With anything you do, you have to be able to answer one question. That question is WHY. Why am I doing what I’m doing? You could apply this question to every aspect of your life. Why am I in my profession? Why am I eating this food in front of me? Why am I drinking this drink? You need to be able to easily and logically answer these questions. If you have any doubt as to why you are doing whatever it is you are doing; if you can’t answer that very simple question, you probably shouldn’t do it. It’s really that simple.
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll apply this question to fitness. Why are you doing what you are doing? Why do you lift weights? Why do you do cross-fit? Why do you run? Answering this question might take a little bit longer than you think. I want you to really go deep on this one and figure out why it is you are doing what you are doing. Once you have that answer, the next question you have to ask yourself is: Am I enjoying what I am doing? People ask me all the time about doing extra “cardio” when they are not doing workouts at our facility. The first question I ask them is “do you enjoy it?” I don’t have a statistic for you, but more often times than not, the answer is, “well, not really.” Find something that you enjoy doing, alongside great people with similar goals.
So, now you know why you are doing what you are doing, and you know that you are enjoying it (or not enjoying it). Now you have to ask yourself, “Does (what you are doing) get me the results I am looking for? The results should coincide with the answer you came up with for why you are doing what you are doing. From a fitness standpoint, a quality training program should do, at minimum, three important things. Let’s call these the “big three” and please note that I did not call them the “only three.” It should help you (1) build muscle, (2) burn fat and (3) help you feel better. If you are not going three-for-three here with your program, you should consider making a change. If you need help figuring that out, feel free to send me a message or leave a comment, but for this blog I want to spend some time talking about the “feel better” part of the big three, because I think a lot of people have this part screwed up.
I think most people have this part screwed up because it is the least exciting. It might be the least exciting, but it is definitely the most important (weird how that seems to work with everything). First of all, if you aren’t moving well, you will not get even close to the results you would get if you were moving well. Most importantly, if you aren’t moving well, you are most likely going to get hurt. If you get hurt, you won’t be able to move at all. You might heal in a few weeks or months, but think about the long-term damage you are doing to yourself. Do you want to be active when you are 70, 80 or even 90 years old, or do you want to be wheeled around in a wheel chair? You might laugh now, but it won’t be as funny when you aren’t able to play with your grandkids. These are things you need to be thinking about right now.
What amazes me are the training programs people are on that actually cause them pain. I’ve heard people talking about their injuries from training like they were proud of them. I just don’t get it. A training program should help reduce the chance of injury, not cause them. To quote Mike Boyle (Strength Coach for the Women’s Olympic Hockey team, Boston Red Sox and hundreds of other professional athletes), “Getting hurt while on a program that is supposed to reduce the chance of you getting hurt is as stupid as it sounds.” People are finishing their workouts with bloody shins, torn up hands and seem to believe pain and or complete exhaustion is the measure of a quality workout. Is that “insane” “intense” workout really worth your long-term health? We’ve got this one wrong, and for some reason it is the popular “fad” at the moment.
Now don’t take this the wrong way, I am all about training hard. You could ask any one of our members this question, and I promise they will not dis-agree. However, what is more important than how hard you work, or how tired you get is how well you are performing each movement. Remember, we need to be thinking long-term health and activity, not about showing off “battle wounds” from your training program.
It is my hope that after reading this blog, you do some thinking in terms of whether or not your training program is helping you accomplish your goals, while at the same time preparing your body for a lifetime of quality movement and activity. I don’t think there is a more powerful “why” than being able to spend more time doing activities with your family, kids or grand kids. If you take the time to do this, your future self will thank you.
Cheers to a long active life!
-Steve Hlavac, CSCS