I’m writing this for those of us and for those clients of ours that believe you’ve always got to give 100% every workout or you’re not getting anything out of it. BULLSHIT!! I’ve been lifting weights for almost 40 years. I started off as a wrestler so I had a mental toughness that comes with that particular sport. I then transitioned into bodybuilding, though not competitively because I didn’t have the genetics and I didn’t want to go down the steroid route. I also started competing in powerlifting. The good thing about having mental toughness is that you’re able to push yourself past your comfort zone. I loved going into that dark place that was pure pain and agony because I knew that it translated into a muscular and well defined physique and even more mental toughness. The bad thing about mental toughness can be not knowing when to back off. When I started competing in powerlifting I realized I couldn’t workout hard and heavy all of the time and be successful. I had to learn how to peak at a predetermined date and time. I had to start cycling my training. Because let’s face it, when you don’t have something to train for and you train at 100% all of the time your workouts are going to suffer and you don’t know when that will be. Your 100% isn’t going to be the 100% it could be. It wasn’t until I was able to strategically hold back in workouts that I started to see real gains in strength, size, energy, and an overall fitness level.
For some of us, (type A personalities) the discipline is to NOT workout hard. Or taking a day or even a week off. Recuperation is just as important as hard training. If we’re not recuperating from our workouts, we’re digging ourselves into a hole that’s hard to get out of. I would even say that this could be defined as addiction. The discipline for me and people like me is to not train hard on some days. For me THAT was the discipline. We must keep the balance of hard training and recuperation. When I was first able to take a week off, I was scared at first. I thought I’d shrink and lose my hard earned strength and size. This of course, was neurotic. After I made it through the first few days I noticed that I grew, and that my definition improved dramatically too. I also realized I had been mentally tired and after the week off my brain started firing and I was thinking of all kinds of new and imaginative ways to work out. When I got back into the gym I had so much energy and my body responded so well because it was well rested. I realized I had been in a rut.
For the clients I have that are type A and always want to be pushed hard even when they’re tired and not improving, I sell them on the idea that for them, it takes discipline to not workout hard or to take the day or a week off. I emphasize that by holding back or taking a day off, they’re setting themselves up for really hard workouts down the line. I challenge them to take it as a challenge. Type A’s always want to be challenged. We all want to make money as trainers and suggesting to a client that it would be good for them to take a week off may be hard, but in the end they’ll respect you for looking out for their long term wellbeing and improving their fitness level. They’ll also trust you and, in turn, they’ll probably be a long term client.
So to be in the best shape possible and to get your clients in the best possible shape they can be in, learn how to hold back and take a day or week off periodically. Believe me, you and your clients will last longer and be in much better shape in the long term.