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Saturday, 26 May 2018

Training is a treadmill

By Pete Ryan

I believe that exercise has a good analogy with the person on the treadmill. If you slowly walk forward, you stay about the same, if you stop, you are going backwards. To move forward you have to run! It takes some effort to actually stay still, let alone move forward.

I believe training is the same (once you reach adulthood). As a trainee if you plod along, doing the same old pace, you will achieve the same old results.  You have seen the people in the gym who look the same after months or years doing the same things.  They often have ridged, set routines and do not focus on goals or plan their training. Let’s look at some ways you can plan your yearly training cycles.  First off a lot will depend on what you do and your goals, some people may need to lose weight, some may need to add muscle, others may use exercise to improve a sporting or leisure activity? So, your first chore has to be to decide why you want to exercise, what is the end goal?
After you have the final goal, the next is to break up your training into mesa cycles throughout the year.  If you want to look buff, you might want to break the year into 3 or 4 mesa cycles.  This will include a strength cycle, a hypertrophy cycle, a conditioning cycle and a peaking cycle (usually the peaking cycle will be just before summer, so you look your best topless on the beach).  If you are someone into a sport, you split it into off-season exercise, pre-season exercise and during the season exercise. These will probably be strength focused off-season, adding in conditioning as the season approaches and then minimal workouts to hold strength during the season (depending on the sport). Strength athletes like powerlifters or weightlifters will focus on specificity, so they will have more non-specific exercise during the off-season, then focus on their actual sport more and more as the contest approaches, then a peaking cycle leading into the contest.  This does not mean not doing the lifts off-season, but it does allow for doing variations, conditioning and other exercises to be included.

Now we have an idea of what we want to do, we now need to find ways to really push forward. A lot depends on your goals, but if you are looking at 100 pound weight loss, set intermediate goals. Celebrate every pound lost, buy yourself something nice when you lose 5 pounds.  Learn to enjoy the process, the goal is always anti-climatic, but enjoying the process continues as long as you are doing it! If you want to lift 100 pounds, but you are only lifting 50 pounds, lifting 51 pounds may not seem like much, but it is that step closer to the 100 pounds you want to get, so celebrate that. A PR (personal record) of 1 pound is as valid as a 50 pound PR, enjoy the moment. To go back to the treadmill analogy, every little PR, whether it is an extra rep, an extra pound or doing something with a few seconds less rest is just upping that pace on the treadmill a little, you started jogging instead of walking.  The only sprinters in this analogy are people new to training (or possibly people who begin taking anabolic steroids).  Those are the 2 times a person would be sprinting in this allegory, the rest of us will be walking, jogging or stopped. Throughout life we will go through times of each, will have times we move forward, times we ‘go through the motions’ and times of injury or distraction where we regress. Our goal must be to maximise the times we move forward and minimise the times we regress. You can do this by finding things you really enjoy doing, that way you will be keen to actually do the work, secondly set short term goals, so you will actually move forward slowly and not stagnate.

The final point to remember is that this is a process, so there may be goals along the way, but there is never a finish line, every goal is just a stepping stone to the next challenge, never be satisfied and never stop striving!

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