I often hear people say that they are frustrated because they have been training “hard” and not seeing a change in their performance in real life tasks. This is a very understandable frustration and consequently one of my favorite problems to solve. Before we look at the solution let’s figure out what the real problem is.
Have you ever seen someone that can squat tons of weight in the gym but always seems to tweak their hamstring while playing a friendly game of flag football? Or the one that can bench press a house but has a permanently nagging rotator cuff? Or maybe it’s more subtle…doing cardio every week but still getting achy knees after going for an intense hike. In it’s simplest form, the training is not working. If you are training regularly in the gym and still getting achy and/or injured when you do real life tasks, the training is not doing its job.
There is a huge problem with the way most people train. The vast majority of people I see in the gym are doing one or more of the following flawed methods:
- Long, slow easy cardio (usually while simultaneously reading a magazine, listening to music and watching TV…not exactly focusing on the task at hand)
- Haphazardly lifting the most weight they can without focusing on using the correct muscles
- Stretching while talking and letting their mind wander
- Those are the main flaws, though there are many others that I could mention. In fact it is a main goal with my Personalized Remote Coaching clients to determine and fix said flaws.
Now let me preface the following by saying, I am a big proponent of movement… simply getting up and moving. That is what we are designed for. Movement is better than no movement. However once you get moving, there are some principles that will make your training translate better to everything else you do in life. And that is the goal right? Train hard… hit the golf ball further. Train hard… be pain-free walking up and down the stairs. Train hard… be fully prepared to take that rock climbing expedition you’ve always wanted to.
So what is the real problem? In its simplest form, the problem is not training at the same level of intensity that life requires.
- Slow easy cardio followed by difficult hiking with big step-ups and step-downs equals sore knees/hips
- Bench pressing without engaging the correct muscles will cause you to use those same incorrect muscles to throw a football creating sore (or injured) shoulders/elbows
- Slow, lazy squats followed by sprinting opens the door for pulled hamstrings, groin, etc
See the pattern? Low intensity training followed by high intensity real life task equals PAIN/injury!
So now we know the problem. Before we move on to the solution, check out this short video with a guy that I used to train with named Jay Schroeder. He was a big influence on me and has a great perspective on translating training methods to real life results. Here, he is relating training to competition. This mindset is rare as a lot people do not want to exercise (or live) at a level that is going to challenge them every single week.
Ok, so now we know that we need to train at a higher level of intensity so that it translates to real life endeavors. Here are my 3 simple rules for making any and all training effective.
- Proper position. I will expand on this soon but as a general rule, if it feels un-athletic and dangerous, it probably is.
- Activate correct muscles. Don’t just “move weight”. Move weight by using the appropriate muscles. Think about what you are working before you start an exercise and focus on those muscles throughout.
- Max effort. This does not have to be applied to every part of your training. Some moderate level exercise is acceptable. However, you must have max effort training in your weekly program. Click HERE to look back at the message from a few weeks ago regarding the vast health benefits of max effort training.
That was definitely a lot of information. I will expand on this in the next few messages. For now let’s start this week by focusing on proper position. This is the starting point of all good movement. As you train, focus on not just haphazardly getting through an exercise…but executing the exercise with flawless position. Train hard. Be strong!