Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Myth of More is Better

One of my favorite phrases is "isolated hard work." I created this phrase many years ago when I first started as a personal trainer. My philosophy towards training grew out of my philosophy towards life. And that philosophy is very simple yet seemingly very difficult to accomplish. I believe that life is best served when you pick your spots for furious amounts of effort and copious amounts of relaxation.  When you work hard work hard and when you relax make sure you truly relax.


Easier said that done. Like most of the planet I was mesmerized by the accomplishments of Usain Bolt winning the 100, 200 and 4 x 100 in the recently completed 2012 Olympics held in London. He became the first person to repeat this triple gold tally in these events in consecutive Olympics. Although somewhat annoying in self proclamations, Bolt is a living legend. He is a true combination of genetic anomalies and smart training. I want to focus on the smart training because in a documentary on Bolt and his preparation for the Olympics, his father mentioned how Bolt basically trains really hard 3 times a week. Additionally, his father decided that it would be best for Bolt to stay in Jamaica after high school instead of going to college in America as his father explained that American track and field coaches highly over work their athletes. Is he on to something here?

What I can tell you is yes in two ways. One, my heart always told me it was too much when I was a NCAA athlete. And I can also tell you from the physiology of human beings that way too many coaches over trainer their athletes, which also has a detrimental effect on self concept, self esteem and confidence of athletes when they compete. It is the above average understanding of the art and the science of physical training that produces the greatest athletes. Everyone is different so understanding their physiological limits and sweet spots are important as a coach.

So..how does this relate to our lives...simple...less is more! In our work and personal lives it has become a rat race for who can work the most hours and you know what...we have succeeded at that. America has recently surpassed Japan as the country who works the most. How crazy is that? We are on the bottom of vacation time and yes...we are high on stress! The answer? Simple yet difficult to attain...build rest into your schedule. I am not saying to not work hard at all. You must work hard and be persistent in accomplishing your goals, but you cannot do this at the expense of quality of life relationships and quality of work performance. This concept befuddles many of my personal training clients. When I tell them I only want them to train with me a max of 3 times a week they go "why not more?" And I tell them it is not about training so frequent that you begin to over train and reach the point of diminishing returns. In fact did you know that people who over exercise experience similar fitness markers as people who are sedentary? Yup, the human body is truly amazing. In fitness...exercise breaks down the body and the physiological mechanisms such as protein synthesis build the body back up to meet the demands of a progressive overload based workout program. It is catobolism and anabolism at its best!

Now some of you who know me really well might say...c'mon  Dr. D. You are constantly working and are involved in so many projects. What gives? And to you I will say that is not true. I pick my spots when I can do things and I divide my life into super amounts of hard work and super amounts of quality time with family and friends. And it is knowing how to make your life work for you versus you working so hard to seek things in life. Discover your ability to thrive by working and resting appropriately to maximize your performance.

After all...do you want to look back on your life and say all you did was work all the time? No way man. Less is more!

Until next time...

Dr. D
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