Training Through Pain: Salvation Through Suffering
By: Michael Hulcher
By: Michael Hulcher
Are you willing to Suffer?
When it comes to hard work perspective is everything. Do you work as hard as you think you do? When you go the gym are you really giving it everything you have or are you simply just showing up?
If you want to achieve your goals you have to do more than just show up. You have to work, you have to grind, you have to suffer. Just because you showed up to the gym doesn’t mean you’ve put in an honest days work and it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve done something to make yourself better.
There is a lot of false information out there. We are inundated with infomercials and training systems promising radical, life changing results for three easy payments of $9.99, very little time commitment, and very little effort. We have been led to believe that we will be successful by making a few payments and putting in a minimal amount of work. How can that be true? How many times have you taken a short cut and failed?
Nothing in life comes easily and if it does you don’t want it because chances are it comes with a catch. It may be the road less traveled but the harder road is always the road to take and the right way is always the best way.
In the realm of fitness most people blame external forces when they don’t achieve their goal. They make excuses for their poor showing. Time, equipment, lack of knowledge, poor genetics, are all common excuses. They rarely look within and blame the real culprit: Themselves.
If you are willing to work hard, if you are willing to make sacrifices, and you are willing to suffer then you will be successful. If you want something bad enough you will find a way to make it happen. It is that simple. Maybe not easy, but certainly simple.
Remember that the most successful people in the world share something in common: they are willing to make sacrifices where others are not. They are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful. There are no excuses. They embrace hard work, they are willing to give everything they have and they are willing to suffer. We could learn something from these people.
There Are Different Ways To Suffer:
a) Working on our weaknesses:
Often times in the gym we will gravitate to the exercises that we like. In general we like them because they are easy or they make us feel good. Does this actually help us improve though? How many of us work on our weaknesses regularly?
A weakness has developed because we have neglected to work certain attributes or ignored certain exercises (probably because we dislike them). If I was to give a person one piece of advice regarding training it would be to make a list of their strengths and weaknesses and then for the next month only work on their weakness.
You’d be shocked the progress a person will see if they do this. It won’t be a fun month and it will be filled with all kinds of exercises you likely hate but I can guarantee results.
b) Do more work:
The best athletes in the world train all the time. It is what they do. In fact in any discipline the single greatest determinant of success is the time a person is willing to give their goal. Do you think Michael Phelps became the best swimmer in the world by swimming 4 hours a week? Do you think Rich Froning is the best CrossFit athlete in the world because he trains only once or twice a week? How many hours of practice did Michael Jordan need to complete to become the best basketball player of all time? The best people in the world at what they do practice all of the time. It is their life. They became the best in the world by being willing to put in more time and quality practice than anyone else.
We can learn from this. The key to improving is to do more work. If you are showing up to the gym three days a week it simply isn’t enough. If you want to achieve your goals you need to be in the gym every day. The every second day mentality just doesn’t cut it. There are no excuses to not be in the gym every day. It isn’t about finding more time, it is about making it a priority.
The excuse I always hear from people is that they don’t have enough time. Yes, I get it that you are busy but there is always more time available. You just need better time management skills or you need to be willing to make a sacrifice.
There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep 8 full hours a night, seven days a week, that adds up to 56 hours. You still have 112 hours left and are you really sleeping 8 hours a night (you should be). Let’s say you also work 12 hour days, five days a week. That is working 9am to 9am, Monday To Friday. The total work is 60 hours. Subtract that from your remaining 112 hours and you still have 62 hours left to play with. You should be able to find at least 5-10 of those hours to train. If you trained 10 hours you’d still have 52 left. If you think you don’t have enough time then what are you doing with your time? Watching TV, playing with your phone, checking your Facebook?
There will be people that will argue this point so do something for me. If you really think you don’t have enough time to train then do something for me. Every time you check your text messages, Facebook, or Instagram do 10 Burpees. You’ll quickly see how much of a time suck these things are. You’ll see you may have more time than you previously thought.
