Strength & Aesthetics > Sweat & Pain

If 3 sets of 5 reps on the overhead press doesn’t crush your sole… you’re not training correctly.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it warrants repeating: you don’t need to kill yourself in the gym to make progress.

Sadly, for normies, an effective session in the gym is gauged by:

  • Quantity of sweat produced.
  • Amount of soreness obtained.

To be honest, sometimes it might be wise to strive for a sweaty and sore workout. Periodic bouts of extreme movement – a long run or a high volume barbell session, for example – can be beneficial. The problem arises, however, when you only train like this.

Exhausting workouts can feel enjoyable, but if they’re too frequent and beating you up, your motivation to initiate them will wain rapidly. Moreover, you might end up dealing with overtraining, perhaps in the form of inflammation. Prompting this response may have value if done infrequently, but to be training so hard as to be constantly in a state of inflammation? Doesn’t seem healthy.

This is why it helps to reframe physical activity. Avoid “working out”, instead consider “training”. Don’t randomly move weights around. Pick a few exercises that cover your requirements, and track your progress. Track progress in terms of strength, and perhaps, body composition. Let the numbers and aesthetics speak for themselves, not the perspiration and pain.

Let’s Go!

Now, here’s where things get fun. If you’re like me, you actually love training. In fact, it’s not a lack of motivation that’s the issue, it’s the abundance of ambition.

I absolutely love crushing deadlifts in my garage gym. So much so that I’ve often (and still am) guilty of moving too much weight, too soon, before sufficient recovery.

The outcome: more work for worse results.

So, I’ve started flipping the formula. If I want to train most days, maybe even 10 or 20 consecutive days in a row, then I have to plan more intelligently.

In practice, this often equates to planning very short bouts of movement. I get the near-daily training out of my system, but most ‘workouts’ are short and sweet. Just enough stimulus to promote growth, but not too much that I can’t sit on the toilet the next 48 hours. The minimum effective dose.

“But I’m soooo swamped.”

Despite all our supposed wonderful technological advancements, most of us are getting busier and unhealthier in 2021. Some folks actually have to nerve to call this “progress”, but I call it “f*****g ridiculous”. Sadly, this is a subject for another time. Suffice to say, if you’re one of those “swamped” folks, this type of training might work even better for you.

Like I said, you don’t need to crush it. You just need to give your body a sufficient signal to promote growth.

Busy whipping up dinner for the family? Take a few minutes to squat between pre-heating the oven and grating cheese for tonight’s spaghetti and meatballs. Done. That’s it.

Is that enough? For me, yes. But don’t listen to me. Start experimenting. This is a single example from a single person. No one-size formula exists, despite what some Twitter-fitness-evangelists like to preach.

I don’t care what you think, 10 reps at 405 lbs will promote a response. Sometimes a single, heavy, set of deadlifts is all I need.

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