The MSP Fitness Index is a monthly blog post covering the extracurricular things both Michael and Taylor have been reading, listening to, processing, or just really digging at the present time. As MSP’s Head Coach and Assistant Coach respectively, Michael and Taylor trust this month’s Index will be insightful, transparent, and inspiring as they share glimpses of what’s going on between their ears.
Training Makes you LESS FIT.
I’m guilty. That was a 100% click bait title if I ever wrote one, but hopefully it got your attention.
Here we are on the other side of Memorial Day. A weekend that in this part of the country many run away to a cabin, or local lake with family and friends to usher in summer. Over the years working with a wide range of clients, there have been some who actually get nervous, stressed out at the thought of getting away and out of their training routine, as if something dire will come from them taking a long weekend off from “Fitness”. They will often come to me and try to find anyway possible to continue their training while away, not out of desire and positive energy, but out of fear and what I perceive is a negative place.
I completely understand the fear, and appreciate that they are able to notice their feelings. That’s a great first step. However if the energy and nervousness around training uses words like SHOULD, MUST, NEED, then I feel some introspection is warranted. Different story if it’s coming from a honest place of want, desire, and excitement.
If fitness, movement, training is part of your everyday life and routine, then rest and relaxation also deserves a place in that prescription. You can’t have one without the other and here is where my blog title does have some truth to it. Training does makes you less fit, temporarily of course. Progress from that training is only made if the body is allowed to recover from that stress you put upon it. Proper recovery can come in many forms, and one of the simplest ones is to give the body a rest from the input of stress…i.e. stop training.
Hopefully your training program has ‘rest’ days yes? If not you need a new program!
Within that thoughtful program of training and recovery, there will be the occasional window for extended recovery opportunities like this past weekend. You should take it. Of course there are so many variables with all that I’m saying my head spins, but if we stick to the 30,000ft view for a moment, for those of you who have the words SHOULD, MUST, NEED around your training, I’m here to say that you need a break more than most. Get out in that canoe, take a plunge in the lake, enjoy a serene walk through the woods (but check for ticks when you get back…seriously those things FREAK ME OUT).
It’s all good. You’ll be fine. You’ll actually be better than fine as you’ll see/feel how all of the time, dedication, energy you’ve invested in yourself with your training has larger purpose and value. That canoe oar will feel light as you slice through water. Swimming out to that floating platform will be effortless. Walking through those hills and valleys will seem like child’s play and why, because you’ve earned that with all of your hard work. I wish for you to enjoy the fruits of your labor and not feel like you’re missing anything, because you’re not.
Intuitive training and the concept of carryover.
Two weeks ago, Michael and I headed down to Chicago for the 2017 USA Weightlifting National Championships. It was my third trip to nationals and while I certainly had my weightlifting fun, I always look forward to the break that comes after a big meet.
With nearly two weeks to do whatever I wanted training wise, what should a strength coach choose? Knowing a break from the barbell lifts was imperative, I opted for falling back on something I’ve utilized in the past. I call it training intuitively. In essence, if a lift or a workout pops in my head, I tell myself I have to do it. Fortunately for my body, my mind derives no pleasure in physical suffering. Needless to say, I wasn’t going to go for a run… or was I?
The thought of going for an exploratory jog materialized sometime in the days after the meet and my first thought was, “You’ve got to me kidding me intuition!”. You see, my conscience usually suggests something like a kettlebell complex, unilateral work, or a literal armful of bicep training. But running?!? Ugh.
Weightlifting, along with a college career in the discus and hammer throw, might have made me a power zealot; however, short bursts of energy weren’t always the predominance of my training. As a child I dabbled in every popular American sport, discovering my mediocracy at all but a few. Even with that history, I can’t say I’ve ran more than a mile in the last five years. Oh boy, this could be interesting. Needless to say, I laced up some trainers, did about a five minute dynamic warm up, and hit the trail.
Wow! Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t the first thirty seconds of a jog feel amazing? Here’s the thing though… It kept feeling amazing. That’s right! I just kept going. The sun was out, it couldn’t have been much over sixty five degrees, and I was feeling F-I-N-E. How could this be?
Despite the way our brain tries to categorize progress, the human organism isn’t made of training goal “buckets”. There’s no physiological “endurance” pail for you to fill with aerobic work. Likewise, there’s no “power” bucket topped off by my routine training for Olympic Weightlifting. You see, physiology doesn’t work like a video game avatar. Regardless of our attempts, no amount of experience points can purchase the physical attributes we desire. Instead, one must put in a large quantity of goal orientated work, mind the need for specificity and rest, and continue to stay diligent until the results amortize.
This translatory process highlights how a gym rat like me can still go hit the path for some basic cardio and not die. Sure, I’ve put in a lot of strength and power work over the years, but that’s the thing, I’ve done A LOT of it. Four to five ninety-minute long training sessions per week adds up. A decade plus of lifting more days in a year than not all compiles to provide me with a base cardiovascular ability regardless the domain. I can hop on the bike and commute to work, I can go on long walks with the kiddos, and yes… I can run for fifteen minutes without dying.
So here’s two lessons:
1. Train intuitively now and again.
- With a history of various physical activities under your belt, listen to your body every once in a while. Take a walk, take a nap, take a swim, climb a tree! (If physical training is newer to you, filter your conscience a little. i.e. no impromptu marathons)
2. Don’t go chasing attributes.
- Q: How strong / fast / enduring do I need to be? A: Strong enough, fast enough, and able to go the distance.
- Don’t go chasing attributes by completely revamping your workout plan. Stick to your primary goals and recognize that training is translatory. The overall adaptations you are making in your workouts carryover to other aspects of your fitness.
So train on friends! Let us know what physical activities you do to break up the mundane moments. As for me, I think I might go on another jog.