Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hard Work, Part II

Intensity, hard work, and your intestinal fortitude are often lumped together.

It's common in the gym, talking with friends and colleagues, and extremely common on internet forums, for people to equate how hard, how long, and how intensely you work with your courage. That's work as in "work out" or train, or work as in "put in hours on the job."

It's rarely tied to results.

If you work really hard and get good results, well, that's what hard work does.

If you work really hard and get poor results, well, at least you are trying hard. ...maybe you should try harder next time?

If you work not-so-hard or even not hard at all and get good results, imagine what results you'd get if you worked harder?

If you work not-so-hard or even not hard at all and get poor results, you got what you deserved.

What's missing here is an assessment that you work at an appropriate level for the results you need, or that extra work might not gain you more results. The guy who puts in 10-12 hour days at work, even if he's only getting 6 hours worth of results, is held in a higher esteem than the guy who put in 6 hours of work and got 6 hours worth of results. Put that in concrete terms to demonstrate the latter worker's efficiency and someone will suggest he work 12 hours and get double the results!

You see this in the gym, too. People measure attendance and frequency and time more than their results. Sometimes in strength and conditioning training, you can work out for an hour and get improve, or work out for two hours and regress. You could work hard every single training day and improve for a while and then crash, injured and exhausted. There is a reason for periodization in training - cycling of intensity. Some days you work very hard, some days you work not so hard, some days you don't work at all. In the right combination, they lead further than working hard all the time.

What's the lesson here? The lesson is, work as hard as you need to in order to achieve your best possible results. There is a judo term that's commonly translated as "Strive for the maximum effect with minimum effort." Or as I put it on my training log - "Get the maximum possible results with the minimum work required to get them."

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