Reality Check: 7 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself About Your Training
You all have goals, but are you optimally achieving them? Is what you do leading to what you want? Are you attempting to get stronger, lose fat, improve your endurance, compete in a particular sport, or lift a certain amount of weight? Are you performing the proper exercises, drills, and exercise prescriptions? Are you working hard enough and recovering properly? Are you experiencing a lot of injuries due to your training? Is your nutritional intake in line with your goals?
Good grief. There are so many factors that go into achieving a simple goal. Why does it have to be so complicated? It doesn't. Heed these seven simple questions and honestly check yourself on each:
1. Are you performing the right activities to reach your goal?
Many people mistakenly use the wrong activities as the end all, be all way to goal attainment. If you're attempting to get stronger, you need to strength train hard. If you're trying to get lean and more defined, you must eat better, strength train, and engage in high-calorie burning exercise. If you're attempting to improve your endurance, surely you must engage in demanding endurance training. If you're attempting to better yourself in a specific sport competition you must practice that competition.
2. Are you training with the correct intensity?
Most desired physiological alterations such as improvements in strength and endurance require hard effort. Understand that to make your body change, it must experience an overload that requires it to actually change. Likewise, skill improvement comes from the exact practice of skills. This means intense repetitive practice, practice, and more practice. Are you giving it?
3. Are you training safely?
If you're goal is just to lose fat, get stronger, look better, or improve endurance, avoid dangerous exercises that involve yanking, jerking, and throwing resistances. They are unnecessary. In addition, avoid at all cost bounding and jumping activities that can lead to acute injuries. Training should be safe. If you're using high-risk exercises to achieve simple fitness goals, you've been drinking the Kool Aid (more on this to come).
4. Are you a competitive athlete or someone seeking to get in shape?
There is a huge difference. If you're a competitor, most likely you'll need to engage in training that has some risk: joint compromising bouncing, jerking, and explosive exercise movements, along with awkward jumping, twisting, and landing situations. If you're a non-competitor just trying to get in shape, you don't need to expose your body to those stresses. In your case, stick to safe and simple training.
5. Are you training too often and too much?
Being over-zealous and training too much leads to physical and mental fatigue, and increased potential for injury. I appreciate people who are dedicated and make training a priority. However, if you work hard, you must rest hard to accrue positive results.
6. Is your nutritional intake appropriate for your goals?
This one is big. If you want to grow larger muscles, eat more. If you want to fuel your sport properly, eat smart. If you want to feed yourself properly for an endurance event, eat strategically. If you want to lose body fat, eat less. These points are oversimplifications, I know. Educate yourself relative to your goal.
7. Are you drinking the Kool Aid?
I love my country, but the combination of free enterprise, freedom of speech, and outright lying your ass off can result in complete chaos. Two Kool Aid drinking examples:
In the United States, turn on your television at any time between midnight and 6:00am, select any obscure network, and enjoy the latest gadget or program that will give you six-pack abs, massive weight loss, or a slimmer look (via some garment that compresses your fat under your clothing). These items come and go because they sell until proven ineffective, then another one arises, sells, and dies, and the cycle continues. Are you one of the gullible people buying these items?
Overweight Joe/Jane Schmoe wants to lose some weight and get fit. Instead of shoring up his or her diet, beginning a safe and sensible strength training program, and being more active throughout each day, he or she joins a program performing dangerous joint-compromising exercises, advanced training protocols, and extreme diet modifications. You don't need to do this. Stick with the proven methods and the safe science that supports them.
It is admirable if you undertake any training program to either improve your ability to compete as an athlete or simply improve your health. Just make sure you are doing the proper things to achieve your goals. Be smart and vigilant.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.