Always Be Training

When it comes to fitness, strength and health it’s not always easy to keep things going. It’s pretty simple, but rarely has anyone said that it’s easy.  There are always excuses that you can make.  However, the truth is, short of a few extreme examples, you should always keep “training”.  Let me specify that “training” is relative to each person.  Here are a few examples:

In my almost 14 years of coaching I have worked with several ladies during pregnancy.  Some for several months and others for the duration.  I won’t pretend to know what that feels like but I what I do know is that these ladies kept showing up and getting it done.  Were things modified and changed on the fly some days? Absolutely.  Did they perform at the same level as before? No, but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that several days a week they made it in to train the best they could.

We’re all merely humans and life happens sometimes.  By that I mean injuries.  Ideally not in the gym as the goal is to make people better, not break them. But sometimes you break a toe, or a finger, or your daughter cut you off while riding bikes and you took a spill.  These things happen if you get out of the house every now and again but they don’t mean you should stop training. What you should do is focus on all of the things that you can do.  In my experience there are always many of them. Consider two important points: First that there is some neurological carryover to the injured or unused body parts.  Whether it’s nervous system activation or simply blood flow, good things are happening throughout the entire system when you train, even if you have a bum limb.  The other important point is, and I believe I first heard this from Mike Boyle, if you have a broken wrist for example, you certainly don’t want to end up with two weak arms.  Train the other side!  No, you won’t end up like a freak with one giant arm and one puny one.  When healthy again, the weaker side will have no choice but to catch up.  I once had a stress fracture in my shoulder.  I did bottom up presses and rows on the good side while training all of the legs I could get away with. If it hurts don’t do it.  If it doesn’t hurt, train it.

Having both a career and a personal life are rather important in my opinion and understandably those things can take away from your ability to train 3 hours a day 7 days a week like your “friends” on the internet do.  But more seriously, I was recently on vacation without gym access for several days.  Eventually I landed in a hotel with a gym of sorts.  Basically I did a bunch of randomness like push ups, plank rows, machine rows, goblet squats, cable single leg deadlifts and bunch of other “stuff” making sure I covered the 4 main pushing and pulling movements.  End result: I felt soooo much better for having moved around in many different directions and through some full ranges of motion that my body had essentially not seen in a few days.  I’ve worked with a guy who travels for work and stay at hotels on the regular.  And, to his credit he always trains.  It may or not be as effective as a day spent with me, but the long term benefit sure is.  No excuses, just results.

I “train” typically 5 days a week.  For quite a while now (about a year and half) I’ve made it a point to take a long walk on Sundays.  I don’t lift weights on Sundays but I’m sure to move, get blood flowing and make it part of my regular program.  In no way is it physically demanding but it does make my mind and body feel better.  That’s how I “train” on Sundays.

I think perhaps most important in all of this is the understanding that one must continue to move. I recently saw an article in the New York Times called “Closest Thing to a Wonder Drug? Try Exercise.  It’s a quick and easy read but cites many studies showing that movement or exercise as some call it, rule all.  Regardless of your situation, just keep moving.  It will help.

As Woody Allen said, “90% of success is just showing up.”  Regardless of your situation, you should “train”.  It may mean different things for different people but there is always something that you can be doing.

– Mike Baltren