Training VS Working Out
Is there a difference between training and working out? Yes! How so?
Let me confess that I am a workout junkie. I love working out doing all sorts of sports and activities. In fact for much of my life this is exactly what I have done, play and play everything and thank goodness I was fairly good at everything, which made it so much more fun for me. However, I never recognized my true potential because I was essentially a scatter brained athlete playing this and that but never putting the time and effort plus focus necessary to see myself all the way through to my potential.
So here I am now, the old guy with the stories that keep getting better and better but not what I should be telling or at least could be telling. Let me say that I see nothing wrong with being a workout kind of person. I believe that it is essential that we do what we perceive best for us. After all, who am I too tell anyone else what to do…of course that is unless you hire me to do so.
However, since I changed my mindset to one of training I have had more success, learned more about myself, the process, the journey and the taste of sweet success or as I say the dessert portion of the menu than every before. The rewards have been far greater than I would have expected.
For instance, when I first began kettlebell training the emphasis was on the basic movements in particular the swing and the snatch since this was the move that I need to perform in order to become certified. For 4 months I honed my skills with first the 2 hand swing and 1 arm swings working my groove, incorporating all the principles and learning how to effectively and efficiently move the kettlebell. After a couple weeks of swings I added the snatch to the movement starting with 16kg and low reps of 5 reps for 5 sets and over the 4 month window gradually progressing to the 24kg kettlebell for high rep sets (keep in mind the test required 28 snatches/arm with the 24kg continuously with only one switch). By sticking to these basic moves and slowly adding in the Turkish get-up, windmill, squat, clean and press over that window I was able to comfortably pass the snatch test and demonstrate both movement and teaching ability of all the above exercises thus earning my certificate.
Having a coach help guide me through this process and teach me the finer points of each move as well as the progressions helped me prepare and successfully complete the program. In addition, I truly began to understand the importance of having a real goal and the necessary attention to detail and preparation required in order to meet said goal. These skills have since helped me continue to achieve and help others achieve as well.
There is a true difference between knowing what you have to do and what you have forth coming than just ‘playing by ear’ or doing what you feel like. For instance, I know that if I keep squatting eventually those numbers are going to grow and it is only going to get more challenging, one look at my workout journal and this is very obvious. Better yet look at professional athletes such as Olympians who spend years practicing, training, refining their skills and abilities relative to their sport and in most cases nothing else! For these athletes peaking at the highest level is their main concern, years of training for one day, one moment.
See for me once I allowed myself to be trained and started to train for something my world opened to a new universe. In addition, I am truly a better coach now than ever before and through/because of my experiences I no longer work people out, I train them. The end of this is better results, more goals achieved and way less issues such as injury and attrition.
I am not saying I never ‘workout’ or work people out, but I see that training and practicing with a blueprint or outline of what I or my clients are supposed to do has led to a better results across the board. I attribute much of this to the dedication, consistency, persistence, patience and focus of the practice which in turn is increasing the skill and truly training the mind and body to function at a higher level with greater integration.
So Below are some of my key training principles.
Keep in mind that training is both a mind and body experience. When we place our body under stress compounded with the daily stress we incur, we are placing our central nervous system in a state where being present and aware of our life conditions and circumstances is crucial to our ability to perform at its highest levels. Training the body trains the mind and the central nervous system, therefore when planning your training regimen keep in mind that what you are truly training is the central nervous system and the brain and in doing so the by products are great training sessions which include great ‘workouts’, muscular conditioning, strength, flexibility, cardiovascular conditioning and a metamorphosis of your body!
• Choose Quality over quantity. Exercise is not so much about how much you do but more related to the quality of the movement. In this instance as in many, more is not always better and in fact for most of us non-professional athletes and weekend warrior types less truly is more. For example, in most cases doing 5 extra repetitions poorly does not serve a purpose other than to increase your risk of injury. So, focus on doing your movements with the highest degree of quality and effectiveness. What this does is train the mind and body to operate at a higher level and in a stronger and more cohesive nature. This will increase your performance capabilities and decrease potentially harmful things like injury.
• Rest and recover including nutrition and sleep are essential to progress. These factors are an equally important piece of the pie for living a fit and healthy lifestyle. For instance, lack of nutrition will negatively effect the positive (good) hormones of your body such as growth hormone, testosterone, etc., which will in turn minimize the positive aspects of your workout thereby limiting your progress. Moreover, lack of sleep will have similar effects on the hormonal structure and function of your body further minimizing your body’s ability to repair and progress. To take this one step further inadequacy in both these areas will hamper not only the positive effects of exercise but will carryover into your everyday life and contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle and therefore overall unhealthy well being.
