Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Way You Train is Not "Insane" Part #2

Be sure to read Part 1

There are some after-exercise reactions that seem to have achieved band-wagon status. What I mean is that people see real intense efforts from high-level or truly dedicated athletes and try to copy their mannerisms thinking that they will then be a ‘part-of’ or their ‘acting’ will validate their effort even though no real maximum capacity effort was made. 

The example I’ll use here is collapsing into a heap right after a work-out and rolling around in apparent agony.  If you’ve done a training session or challenge and have given every ounce of effort, focus and energy you’ve got, then by all means, please fall down and roll around on the floor if you would like.  In reality, and if some of these band-wagon folks were completely honest with themselves, they’d have to admit that though their minds are saying “Man you really worked out to the max here today, nice job” that their bodies are saying another thing “You know you had 10 more reps left in the tank there pal, why didn’t you go for it?” 
Learning to Push Past What the Mind Says is Possible

The thing is with high-intensity or CrossFit-style training challenges, our minds are the first thing that wants to ‘give-up’.  That’s one of the benefits of strength/weight/metabolic training: learning how to push through what the mind says, to access every last nugget of effort from the body.  If an athlete has a humble attitude they quickly realize the folly of their actions and stop the charade of ‘look at me’ after a work-out and start to put in some real physical effort during their next gym visits.  Eventually they may have a real physical reaction after training due to their true max effort, or they may just be really tired and winded.  Either way they are inwardly satisfied with the effort, knowing it was all they had to give that day and are actually going to progress due to the training.  Unfortunately this kind of training reaction doesn’t have a lot of flashy advertising value. 
The Kind of Real Reaction to Training I Like to See - Gold Medals and Smiles!

If the exercise participant doesn’t ever get past the ‘image satisfaction’ level, they’ll continue to give sub-maximal efforts and usually look for ‘applause’ for their after-training acting from their training partners.  It’s a lot like when an athlete flops to draw a foul in basketball or hockey.  Kind of makes you sick in your stomach to watch.  You'll recognize many incarnations of this person: the "make-weird-loud-noises-for-no-good-reason-while-lifting" guy - the "drop-the-weights-so-you-can-hear-how-heavy-the-weight-I-lifted-was" guy - the "put-too-much-weight-on-the-bar-and-only-do-partial-reps-then-celebrate-about-it" guy, the list could go on and on.  These folks tend to group together after a while and support each other’s image of performing their version of  ‘elite’ training.  I’m sure you’ve overheard one of their conversations where they’ve been bragging about doing 200 push-press reps to start the last wod, of course leaving out the fact that they were using 2# dumbells.  There’s nothing more enjoyable (some subtle sarcasm here) than listening to someone talk big about efforts or standards achieved that aren’t really notable or ‘elite’, especially when their gym accomplishment has no relevance or transfer to real-life sports activities.

For a great example of the humble attitude and reaction to maximum effort I’ve described that many athletes eventually develop, watch this video from the 2013 CrossFit Regional Qualifiers:

The event winner, Rich Froning, sets a new record for the challenge and then, instead of the old ‘collapse in a heap’ routine, turns around and encourages the 2nd place finisher (and remaining competitors) to continue their efforts (eventually all event competitors do the same with the last athlete standing).  My guess is Rich and most of his fellow athletes have spent more time lifting weights vs. trying to look like they’ve just lifted some weights.  I also didn’t see them standing around after and talking about how awesome they were for attempting the competition challenge.  It seems to me that the more effort you put into a given exercise routine or specific training challenge, the less energy you have to talk smack about it and boast how great you are after.

Part #3 coming soon....

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