Consider how many “Monday Motivation” posts exists in the fitness inspiration space these days. It seems like everyone is sharing something to get you hyped to go #beastmode, and thanks to the art of alliteration, it’s always on a Monday. What a damn shame.
I’m all for getting after it when training, and I admit that if you made me choose between going hard and not exercising at all, I’d probably pick the opportunity to really push myself. That being said, there’s room for more moderation in this fitness community. There’s room for us to slow down without stopping, and to speed up without breaking ourselves. There’s space between “go hard” and “go home.”
Above is an example of a pretty extreme physique, to match the intensity of the phrase “Go hard or go home.” While bodybuilding bro-culture persists, there’s a place for smarts and sensibility in training, without pushing the extremes.
Having trained with intensity in my powerlifting days, I know what it’s like to get under a bar and grind through reps. It wasn’t as extreme as a superheavyweight powerlifter or bodybuilder, but it was pretty extreme for me:
Exercise doesn’t have to be as painful or as challenging as many of us like to make it, but we easily get caught in the trap of thinking that it’s all or nothing. Recently, I’ve been using a simple mantra to guide Ninjas and clients to moderation:
Will you live to train another day?
If you can finish a workout knowing that you’ll be able to workout the next day, you’re on the path to moderation. If you finish a workout and you’re already canceling or modifying the next one, you may have trained too aggressively. That’s great on occasion, but doing it all the time sets you up for failure.
Last week I wrote an article for the MFF Blog that addresses one of our key lessons to “run your own race.” This phrase is a foundation of the lessons we share, and it means that everyone should train at the intensity that feels most appropriate to them. Over the course of multiple workouts, that means that we’re often training at differing intensities. It’s easier to treat every workout as a chance to go hard, but slowing down is just as important. Check out that article here:
Figuring out an appropriate balance of intense versus moderate exercise can be a difficult endeavor, and it’s not something I’m immune to as a coach. I’ve been working with physical therapist Kyle Balzer on some back pain that came up while bike riding. Kyle fixed me right up, gave me some homework, and shared advice that basically came down to, “Don’t do stupid shit.”
“Don’t do stupid shit” is the medical advice of one of the best PT’s in New York City, and it’s completely legitimate advice. Rather than putting arbitrary limitations on what I can do, Kyle left the role of moderator in my hands. That’s simple and straight forward, but scary at the same time.
I took that advice with me yesterday morning, as I headed to the woods for a bike ride and a chance to remember my dad on Father’s Day.
Based on how I like to ride my bike on the weekends, this ride was 0% of an accomplishment. Zero percent. Based on Kyle’s advice, and my own physical feeling, it was awesome. The goal was riding comfortably without back pain, and making sure that I’d still be fresh enough to move, work, and exercise the next day. After I warmed up, I made it a solid 45 minutes before I began to fatigue, and I pulled over to rest and stretch. 20 more minutes of riding before the next break. 15 minutes after that. I could sense this trend, so it was back to the car, then back home.
Sure, I was slower than I’d like to be, I didn’t ride nearly as long or as far as I’d prefer, and I had to take a few breaks along the way for sections of trail I clear all the time. But, that wasn’t the point.
The point was to go out and have a good time in the woods, and that I did. Here’s a super official looking stress-o-meter to give weight to this point:
“Everything in moderation” is a tired cliche, but not in fitness. We regularly spend one day going too hard, and the next day not going at all. This afternoon I’m going to spend an hour recovering from yesterday’s ride, and honoring my body with a workout that will help me feel better for the next one.
Sometimes we need to find a balance in moderation. That might mean, “Don’t do stupid shit.” It could be “Live to train another day.” Perhaps you’d like specific action steps for exercise that’s regenerative, and you can find those in my MFF article here: 3 Ways to Reduce Stress and Improve Recovery During Your Next Workout
Consider your Monday Motivation as moderation, and take care of yourself. If you need more guidance, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to help!