The Training Balance: Essentials to Improvement

Training is a funny thing: at times, pure and complete common sense rule the roost, while other times the most backwards unnatural thought processes are necessary to overcome plateaus and continue to improve. As the journey winds further and further along, striving for balance ensures continued progression, and can help us assess what is holding us back. Today we’ll stay in the realm of common sense and explore three essentials to training that must be balanced to ensure we stay on track and continue to improve.

Work Hard. Although this seems like a given to anyone that’s put a sweat angel down on the mats at CFA, it’s generally the biggest obstacle to folks when they first set out on the journey to change their fitness and health. We live in a world that revolves around convenience and comfort; this has created a prevailing mindset that very little effort yields satisfactory results. Well I hate to break it to you but 99.9% of the time that’s not how it works. Hard work and high effort are the only things that elicit change, period. If your training doesn’t involve you being uncomfortable, or challenged consistently, then chances are you are just running in place (some more literally than others).

Recover Well. So I know what you’re thinking…“Boom this is in the bag, I’m working my butt off every day, I can sleep when I’m dead, stack the weights on and start the clock, punks!” As Lee Corso would say “Not so fast my friend.” Our second essential to improvement is not rest, it’s not even recover, it is recover well. This is of paramount importance as the recovery process is actually what yields results. Let me break it down…The stress from our hard work breaks our bodies down, which in turn forces them to adapt and rebuild. If this process is repeated correctly, each time we work hard or stress the system we should have a bigger stronger machine that requires more stress to drive adaptation. But what happens if we don’t give ourselves time to rebuild into that stronger machine? Not to be dramatic but it’s pretty easy to see that if you constantly break something down it will eventually be destroyed. In the training sense, destruction at best may show up in the form of lost motivation, plateaus, and/or diminished results. At worst it manifests itself as an injury. That said, we have two choices when it comes to recovery: If you put some effort into your recovery, you’re building a solid sturdy foundation that will be there to support you for years. If you choose to half-ass your recovery, you’re building on shaky ground that can crumble at any time. What constitutes recovering well and recovering poorly goes beyond the scope of this article, but let common sense guide you here. If you’re not confident in your common sense skills ask a coach for some tips!

Consistent Consistency. So we know that we have to work hard to drive change, and we must recover well to see the results of that change. Unfortunately that’s still not enough, one can work hard, recover well, and still fall short. Why? Well consistency is the glue that holds this cycle of improvement together. If we train hard once a week we will no doubt stimulate the system, and also be very recovered from week to week, but unfortunately by the time our next training session rolls around, most of the benefits will have walked right out the back door. Along the same lines, hitting it consistently 3-4 times a week for a month straight will yield some killer results, but those results will be fleeting if your month of consistency is followed by bouts of inconsistency. So what’s the reality of all this? Well, good training isn’t just an every once in awhile kind of thing, it’s an always and forever kind of thing—both short term and long term. Just like any habit (good or bad) it will stay with you forever if you make it constant part of your life.

There you have it, the three essentials: Work hard, recover well, and consistent consistency. These concepts go beyond training and can be applied to any aspect of your life, just sub the word training with work, nutrition, or family and the same concepts still apply. These are macro concepts but they can also be applied at the micro level as well, i.e.:

  • Are you working hard at improving your snatch? (hard work)
  • Are you allowing adequate rest and reflection times between the bouts of hard work or are you trying to force it by doing it non-stop? (recovering well)
  • Are you practicing your snatch consistently enough to maintain the cycle of improvement? (consistent consistency)

These are the essential folks, so now it’s time to put them into action. Take one aspect of training—or life—that you’d like to improve. Ask yourself, are you applying all three of the essentials? If not, find which ones are lagging behind, and make a concerted effort to improve in that area. Then let us know how it goes. Training, just like life, really comes down to the simple things.

Yours in Awesomeness,

Coach Wes