This is the thought I originally intended to convey when I sat down to write a blog post about taking an exercise or feat as far as you can. It was really originally about the kettlebell training I’d been doing. You know I’m all about balance and variety. Having a big bag of tricks to pull from is a great thing. You never know when you’ll need it. Sometimes we suffer from too much choice. Too much easy access to many different training styles and exercises, instead of staying consistent with one thing long enough to get real progress we train as if we’re channel surfing with a remote control. 900 channels and nothing is on.
The opposite end of the spectrum is full of folks beating a dead horse. Using a program that doesn’t work or has stopped working or that is hammering them, because they are so committed to it. Staying on one program with religious zeal, because “it’s the only manly way to train,” is a good way to drive you to injury. So what’s an aspiring tough guy to do? Ahh… here Grasshopper is the answer: This in fact is a word you’ll probably hear endlessly on this website: Balance.
Balance however is not another word for mediocrity or bland intensity. Here’s an example. My basic pattern for quite some time has been 3-4 workouts a week. One to two heavy sessions, one hard interval and one session dedicated to the kettlebell swing or something of similar taxing endurance. Now that one swing session has been a radical thing. Regularly pushing very hard. Taking that one exercise as far as I possibly could. Getting good at it and getting the most out of it. Making radical progress from 500 reps to 1000 reps to 2000 even up to 3000 constantly doing more reps without putting the bell down and finding the total reps faster.
The first time I did 1000 reps it was with the 24kg/55lb bell and it took 45 minutes. The best I’ve done so far is 1000 with the 32kg bell in 24 minutes completely non-stop. I also did 1000 with the 106 in 45 minutes, doubling the load for the same reps and time. Some people would say this is overkill and unnecessary. I reiterate – Take one thing as far as you can, but here’s the wrinkle – The rest of my workout provides balance. I don’t do the super high-rep swing exclusively and not so often that it hurts me. There’s heavy work in low to moderate volume for all the major muscle structures. The interval day provides variety in exercise selection, pattern, muscles worked and all the days vary in intensity.
It all comes down to this – Find Balance while still pushing one thing as hard as possible. Not only will you reach unbelievable new heights and PRs, but you learn much of yourself in the journey.
Think of it this way – Hermit crabs molt. So do many other crustaceans, reptiles and insects. They slough their exoskeleton in order to grow. So imagine the limits you set in your mind and therefore on your body, your potential and your future be it physical, monetary, spiritual, or anything else are only determined by the size you think is possible. That thought, is like an exoskeleton. It’ll keep you in, suffocating and trapped. You have to break past it, move through it, slough it off. You are the only one who can determine your potential and greatness. When you limit your training and life by what others do or what they tell you, you can do, you stunt your own growth.
Taking one thing and pushing it to its limits for your personal growth and PRs is like sloughing those old thoughts, mindsets and barriers. It’s not just picking something up and putting it down – its a commitment and the growth of a human being to evolve into a better, stronger, fitter more confident person, while intelligently balancing it’s component with the rest of life for a complete, healthy presence of being.
“‘Err on the side of protein in whatever style of eating you choose. Err on the side of sleeping more and drinking more water. Err on the side of relaxing more and having more fun.’
from Bud Jeffries’ book Maximum Functional Mass. This is one of the best health and fitness books that I’ve ever read. In fact, it is one of those rare books that I’ve read multiple times. It is crazy good. The emphasis is really on the word functional more than mass. I would especially recommend this book to anyone interested in strength, athleticism, CrossFit, or better movement.”