• Do the things that make you better. When choosing exercise, food, etc. choose the things that you know make you better. This should seem obvious and indeed may be, however more often than not people do the opposite. Thus, pay attention to what makes you better and be mindful in the process of choosing. Again less is more and putting aside ego when performing is essential to truly progressing to a higher level of performance. Keep in mind performance is not only physical but truly is mental.
• Avoid training your mind and body to the point of failure. It is better to under train and go at it again the next day rather than over do it and either hurt yourself or have to rest for a few days. The key to performance is to be able to do your best and do it day in and day out, i.e. consistency. Therefore, if you over do it, putting your mind and body in conditions it is not ready for you will likely end up with a negative result. So, train smart and follow a plan and do not try to be a hero or do something you have no business doing especially if you know the risks outweigh the rewards. Note: There is a point, place and reason to go to failure but this is by no means random but is planned and accounted for!
• Listen to your mind and body. Our body is often much more aware and mindful than we are. So, if you are doing or the plan calls for something that your body or mind says it is not so sure about, listen carefully and you will thank yourself. All things being equal you will have many more chances to do this and much more time in your life to do so. Do not be afraid to rest if that is what your mind and body is telling you. Live to fight another day, being the best you can be. Keep in mind that training is a journey and requires attention to detail internally and externally! I always say that all plans are or should be written in pencil, allowing the coach or athlete to adjust on an as need basis.
• Technique, not reps, sets, and/or weight is the key. Leave the ego at the door and be willing and open to learn how to do (from someone qualified) what it is you wish and then do it right. All too often I see people setting themselves up for or at least putting themselves in harms way for the purpose of ego and/or just not knowing better. That is not a viable excuse when you are sidelined with an injury. There are knowledgable people throughout any area of life who can teach you the how to. Once you learn how to, then practice and do so as close to perfect as possible! Train for life fitness not for the WOD.
• If you train and move poorly you will develop bad habits and be in poor condition. Think posture and think the number of people who have back pain, over 80%. Daily life is not designed to maximize the human body natural movements. We live in a flexion society (sitting, round shoulders, head forward staring into the screen, etc.). These positions and the ones often used in exercise do not enhance our body’s natural function. Therefore, as related to the prior principle of technique, learn how to move and train with proper form and function. Learn to identify what it is your body needs and train/move with good habits. The key is to provide your body with good data so you can perform at high levels, pain free.
• Strength is a skill, a learned skill. Practice, practice and do so with know how and if you want to get better at a particular exercise, sport, etc. you will. If you want to bench press more weight do not spend your time on a bicycle. Strength, as with any skill takes focused, mindful and dedicated/committed action. Take the time, get on the train and enjoy the ride you will truly reap the benefits and come one step closer to your goal and mastering the skill. Again, move through your daily practice with your goal in mind. Choose wisely what you do and how you do it.
• Progression is key. You want to move forward in training as you do in life, therefore progression is key. That means having a strong program design, listening to your body/mind and following the program accordingly. Training, being fit, living a healthy lifestyle, and life in general is truly a journey. You need to know when to push, when to back off, when to rest, when to test yourself, when to challenge yourself and when to make changes. Set a goal, define and design a program to meet said goal, and then follow through with practice and mindfulness. In doing so, you will progress and put yourself closer to achieving said goal(s) and you will find many other benefits intrinsic and extrinsic.
• Clarify your intentions. What is it you want? Clearly defining what it is you want, having a goal leads too much greater reward. However, there is risk involved especially if you set your goal(s) way beyond your means. Your intentions must be clear and so should your understanding of what it takes to achieve these intended concepts. Setting reasonable goals with a bigger picture in mind will lead to greater success.
Life and training for fitness are parallels. They are not mutually exclusive or independent of each other in principal and concept. How we approach our life and our training of our body are reflective of one another. Therefore, it is our principals of living and how we live and go about our daily existence that are key to achieving in life.
One thing is for certain, in life, living at the highest quality with a daily practice that nourishes and enriches all aspects of your being is indeed a way to live a fulfilled existence with health and wealth on all levels.