, not even that much progress. I was being greedy with adaptation, I wanted too much too soon and needed to be patient.
How much do you need to move forward this week towards your physical goals, are you an olympic athlete that needs to make significant progress over the next few months? If you are not a professional athlete and are still moving towards a physical goal, then the likelihood is that you do not need to make much progress at all, you need a small drop of adaptation from your efforts and you need to repeat that process a thousand times.
If you’re being aggressive with your training volume and intensity, you are constantly putting yourself at higher risk of injury. This is something you need to be asking yourself on a regular basis. Am I risking injury by making this training decision? If you are a coach, you also need to make this decision on a weekly basis, am I risking injuring my client through poor session design or exercise selection. Injury is the best way to prevent consistent output and consistent output it the most important factor for progress. So risking injury is counterintuitive to our long term goals.
I like to reflect on this when I find myself or my clients being in such a rush to progress. Why if I speed up the process of goal attainment will it benefit me? Whatever happens, when the goal is obtained I will set another one, so the best way to proceed is to methodically move towards a goal, not with a sensation of frustration or haste, but as if you have an appropriate plan that makes it likely for your goal to be achieved.
Once we have a movement practice that suits us and captivates are attention for whatever reason, we need to ensure that this process is enjoyable and fun. When we have already established ourselves as very healthy individuals through physical endeavour, moving should become about enjoyment, not frustration. When we enjoy the process of goal pursuit, we find a deep appreciation for the behaviours that lead to that goal, we enjoy the act, moving through our training plan can become atelic as if there were no goal to be attained. This is how we get the most out of our moving practice, through a deep appreciation of the act. When this is the case we allow ourselves to apply the appropriate dose and are not frantically rushing towards our goals.
When we are striving for stable progress over a sustained period of time we need to be constantly applying the correct amount of stimulus, not too much that we burn out or get injured, not too little that we stagnate or get bored. This constant drip of the appropriate loading will result in long term progress and it is extremely satisfying when you find it. It takes time and experimentation to find how much stimulus is correct for you, so be patient and take your. Try different things and see what works for you personally.
Once you have found your groove and are applying appropriate stress and adapting as you would like, life will probably throw you a curve ball and you will have to roll with it. The process of progressing at both physical and intellectual tasks is one of the most rewarding in invigorating processes available to us. I love it, the goal setting, plan creation and execution is extremely satisfying. However it can also be one of the most frustrating at the same time. Accepting the progress is not linear improves your experience of the process from goal setting to pursuit.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.