Max effort! Give it your all! Train insane or remain the same!

These are the calls of the hard-core fitness fanatics. They are suggesting that if you aren’t on the floor dying after every workout or so sore the next day that you can’t move without pain then you didn’t really workout hard enough. While training hard is important to forcing our bodies to change it is also a fine line between getting better and actually making you worse.

The less sexy truth about performance change is that it takes time and requires consistency. If you are training at 110% all of the time it is very likely you’ll run into a few roadblocks, such as; central nervous system fatigue (overtraining), decreased performance, zero motivation and injuries.

Goldie locks
The story of Goldie Locks is possibly the best analogy for strength and conditioning training. Too much (too hot) is not good and can lead to overtraining and injury, too little (too cold) won’t be enough of a stimulus to force the body to adapt and change which may also increase your risk of injury and just be wasting your time, just right (perfect eating temperature) is a balance of hard enough training to make improvements but not so hard that you cook yourself.

There’s a time and a place.
Don’t get me wrong there are definitely times when you can open up and really go for it, but it has a time and a place in the overall program. That time and place is either in a performance testing week or a competition/game/match. If you’ve just completed a solid training block or you’ve been preparing for a competition, you’re really preparing to see what you can really do, this is when you can go balls to the wall and test yourself! However, these shouldn’t happen more than 3-4 times per year. If you’re giving it a real crack, then your body needs to recover from your performance, and you need enough time to train to get better. Remember maxing out isn’t training to get better, it’s measuring where you are currently at, once you’ve got your results it’s time to start planning on how to get better.

Two in the tank
Trying to do your 1 rep max in every training session is not going to make your stronger, all it will do is cook your body, reduce performance, and put yourself at a higher risk of injury. The same is true even when you’re taking each and every rep to failure (yes you too Mr/Mrs body builder).

This is where the concept of ‘Two in the Tank’ comes in. What this means is that for any exercise (including sprinting and conditioning) you want to push the set hard but stop it two reps short of complete failure. This still requires a strong mindset and pushing yourself but only right to the edge of the cliff not over it. What this allows you to do is train hard enough to get better without trashing yourself therefore giving you the ability to train more often and for a longer period of time. This is a win-win improved performance, longevity and reduced risk of injury! Sounds good to me 🙂