It was last November, and I was having dinner with a good friend of mine.
As we enjoyed our food, he told me all about his life, travels, and how even with a very demanding career, he has managed to keep health and fitness a part of his life for over 50 years.
So I asked him, “What is your secret? How have you managed to stay healthy, keep your joints in good-condition, achieve a body and health status far above average, while also preventing the 50+ years of exercising, weight-lifting and intense training sessions from taking a negative toll on your body? What is the secret to your longevity?” His response was:
Steve, a long-time ago I heard a quote that really hit home for me, which was, “Sometimes our BEST workouts, are the ones we DON'T do.”
Now, taking this statement at face-value and applying it in the wrong context, can be very misleading. It almost sounds as if my friend is advocating skipping workouts, being lazy, and so on. But, for those of you who make nutrition, working out, and improving your health and physique a huge part of your life, you know EXACTLY what he meant by this statement.
This is definitely something I myself have struggled with in the past, and something I'm sure many of you have struggled with as well. In a rush for progress and meeting my goals, I have oftentimes pushed my body not just to it limits (in-terms of recovery), but often past. Even as I continued to learn more about human physiology, nutrition, and proper programming, I would still sometimes take the approach that, “My situation is different, and I can handle “x” amount of training, cardio, etc.”
However, my situation was most certainly not different, and just like anyone else, pushing myself to and past these extreme limits, only hindered my progress, rather than help it. A simple statement to support my personal experience and something I’m sure you’ve heard many times before is, “Our muscles do not grow in the gym, but outside of it”. It’s one thing for us to hear this, however it's an entirely different thing for us to actually apply it.
It’s true, you want progress, and you want it now, we all do. You say you’re willing to do anything to reach your goals: 1,000 calories/day, workout 7-days per week, no carbs, or whatever your version of extreme is.
If this is true, if you really are willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goals, then if taking an extra “off-day”, or doing a “light” week of training (referred to as a deload), taking a diet break, or allowing yourself to fully recover from your last contest-prep, is the “whatever it will take”, then you are willing to do this, correct?
A New Mindset
There’s no reason to draw this topic out and make something so simple, seem complicated. It’s nothing more than changing the perception of how you view these times of recovery:
Reframe your “off-days” and “deload” weeks from training, as NOT deterrents from your goals, but rather THE THINGS which will get you TO your goals.
Believe me, as someone who is just like you, I realize this is MUCH easier said than done. However, by constantly being aware of what your goals are, and by acknowledging the validity of the statement, “Muscles do not grow in the gym, but outside of it”, will help you (as weird as this sounds), to take that “off-day”, or that “deload” week from training, so you can recover and achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
You say, “I am willing to do whatever it takes to reach my goals.”
And my response is, “Are you? Well then, let’s see.”
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