Training Vs. Straining: Which Are You Doing?

Think back to your most recent workout. What was the goal? Did you get close to your goal? What did you do to make yourself better? Why did you do that workout? What’s next? What did you get out of that workout? How many burpees did you do?

Now, some (or most) of you reading this just realized that you cannot honestly answer any of those questions. You have no idea why you chose the workout you did and you you’re not quite sure if it worked; all you know is that you got hot and sweaty and your body did some stuff that should make you sore. Here’s the thing…and let me make myself abundantly clear…THAT IS OKAY, it just didn’t do you any favors.

If all you want or need from your fitness routine is to feel tired and beat up, then okay. Stop reading. High five, keep gettin’ it. If you need something more from your fitness routine (results, change, etc.) and I have captured your attention, please stick around.

TRAINING is planning work and working a plan. It requires some attention to detail; what’s the point? What happens next? Why does this matter? Think about training a pet or potty training a child. THERE IS A POINT TO WHAT YOU’RE DOING. There is a step by step process you’re following to make it work. Nobody just makes up stuff willy-nilly with their dog and hopes that it sticks. No, you figure out the skill you need, you devise some ways of tricking the dog into performing the skill, you create a reward system, and over time you create a habit that the dog naturally follows thanks to regular intervention and rewarding. Training your body is the same way.

Think of the goal. Think of the wants and needs related to the goal. Now, think of what you’ll need to hold yourself accountable and ensure you reach your goal. Think of the steps you need to take to start, maintain, and finish the process. Think of the moments of triumph you’ll use as check-ins to reward yourself. Think of the next step after the goal is accomplished. That’s training. Afterwards, you feel better than ever, and ready to tackle something else.

STRAINING is just making things hard for the sake of making things hard. You get red, you get sweaty, you get tired. Then, two days later, you roll out of bed, feel sore, decide that the pain and stiffness is the sign that it is working (weird, right?) and do it again. Over time, you find that you’re not getting as tired. You’re not as sweaty. Uh-ohhh. You don’t know what to do because you never thought of what the next step would be, so you stop for awhile and try something different to make you sweaty. Then, because that’s challenging in ways you don’t like (uncomfortable machinery, different people, etc.) you revert back to the thing you’re comfortable with and just do it until you get sweaty again. If you don’t get red, it must have not worked, so you just take some time away from it all until you’re convinced you need to get sore again. Then you do the same stuff again. That is straining, and that is what the large majority of people do with their time in the gym.

Your body deserves so much more than just exhaustion and soreness. Your body deserves maintenance and care. A couple tough weeks of work followed by some scheduled check ins and assessments. Your body deserves to be BUILT UP, not TORN DOWN. Your body deserves to be pushed to learn something new and become better than ever, not just given what it’s always been capable of. Your body deserves to be TRAINED, NOT STRAINED.

Think back to my original questions, now. What is your goal? What do you want to do to reach your goal? What will you do once you reach your goal? Please, please, please….do not just do burpees and hope it works. Think about it, plan it out, and come up with a few steps. If you can’t do that right now, guess what? THAT IS WHAT I AM HERE FOR. Let’s start training.

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