Growing up, there's nothing I wanted more than strength and well-defined muscles. I loved watching wrestling too. Batista was my idol. I did push-ups and sit-ups religiously, anticipating my "Batista look." Unfortunately, that remained a dream. Frustrated, I quit working out. And quit watching wrestling.
Eleven years later, the workout bug bit me. I visited a gym near my home and enquired about what I needed to start. I was on fire. Nothing could stop me. No "Batista looks" ambition. My work ethic would determine my progress. Six months later, this is what I found out about training.
Accommodate fatigue and pain
Oops! The glory came last. "No results without pain" should be the greeting in every gym. Luckily, my previous workout taught me that training hurts. No knowledge, however, could have prepared me enough. The pain that ensued the first training was unbelievable. And it only got worse, day-after-day! Was this the new normal?
And the pain wasn't the only new thing! I was so fatigued after training that I couldn't work. Then, I knew the two things I had to contend with - fatigue and pain. Yes, they were the new normal. Ever-present. A stark reminder of what it took to accomplish my goal.
Fortunately, I got used to it and altered my daily routine to accommodate them. In fact, the pain became a tool for assessing the efficiency of my training. The more it hurt, the closer I inched to my goal. Then an hour nap ensued training to ease fatigue.
But hey! More changes were to come.
Be ready for change
I thought the training was just training. But I was wrong. It was more demanding. My lifestyle had to change.
First, I added an extra meal due to my high metabolism. Second, I bought some training gear. I was equipped with my shorts and sleeveless shirts alone. A hoodie and sweatpants came in handy in cold weather. And the soft padding of an athletic shoe was ideal for squats.
Lastly, I had to focus on training. A penchant for fantasising and making plans while training had developed. This proved to be detrimental. I forgot to count my reps and dissociated mind-muscle connection. Therefore, my training's efficiency dwindled.
What about the time? I thought I was making big savings on that. The gym was a kilometer away after all. But no. I set aside 45 minutes to train. But I ended up spending an hour! Sharing equipment proved to be dilatory.
And that's not all. The movement to and from the gym. Coupled with changing from the sweaty training gear to a fresh outfit. Compounded the time loss. This prompted me to think about training at home.
Then an interesting observation came in with experience. That training was more mental than physical. How?
It's common to start with high spirits. Then the vigour fades with time. Laxity may also set in. To skip a training day or two seemed okay. I would reschedule it or convince myself that the pain wouldn't allow more torture. Or I exceeded the set training time under the pretext of enjoyment.
Ultimately, I discovered that I wasn't taking rest days seriously. Taking a break felt like an indolence. Which I wasn't fond of. So I kept myself busy. Without proper rest, my training momentum took a dip.
On some days, I would be very optimistic. But my performance was low. While on other days, training felt like retribution for being skinny. But my performance was great. Why the paradox?
Moods had no effect on my performance unless I allowed them. While performance was affected by other factors like quality of rest and diet. But optimism proved to be the undisputed antidote to poor performance.
So what can you learn from my experience?
Planning is key to accomplishment. Implement the following to integrate training in your routine with ease.
Firstly, embrace living with aching muscles and post-training fatigue. Accept them as the effects of training. It isn't much you can do to avoid them. Fortunately, the intensity of pain decreases with subsequent training. But not all pain is good pain. Seek medical advice when it's chronic. Also, consider napping after training and enjoying your rest days. Hooray!
Secondly, be ready to sacrifice your money and lesser goals. Like a puncture on a trip, unexpected occurrences may extend the training duration. Know the disposable goals to cater for such occurrences. Research to find out if training at a gym or at home suits you.
Lastly, clearly define your training goal. And don't allow moods or expectations to detract you. Your performance won't be a straight line. You will have good days and bad days. When moods seem to get in the way, start with the exercises you enjoy. Then resume your normal routine because consistency is key to obtaining results.
Most importantly, and you've heard this before. But I'll tell you again. "Love what you do." The six months were not all glorious. My joints hurt from the travail. Sometimes for a week! Before adapting to my mission. But love saw me through it all.
Happy training. Good luck.