Intelligent Training

15 Oct

Or learn from what you do right and not what you do wrong

I will be 44 next birthday, I know it’s hard to believe.  I have been training since I was a teenager.  I can still remember when my Dad gave me a load of body building magazines. They had old black and white photos of people like Reg Park. I was fascinated and read endless articles about drinking gallons of milk, eating kilos of steak along with dozens of eggs.  In fact it got me started on eating eggs again as I had grown to hate them, after being made to drink them raw in a glass of milk as a child. That story is a whole other blog!  But I was inspired to pick up my Dads Bullworker and start squeezing and pulling and doing press ups.

On reflection what did I achieve? Well I got very good at press ups, did I become another Arnie? No, in short I did not.  But I did not give up and soon saved up for my first weight set from Argos. Buying it in the store I never contemplated how hard 55 kilos of discs and a 10kg bar would be to carry on my own. I could not have been much more than 15 at the time. It was akin to a horrible WOD I would program today.

Well the months and years went by and still no 23 inch biceps more like a 23 inch waist. So what was going wrong?  Looking back not much really, I did get frustrated but eventually became resigned to my body shape. Soon this was to be to my advantage when I took up running and climbing.  But as I have become a lot older and a little wiser I have learnt some fundamentals about training.

To affect changes you need a number of essential ingredients.

  1. Train hard, I mean really hard. No harder than that, like your life depends on it!
  2. Rest, get plenty, you will need more than you think you do. Listen to your body.
  3. Nutrition, eat right, eat plenty, find what works for you. We are all different. There is no one size fits all.
  4. Genetics.  Work with what nature gave you. I know now I will never be Tom Platz not without some sort of substance abuse.

These four rules will affect changes in you.  In fact rule number four leads on to the other side of Intelligent Training, realistic expectations. People say to me shall I try this diet?  I say no, just change what you eat permanently.  If you make changes for life you will make life changing, er, changes. Diet is from the Greek, meaning way of life, not 14 day bikini blitz! I also get asked about gold standards in Crossfit. These are talked about a lot in the forums and there are some real great stories of achievement.  Forty strict pull ups, dead lifting three times your body weight, ten strict muscle ups, all excellent and inspiring. But be realistic, can everyone achieve these? No. To believe this will only lead to frustration and disappointment.  I watch people piling on the plates for a big squat, only to see some sort of wobbly half or even quarter squat. This is not smart, this is training with your ego.

To enhance your diet

The other common error is hundreds of pounds spent by individuals on supplements.  The dictionary defines a supplement as Something added to complete a thing, make up for a deficiency, or extend or strengthen the whole. But people all too commonly treat them as replacements. The dictionary defines this as The act or process of replacing or of being replaced; substitution. This can often be a significant indicator of a lazy trainer or someone simply not aware.

Not to be replaced
  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Attainable
  • R = Relevant
  • T = Timely

When you are training think about the bullet points above. They will keep you on track. Ask what needs improving and why, focus on this point do not look to overload yourself with goals. Set out a planned schedule and monitor analyse and record it. In my strength cycles I am always looking for improvements that I believe to be achievable, I used to apply this to my racing as well.  It keeps you positive and motivated. Do I need 23 inch biceps? Probably not, do I need to be able to haul myself over a garden wall when chasing a suspect, yes I do. The last point is where a lot of people come unstuck.  You will often hear Andrew talk about some people have a three year journey towards a perfect squat, well I am one of those, it has not stopped me drilling my squat technique.  Why, because I am employing my IT skills. Intelligent training.

2 thoughts on “Intelligent Training

  1. Great article Colin! I think your point on realistic expectations is a really good one, it’s easy to overload with internet info and start shooting for the moon rather than working on the basics.

  2. Great post Col, love the picture of the bullworker! I agree with your views on the gold standards however I’ve been ticking off the standards for an intermediate athlete (see link below), I found that this gave me an increased focus on what needed worked on, I’m a great believer in it’s better to work on your weaknesses than continually work at strengths something that’s been highlighted recently with the realization that all the ‘big back squat boys’ are crap at overhead squats! Anyways have a look at the link and let me know what you all think!
    http://www.crossfitseattle.com/athletic_skill.html

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