Training With Intention: Deliberate Practice
If you are reading this blog, I can only imagine that you are someone who cares about their health and fitness and is someone who potentially has a personal trainer, goes to the gym or has a regular workout routine. However, before we go any further I have to ask you a simple question. Do you even workout?
Now, you might ask me why I would ask such a ridiculous question when I am already assuming that you have some sort of fitness routine. But, like many of our blogs and ideas, we always want to know if you are reflecting enough on your past fitness experiences.
Of course, it isn’t smart to fix something when it's not broken, however like the late Greg Plitt has said, you should always be looking for ways to make things better.
It is within this statement that brings this topic to life and really to this question, do you even workout?
Training With Intention is all about looking and reflecting on how we can help educate, motivate, and inspire people to go above and beyond what they're currently doing to make their health and fitness that much better. And so, reflect and look at your workout routine, look at the results you want and honestly ask yourself if you're making the strides to get there.
I didn't understand this concept myself until just a few years ago. My whole entire life I did workouts going through the sets and reps, and feeling as though I was making myself better. I would train three times a week , lift “heavy”, do some sprint training, and on occasions I would do some type of competition.
However, it wasn't until I started to become more competitive and faced harder competitions that I realized that I hadn't been working out efficiently and that I had just been going through the motions. This is where I found what deliberate practice actually meant. Deliberate practice is simply structured, focused training with the understanding that the movements, exercises and the workout that day would not be easy and most likely something that I would not enjoy. Which to many people would have them shaking their head in asking why would you do something that you didn't enjoy and that made you feel like you were a failure? And quite honestly, I would agree with them until I fully understood what it meant to train with deliberate practice.
When you look at your routine and how you work out, you need to understand that you cannot continue to do the same thing over and over expecting different results. This is Einstein's theory of insanity. So how can you continue to train and continue to get better by doing the same thing and the answer is you can't.
It is why, within your training methodology, it is so critical to understand that there will be times in your routine that you must push yourself beyond your comfort zone, push past the social desire to work out with your friends and push beyond the norm of your typical routine. Make at least one week or just even one day a month of your time putting yourself into a situation that feels unbelievably uncomfortable with a deliberate practice session.
When you put it in context, you can start to understand that by pushing the same amount of weight, but just adding higher reps here, some lower reps there, won't really get you the results that you desire. In addition, if you continue to run the same distance, but do it roughly within the same amount of time, give or take a few minutes, things will eventually phase out and like many of us get stuck in this limbo and plateau we all strive to stay out of.
So reflect and look at your weekly schedule. Even more so, your monthly schedule, to see where you can put in some deliberate practice.
Don’t get me wrong, deliberate practice is not focused on hurting yourself or going to the point where you're about to puke (though this may happen). Deliberate practice is not letting any distractions get in your way like phone calls, text, those breaks to talk about the current events in between sets (you know what I’m talking about). Deliberate practice is about having a “get-in, get-out” mentality, hitting the exercises you need to while using the rest that is laid out and pushing your body beyond its comfort zone.
You must grasp this concept, you will not want to lift another weight the rest of the day or run another mile for at least 24 hours if you do this right. One example of this is doing sprint training, maybe even uphill or around a track with 100% effort, resting and repeating until you are exhausted, typically between 8-12 sets. Another example is taking your current high intensity interval class and going so hard with focus and intention that the rest periods they give you are not looked at as simple annoyances, but are looked at as wishing there was more rest within the set.
In other words, have you ever finished your run or workout where your muscles are just shaking, your legs start seizing up as you walk out the gym doors, or your gasping for air looking for the nearest bathroom just incase you puke? If it's been a while or you can't remember moments like this within your training, something tells me that you haven't had a deliberate practice session in a long time. Of course, these feelings of muscle seizing up, lack of oxygen in the lungs, and its hard to move all sounds pretty intense, scary, and extremely uncomfortable. This is exactly what you need to look for when it comes to deliberate practice. Especially, if the results you were looking for are truly what you want. So maybe before you ask yourself if you truly need to have deliberate practice put into your routine, go back and check yourself on the goals that you want to accomplish. Because the results that you want are right there in front of you. There's no reason why you can't get there, except your own thoughts and fears of pushing beyond your comfort zone. Don’t let all your hard work, sweat and pain stop you, because as Eric Thomas says “if you are already in pain… get a reward from it” and go that extra degree to get there.