Since the gyms reopened in England, I’ve decided to set myself a new challenge. It’s one of the toughest challenges I’ve set myself in a long time. No, it’s not to push more weight, lose, or even gain weight. The specific challenge I’ve set myself is to do less. The goal is to spend less training days and time at the gym. I’m still adding more short morning running and yoga sessions to my routine, but will be spending less time intensely training at the gym. It would seem like a simple challenge really to most people, but it’s a tough one for me.
One of the hardest things for me to do is to take proper rest days. I know its importance. I know that recovery is essential for the body and growth. But I still always find it difficult. I’ve decided, however, to take this opportunity after this forced break to dial it back a bit. But most importantly to not stress about it and see if I can achieve my usual goals while still getting all the benefits. Here’s why.
Pushing myself harder and further is one of if the not the most important and enjoyable aspects of training for me. People often parrot the phrase of no pain no gain to me. But for me it’s the ‘pain’ where I get the most gain. The challenge, the struggle, the fight are for me where I feel I gain the most.
This isn’t optimised training in any shape or form and it wasn’t supposed to be. I wasn’t competing as an athlete, bodybuilder, or power lifter. I just wanted to do more, compete with myself, push myself harder and defeat my weaker self. It was good. I enjoyed improving myself as an individual and improving my life. It still is and I still am.
It’s a comfort for me. Training is my happy place. I love it. I love the benefits and almost every rep. The physique isn’t a priority. If it was, I probably would have been taking more rest from the beginning with more optimised routines. It’s all the other benefits that I get from training and especially during the actual training that do it for me. I just want to train.
It started when I challenged myself in my early teens to lose my masses of weight. I knew it was in my hands to change things and no one and no excuse would change that. Only I could make those changes and take the necessary actions myself. So I did. It was that gratification in setting and achieving these previously unfathomable challenges that got me going and always wanting to do more. It only got more and more important in my life as I pushed myself harder and further, and learned more about myself and life. It improved and continues to improve my life immensely. This is how it’s been for me for roughly fifteen years now.
This is why for me it is harder to take a rest day than to go and train. It’s the actual training that gets me. Therefore, training less is more challenging than adding more to my training. I would always ask myself, can I do more?
After this third and hopefully final lockdown, I’ve had a rethink and decided to reassess and work on this new challenge. Three months without access to a gym and full equipment had me eager to go back the moment the doors were opened. During the lockdown I trained very differently, but still very hard, yet I couldn’t wait to be back at the squat rack at the first possible chance. And yes, I was back at the gym Monday afternoon on the twelfth of April, the first day the gyms were allowed to reopen.
But it felt like a good time to take this sort of new beginning to set this new challenge of less. Because of the break, it’s almost as if I’m starting again, so it felt like a good time to change things up. However, it has actually been a bit harder than I thought. I wanted to get back to where I was before the closures and as quickly as possible. I really wanted to dive back in to my comfort place of almost daily training and get back to pushing the same numbers as before. The feeling that it would take longer to get back there because I’m training less upped the ante even more.
Even with all the home training and running I was doing, the first training sessions back have been really tough. I feel like I’m sixteen years old again struggling for my first decent PR’s. Even the easy sets I was doing after the second lockdown but before the latest lockdown were proving a struggle. That’s usually how it is when there’s a break in training and are forced to find other ways to train. It is definitely making it harder to stick to my new goal of doing less. But in truth it won’t take too long to get back to where I was even if it may feel that way.
It was during the break that I was questioning my training. It got me wondering and questioning why I was actually spending so much time training and if I could still achieve my goals while enjoying all the benefits with less. Life is important and it’s important to balance all the different aspects of it no matter how beneficial or how much enjoyment I get from one thing or another. I talk a lot about living and life is to be lived. Training still shouldn’t overtake the rest of life even though it’s an immensely important element in life.
For the most part, I’ve had a rule not to take two days off training in a row. Now, I’m working with the possibility that I may be taking two consecutive days off a week. As life moves on, we find that we need to adapt to different situations and here I’ve been feeling is the right time to rebalance things. I’m a big advocate of fitness, but I believe it’s important to find what works for you as an individual and how it can improve your life. Life is the important thing here. This is really what LIFE ON FITNESS is all about.
It’s going to be tough, but the plan is to give it a try and see if it works for me. If I feel like I’m losing some of the benefits and enjoyment by doing less, I will happily go back to doing more. But for now, I’m kind of excited to see how this unfolds.