You’re going to have to suffer by giving up some other things you enjoy. You’re going to have to make more time. Bottom line here is that you need to sacrifice, give a few things up, make more time, and just get more work done. Or you can be happy being mediocre. Your choice.
c) Work Harder
As I stated earlier just showing up isn’t enough. Just walking through the gym doors and scanning your membership card or taking part in a class doesn’t ensure you will be successful. You need to work for your success. You need to suffer for it.
Many people have no idea what genuine, hard work looks like. They show up to the gym and go through the motions.
When you are at the gym really go for it. Don’t go halfway. People fall into the trap of doing “junk intensity”. That is when you are working hard enough to beat yourself down a little more but not hard enough to actually facilitate a meaningful change in your fitness level.
To improve you must push yourself past your perceived limits. You must put yourself in an uncomfortable position. You must feel some pain. You need to sweat and you need to bleed. Training should never be easy. You should leave the gym mentally and physically exhausted. The goal each day is to experience “the moment”. That point in a workout where you don’t know if you can continue.
If a workout is hard enough you will know it. During a workout you should think four things. The first you should think is: “I’m not going to make it”, the second is: “I want to quit”, the third is: “I’m going to die if I keep going”, and the fourth is: “I’d rather just die than finish this”.
That is the effort required here. Any thing less is just not acceptable. Learn to hurt and learn to suffer.
Strategies Or Tests To Help you Suffer:
I can’t help you work on your weakness or with the desire to make more time. That is on you. I can help you though figure out what real, genuine hard work is. Most people really don’t know what all-out is. They think they know but they don’t. Here are a few tests that will teach you how to hurt and what your limits are. In exploring those limits you will learn how to suffer:
1) Mile and a half run for time
This one is a classic. Plan a mile and half course and run it as fast as humanly possible. This isn’t a walk, this isn’t a jog. You are trying to get this done as quickly as human possible. The entire effort must be a push. If you don’t want to collapse at the end of this you haven’t went hard enough. My advice is to do this every week for 6 weeks straight. The first effort go as fast as you can Then each subsequent week the goal is to set a new personal best and beat your previous time. By doing this you will ensure that you hit your limits and you must force yourself to suffer to burst through them. By the end of the 6 weeks you will know what it is like to go really hard.
A good goal for the average runner is 9 minutes.
2) 2000m Row For Time
Works the same as the mile and a half run but you are on a rower. I love the rower because the computer is staring you in the face. You can’t run and you can’t hide. Feedback is immediate.
Program 2000m into the rower and row it as fast as you can.
Here is a tip to gauge intensity: If you don’t want to quit at the halfway point you aren’t going hard enough.
If you do this right you’ll know what it is like to suffer.
A good goal for the average person is 7 minutes.
3) 60sec All-out Run, Row, Bike or Ski
Do you know what it is like to truly go “all-out”? If you give it everything you have a minute all-out is about a minute too long. To do this you need to be in the right frame of mind. Try to break the machine you are using. You need to fight, scratch, and claw for every extra meter or calorie. Give this everything you have.
You thought you had been working hard before during your hour at the gym. You’ll find out you were wasting 59 of those minutes.
4) “Death By Burpee”
A simple test that can be done anywhere.
Set a clock and let it run.
During the first minute you do 1 burpee. During the second minute you do 2 burpees. In the third minute you’l do three. In the fifteenth minute you’ll do 15 burpees.
Eventually you will come to a point where you can’t or won’t continue. Either way you’ll learn to suffer
A good goal for the average person is to hit the 17th minute.
Suffering Isn’t all bad
Don’t let the idea of suffering frighten you.
So many people want to take the easy way out. When it comes to training there is no easy way out. The harder path is the best path.
There is nothing wrong with hurting a little bit. There is nothing wrong with being in a little discomfort.
You may think this doesn’t seem fun but you’ll learn to enjoy it. You’ll learn that there is nothing more fun than achieving your goals.
It will make all that suffering worth it.
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