Written by Tim Rigby
You’ve heard the expression, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”. This expression has a myriad of interpretations, but what it essentially boils down to is that if you make your avocation your occupation, then a given task will not feel as laborious as something you would do reluctantly. How then, can you turn your passion into your way of life – and more specifically, within the realm of fitness? Read on and find out; the answers lie ahead.
THE MAGICAL TRAINING THRESHOLD
Successful athletes have never just one day woken up and immediately excelled at their sport, nor did they instantly possess an incredibly lean and muscular body; they had to work for it and earn it. This much is clear, however, along the way, through hard work and repetitive, disciplined action, they crossed a special threshold; they made fitness so deeply engrained into their psyche that they don’t even think of training as work. They all arrived at a certain point where they just go about training with intensity as instinctively as getting dressed, eating three meals a day, or going to sleep at night. Working out certainly is not a grind in their minds – it just happens.
Arriving at this magical threshold is not always easy, since invariably you’re going to meet pitfalls and obstacles like failure and injuries along the way in your fitness journey. Not getting discouraged, however, and continuing to put in the necessary time and effort are your starting impetus. If you’re so fatigued on a certain day that you can’t lift 90 percent of your maximum weight, then lift 70 percent. Don’t give up and think that a “lesser” workout is regressive. You’re still training with sufficient intensity that your fatigued body will be stimulated for growth and improvement. Sub-maximal workouts have equal importance to maximal workouts as long as your effort is consistent. In your mind, focus on the notion that you’re working out for “the greater good”, and at the end of the day, you can put that important check mark next to that day’s workout in your training journal.
CLEARING HURDLES THROUGH REPETITION
Elite distance athletes like runners and cyclists never listen to music when they’re training for a race. Why is this? The answer lies in the mind. Certainly, to the average person, cranking some tunes can invoke a “pumped up” feeling of energy which leads to greater endurance, however, there’s an even greater power called your own mind. If you can get lost in your thoughts and not fixate on the physical effort of training, then your body will adapt to the stress and simply carry on with training actions in a kind of robotic nature. What’s more, going for a long run or cycle without music is a better replication of competition mode, since you’re not permitted to listen to music during a race anyway.
What if you’re not an elite distance athlete? Maybe you’re someone who just wants to use training as a tool to improve your physical composition? It’s all good – the same concept applies. “Clearing the hurdles” refers to those episodes in training where you have to produce maximum effort within the strict confines of a set. By and large, most sets you lift in the bench press, for example, will require less than 100 percent full-out, leave-nothing-in-the-tank effort, but for those sets which do, you’re going to face mental as well as physical challenges. The point is for you to try to carry out an attempt. If you succeed, great – if you fail, you fail and move on. If you haven’t noticed, failure is the best way for you to gain muscle size and strength. Just don’t be intimidated or discouraged, and the next time you’re faced with such a hurdle, make an equally concerted effort to do your best. As time goes on, you’ll get so used to the hurdles that you’ll soar above them without even thinking about them – just as instinctively as our previously mentioned elite distance athletes.