“Go hard or go home!” If you are a keen exerciser then you’ve heard this phrase a million times and the obvious answer to getting fitter and stronger is easy, go hard, right? Well, maybe it’s not so obvious.
Common exercise advice rightly suggests that our body reacts well to being shocked, it helps it get to a higher performance level, and avoids the dreaded performance plateau. So the common held belief is that when you workout you should give it everything you have, every time. Rest days are for wimps. If this is your modus operandi then please read on, because you’re probably guilty of what I call “Dumb Training”.
The obsession with lifting as heavy as you can and running as hard as you can every time is cultivating a new form of performance plateau. A plateau that makes you feel like you are performing at your best every time, but actually isn’t making you any faster, any stronger and is probably leading to a variety of recurring injuries. If this sounds familiar then you need to re-evaluate your fitness regime. Sometimes “go home” is the right answer.
To highlight why you shouldn’t be ‘going hard’ all of the time we should look to those at the pinnacle of sports performance. Usain Bolt does not sprint 9.58 sec 100m’s every day, Mo Farah does not run sub 27 min 10,000 meter’s every day. They save that for competition days, when it matters, when they need it.
Thierry Henry, one of the most explosive soccer players the world has ever seen has said that he rarely sprinted at full speed in training. He believed that his body had a limited number of top speed sprints in a given week, so he didn’t waste them, he saved them, for competition time, when it mattered, when he needed it.
This doesn’t mean that they are lazy, that they are slacking. It means that they are training clever. They are avoiding burning out, allowing themselves the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. If Usain Bolt aimed to beat his 9.58 sec 100m record every day he would fail, repeatedly! He may get close but eventually, as he kept training he would find a level where his body will only allow him to reach maybe 9.8 or 9.9secs consistently. He’ll be giving it 100% every day, but he won’t even be in the photo when the winner crosses the finish line. This is the “Dumb Training Plateau”. The point where you are trying your hardest and without realising it, allowing fatigue to limit your peak performance capabilities.
Instead, someone like Usain Bolt will aim to break down his training, he’ll focus on his technique, at a lower speed, working on the component parts of his stride and his arm movement, building his endurance. His explosive speed work will be focused on shorter distances, his high intensity training will be limited to specific periods of his training week. When the time comes he’ll put all of the pieces together, he’ll deliver, he’ll be ready.
Fluctuating your training resistance is important for your body. Adding lower resistance training days will allow your higher intensity days to be more effective. It will enable your energy systems to replenish. Your body can not continue to perform at it’s maximum without giving it the opportunity to replenish your energy stores.
‘Dumb Training’ Plateau
Toning down the intensity will enable you to reach your peak performance level, but remember, you can’t reach it every day, nobody can. Fitness and performance should sneak up on you. Performance gains come from training optimally, not maximally. Fitness and performance really refers to a set of complex biological processes that can’t be rushed
The next time somebody suggests you “go hard or go home”, take a second to consider the benefits of going home. Train clever.
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