Thriving or Surviving

In your daily workouts/training, which one are you?  Thriving is where you should be, surviving I’d argue, not so much.

There are three different ways I tend to see people just surviving their training.  If these describe your workouts, you might be able to do better:

First, choosing exercises that are simply too difficult for their current strength level.  I don’t mean too heavy but simply too complicated.  For example, not everyone can do full push ups on the floor.  That’s ok.  You are no less of a person.  If attempting to do so results in partial reps with the head and neck jutting forward, then full push ups on the ground is simply too hard right now.  Another example would be attempting to step back and forth in a lunge when the balance and ability to get the knee to the floor just simply isn’t there.  In both instances there are better alternatives to simply fighting through and surviving the exercise.

Second, too much load.  Understandably people want to work hard and get strong.  Hell, you’re at the gym already, we aren’t here to just take it easy.  However, training to thrive and consistently get all of your reps, as well as complete them with high quality is a better long term plan for success.  Surviving heavy workouts day in and day out cannot continue to happen over the long term.  There needs to be some easier days, or even some weeks where you take your foot off of the gas pedal.  If not, eventually you’ll stop surviving and end up hurt or with a decline in performance.

Finally there’s simply trying to do too many of a given something.  Sets with a high number of reps can be fine as long as they all look the same.  If you have a predetermined number to perform don’t let the last few get ugly and simply survive what you sought out to do.  Keep it reasonable.  Cut the set short if needed to maintain optimal form versus being emotionally attached to X reps.  The same goes for conditioning or cardio as some call it.  Wearing a heart rate monitor can keep you honest with your ability to recover but simply doing a ton of work to do a ton of work can result in simply surviving again as opposed to thriving and making yourself more efficient which tends to be the goal for most.

What does thriving look/feel like? High quality reps that don’t look drastically different as a set progresses.  Feeling better when you leave the gym than when you walked in and the ability to train often without feeling sore and beat up. 

  • Mike Baltren