The phrase, "common sense is not that common" is highly applicable to the fitness industry sometimes. Today I want to touch on one reason why we all tend to throw common sense out the window when it comes to how hard we train.
When discussing how hard we train, one big reason we tend to ignore what should appear to be common sense is due to the kind of content we see on TV, movies and social media. The biggest loser is one who has been widely criticised for using highly inappropriate techniques to train highly un-trained people in the name of entertainment. It's got to stop.
My mind goes to the clever people in the marketing department who pump out ads in fitness for this type of confusion. Ads for everything from training methods, equipment, clothing or even the 'personal brands' on instagram. They know how we react to certain a stimulus and they've been playing on it big time.
For example, most people value hard work. Even if in reality you're not necessarily a hard worker, we all like to think we are. So when we see a picture or video with people working out, sweating profusely and lying on the floor (whilst also somehow looking prepared to take their next ID photo) we associate that as a standard for hard work.
(Spoiler alert, there's a handy little spray bottle in the camera man's arsenal for these "sweaty" kind of shots).
So what happens when it's our turn to exercise? Well our perception of quality work is distorted, making us think we need to be on the verge of passing out or throwing up for the session to be classed as successful.
Your body is a pretty amazing and complex machine, it will work and work and push as hard as you want it to, but it does have its limits. I would argue that losing consciousness or having an abrupt bowel movement due to exercise is the opposite of successful.
You went too hard and your body found a way to make you stop doing it.
I'm positive your face doesn't need to inspect the floor that closely and your breakfast was probably delicious, so maybe don't do that next time. Beware the coach/trainer that glorifies vomiting during a session as a sign of good work.
Furthering this, we see captions and slogans that compare going to the gym to going to war.
"It's not heavy, you're just weak",
"Pain is weakness leaving the body"
"No pain, no gain"
"That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger"
I just googled 'gym motivation' and a poster popped up saying "time for war".
Against who!? My own body? Because if so I can assure you there will be no winner.
Injuries in training are unfortunately a part of the process and can only be completely avoided by divine intervention, but we can reduce the risk of them happening by simply being smarter with how we train. Training like you're a soldier from '300' is a nice way to increase those odds that a serious injury is just around the corner.
I can't just blame the folks from marketing though, because maybe they started this, but more and more online, below standard trainers and extremely unqualified insta-model types have continued the trend.
They've gained our attention posting videos that look more like circus tricks and less like exercise and it's warping our view of what is hard and what is dumb.
What we need is a bit of common sense. If it hurts when you perform an exercise, you're not ready for that exercise- However, good news is there are thousands of others we can choose from instead.
Creating positive change requires working to a point where you will feel uncomfortable, but there is a line and you do not need to cross it. A good program will help you find this point so that you leave the weight room feeling worked, but not like you've been hit by a train.
Unsure if you're working hard enough or possibly too hard? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org and lets talk about your training.