In today’s society, we are encouraged to push through the struggles, often times at all costs.
In the training industry, we see this on a regular. It is all about “Go hard, or go home”, “Sweat is just weakness leaving your body” and clichés way worse than these. Training hard is important to achieve your desired results, but more importantly is to know when to train hard.
Your typical 40-year old man, working all day in an office, stressing to pick up his kids from school and trying to find time for his beloved spouse. Who for some reason still thinks he is a 22-year old athlete – training at a 100 %, 5 days a week. This might work out for him for a while, but after some time he will experience periods of stagnation, difficulties to recover, aches and pains, sickness and injuries.
There are several reasons as to why this could happen.
For one, he has so many stress factors in his life and pushing hard in the gym every day is eventually gone catch up to him. Secondly, he is not eating properly, not getting enough quality sleep and not spending the adequate time on mobility and recovery.
After over 10 years training 5+ times a week, going through several periods of injury and sickness, I have myself come to realize that you should train based on feel. As a young man, it is easy to think; “Oh, I´ll be fine”. And for a long time, you probably will. But it comes to a point where your body says no. It is all about being aware of the signals your body is sending, and LISTENING to them.
The human body is amazing and can achieve unbelievable results, but it is not a machine. It needs time to recover. You can´t drive nonstop – the car needs gas or electricity to function. The same principles apply for your body, you needtime to slow down and “fill up your tank”.
Yin / Yang:
“Two halves that together complete wholeness. Both halves are chasing after each other as they seek a new balance with each other.”
I always have a set amount of sessions I want to complete within a training week, but I approach the sessions based on how I feel that day. Some days I might be feeling like a million bucks, ready to crush it. And on those days, you should push hard and get the maximum out of your workout!
This is what I call a “Yang Day” – meaning that you go “outwards”.
On the other end of the spectrum I might be feeling like shit two days later. Sleep deprived, dehydrated, stiff and sore. This would be what I consider a “Yin Day”.
On a “Yin Day” I would for instance prioritize taking a 20-min nap, do some mobility or breathing exercises, write in my journal and go for a long walk outside. These days I look at going “inwards”, listening to what my body and mind needs/wants to come back to full capacity. You could still go to the gym on a Yin Day, but try to hold back 20 % from your usual effort or even just spend some time on a rower or bike at an easy pace.
One of my favorite quotes is from Thanos from the Avengers;
“Perfectly balanced, as all things should be”.
And I truly believe that this is a great way to live your life.
Understanding that there are both times where you push, and times where you hold back.
Realizing that life is not about pushing, but rather about balancing.
I am now all about training smart and not necessarily hard.
– Coach Markus