Body Function Before Appearance
I love this. It's simple and most important to remember every day you step into the gym. Why are you going to the gym? In general, looking good and feeling healthy is the biggest goal we hear. What does that mean to you and to your gym routine?
For some it means going harder and heavier to "beat up" the body to try and expedite results. Some it's chasing new personal records (PR). Great examples and all have a purpose as long as we are focusing on PURPOSEFUL movements that IMPROVE our DAILY life. How many of us are trying to push it so hard in the gym to "look good" that it's causing more issues in our long term health?
If your gym routines are seriously beating you up and most of your day is spent trying to recover what value is it bringing to your life. Sure you might fit into your pre-COVID pants but your joints and muscles are screaming at you. I don't find this to be healthy or bring much happiness to me personally. Heavy and hard day in and day out is not the answer.
Did you hit a PR on your deadlift but said "it was ugly, but I got it"? Are you trying to compete with someone by loading the same weight as them so you can win for the day? What is that doing to your body? A rule I live by is 85/10/5.
85% of the time you should be working under 85% of your max effort.
10% of the time you should be working at 85% of your max capacity.
5% of the time you should be working above 85% max capacity.
For some athletes they can push far beyond these limits for a length of time but it does catch up. That's why NFL players don't last long. This is why it's hard to be a professional athlete. You have to be able to move efficiently AND have a high pain tolerance because it does catch up, sometimes it's one or the other. Boxers deal with brain bruises, weightlifters deal with joint degeneration, and runners deal with degenerative knees. If it's your job to be an athlete, then go for it. If not, start thinking about your purpose and respect any pain or unnatural feelings when you workout. Trust me, your pain isn't helping your overall healthy appearance. Discomfort is okay, pain is not.
When I first started programming CrossFit it was in the military around 2010. A couple buddies and I would create the most brutal workouts for 40 minutes or longer. We would be destroyed every day. I look back and laugh now. Little did I know about the impact it had on my central nervous system and how my body would never recover from those workouts. After a couple years we all decided to change our programming with more education on the 85/10/5 rule. All of a sudden our results were improving and our ability to be effective throughout the day drastically increased. PR's improved, run times were faster, etc.
So take a look at what you are doing in the gym. Maybe your knee doesn't have to touch the ground in the lunge. You probably feel that pain on the outside of the thigh or your back when you squeeze out those last two inches to the ground. Do you really need 10 pounds more on the bar because Kyle is doing that weight even though your shoulder is nagging you?
In our classes we provide a stimulus for our clients. If a workout has 10 reps of a movement for 5 rounds we DON'T give a weight. We will say things like, "You should be able to do all 10 reps each round without resting." Another example would be, "The weight should be heavy enough that you have to take a rest between the 10 reps but not so heavy you can only do 2 reps at a time."
The purpose is to think about your limits and not just looking over at your neighbor to see what weight they are using. Just because it is lighter doesn't make it easier. It's safer on the joints and your range of motion will be more efficient. This means a faster recovery and more time enjoying the day, rather than hobbling in pain.
When we focus on purposeful movements and feel them we turn on more muscles. more muscles working means more muscles toning. You see where I'm going with this. The more focus you put on feeling the muscles do the work, the better your body will look.
So think about the muscles you are supposed to be using and try to use them. Your will find a new purpose in the gym with better results. At the same time, friendly competition is great! I'm a firm believer in pushing limits, but pushing them 5% of the time. The rest should be spent building the movements to allow you to truly maximize your potential when the time comes.
Build your foundation to be strong and start with your feet! Check out our previous blog to learn more about how you shoes impact your movement.
Subscribe to our High Order Podcast. We are back at it with a stockpile of episodes dropping soon. Listen to our past episodes to catch up. Here is one on pushing our limits to go along with this blog including a longer discussion on the 85/10/5 rule.