Every client who steps into my gym has expectations of how they will do.
Whether they are nervous because they feel out of shape, think they will do okay because they are in decent shape, or plan to crush it because they feel like an elite specimen, they all expect something.
The first two folks are the majority and both viewpoints make sense depending on who you are.
But, occasionally, a character fitting the shoes of the third example rolls in.
Oftentimes it’s in my group workouts so perhaps a client invited a friend or family member to try it out.
Now, I don’t expect every “in shape” person to magically be gifted at every aspect of fitness.
The problem is, many “fit-ish” people blur the lines of the different modalities of fitness.
Usually this is seen when strength and cardiovascular work is combined. A few minutes into the workout, tough guy ends up head down in the corner of the room.
Or you get the cardio king/queen who is used to jumping rope, doing burpees, and running in place (aka bootcamp gyms) who can’t do a pullup or deadlift to save their life. Literally, they would be dead.
In the case of my group workouts, you get a blend of both styles.
You will lift heavy and get strong, while keeping an efficient pace throughout the session.
For starters, I really don’t care what type of training you do.
However, I would recommend that strength training is the foundation of your fitness and if you only have time to work on one modality, it should be that.
If weight is your concern, quit shoveling food down your gullet.
The way you choose to eat controls how big you are and how much body fat you carry.
The point of your workouts is to shape your body and build strength.
Staying strong and mobile while maintaining muscle mass is the key to being capable as you get older. It doesn’t matter if you can run a mile without being winded if you can’t get off the toilet.
Think 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, etc.
But, if you want to improve in other aspects of fitness as well, great.
I simply recommend being realistic about the way you train and what you can expect when you step outside of your normal box.
The focus I want to highlight in this article is summed up by a quote by Archilochus where he said:
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”.
The point is, you improve at what you work on.
I’ll say it again.
You improve at what you work on.
There is no magic wizard who uses sorcery to give you a 300 pound squat just because you can jump rope 500 times in a row.
To keep it simple, here are the three things you need to remember:
1. Spend your time doing what you want to get better at.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend any time working outside your box, but if your goal is to improve your one rep max on the barbell bench press, then your primary chest exercise shouldn’t be sets of 50 pushups.
Similarly, if your number one goal is training for a marathon, your training shouldn’t be to only go on one mile runs.
2. Don’t expect to be good at what you don’t work on.
Yes, there is a small amount of carry over between activities, but it’s limited.
When I got into bike racing I was pretty decent at short sprints and hill climbs because I had strong legs from years of lifting. But, outside of that, strength training had little carryover in the grand scheme of bike racing.
If your only strength is holding power for 45 seconds, it has little value when a race is 2 hours long.
With that being said, strength training is a very important facet to endurance athletes as it helps them shine where the “typical” participant doesn’t (sprints, hills, longer time to fatigue etc.), but it alone will not make you a great bike racer.
Likewise, bootcamp gym class addicts, don’t expect to come into the gym and be able to move the same weights as people who actually strength train with heavy weight.
Breathing heavy, being tired, and sweating alot does NOT mean you got a good workout.
Tough pill to swallow for some of you.
3. Don’t worry about not being good at something outside your focus.
You can choose whatever fitness modality you want, but you aren’t allowed to get down on yourself for not being good at something you don’t train for.
Well you can if you want, but, it would be stupid.
As I said above, there is a little bit of carryover in fitness, but the person who spent the last 6 months building up there 5 rep max squat is NOT going to feel great in the least if they had to do a max set of 25.
Own what you are good at and own what you aren’t.
Also, understand that you are not going to magically “rise to the occasion” on the day of the event or race you didn’t train correctly for.
You are going to do exactly as well as your training allows.
So, when a newbie shows up to my class, awesome.
It’s great to see new faces.
But, don’t carry a giant ego through the door with a check your body can’t cash.
We all have strengths and weaknesses.
There is nothing wrong with that.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at: JwaltersPT@gmail.com
or for more information, visit my website at: