Updated: Nov 30, 2020
I was recently asked my opinions on the difference between pushing and forcing when it comes to training and adaptation.
As in all things, there is a time for both,
Let's first think about the two words and their meaning in the context of training and performance.
Pushing, to push yourself, to push towards a goal is a necessity. Without pushing there is little stimulus to adapt. How hard you push on any given day is largely down to your readiness / recovery on that day. If you track HRV, if you test your CO2 tolerance or you track your resting heart rate each morning, then you'll have an idea of how hard you can push today. And so you train accordingly.
Forcing, to force yourself to work at a particular level, this is less healthy. In fact if we're talking about forcing the body, forcing the mind, then we're likely not taking health into consideration at all.
When do we force?
Any time we test, we are forcing. Any time we compete, we are forcing.
Any time we are responding to an emergency situation, we force.
Outside of these times, forcing ourselves to perform to our max is a short road to injury or burn out.
This is a lesson hard learned by most. There seems to be a tipping point somewhere around the age of 28, where people blow up. The years of forcing, of always working at that red line finally catch up and catastrophic injury occurs. I don't know what's special about 28, I have just met many broken up athlete who reported that it was around that age that it all went wrong for them.
But I digress.
There was a quote I read on social media recently that said something along the lines of, if we could learn in our 20's to train like we are in our 40's we'd get on much better.
Because in our 40's many of use have figured out how to listen to the body, most likely because we were stupid in our 20's We've the miles on the clock, we've the wear and tear to show for it, we've learned that warming up, that movement breaks, that mobility work is vital. We've learned that 1 dimensional training leads to 1 dimensional results And we've learn that some days just turning up and getting something done is better than trying to hit a max at every session.
WG-Fit has been the home to many a Type A personality. As a coach, I realised early on that as much as I had to push my guys, there were a large number who I actively had to hold back. Because these guys only knew how to force themselves and if left alone they would blow up or burn out. In order to build a solid foundation, to slowly build up from that foundation, to create a training habit that was healthy, we had to teach them how to push, when to push and when to back off. I'm delighted to report that many of the crew that have been through my doors still report back from the various parts of the world they now reside in saying that those lessons have stayed with them, and 10 years on they're still training, still moving forward and have remained healthy throughout.
The main lesson is to warm up using mobility exercises, to breath well, to ensure a base of cardio vascular fitness and to measure themselves by MINIMUM standards, not by their PR's and their competition results. Yes, that means our athletes too.