I am always slightly amused whenever someone asks me how often I train, because the reaction to my answer is often a measure of surprise. I had lunch today with my husband and his brother. My brother-in-law asked how often I train with my coach (three times a week), and then he asked how much I train at home. He seemed surprised when I said that I don’t do anything at home aside from basic stretching and mobility work.
My brother-in-law has been retired for many years, and he began going to a gym a few years ago and managed to lose a significant amount of weight. He spends a lot of time at the gym. Like hours at a time. He just got back from a two month holiday in Thailand, so he was talking about adding in evening cardio workouts to his already crazy morning gym sessions. I get that he doesn’t have many demands on his time, so he can spend hours and hours at the gym; however, I have trouble comprehending the need to be there that long that often.
I train three times a week for about an hour each session. Once upon a time, I would do a bit of running on my non-gym days, but I haven’t been running for months and don’t expect to be running for many months to come. I do my thing at the gym under the careful eye of my trainer. We are gearing up for competition training right now, but even in my non-competition periods, there is always direction and purpose to my training. Some days it feels like I don’t do as much work, yet I never leave feeling as if I haven’t done anything.
The only “training” I do at home isn’t even really training. I do some foam rolling or, the more torturous, rolling on a lacrosse ball. Both my chiropractor and my coach frequently give me little stretching or mobility exercises to do at home to work a problem area, so I do those things, too. Right now I am giving attention to my right quad, hamstring and ankle, my shoulders, and the left upper trap area. It might take me 20 minutes, at most, to work all these areas.
In the grand scheme of things, I actually spend very little of my time at the gym or training. Sure, there are times when I think that I’d like to train more, but I have come to the understanding that more is not always better! Obviously I am continuing to improve and still gaining strength, so the amount of time spent training probably isn’t the primary factor in getting stronger, at least not from my limited perspective.
Sleep, nutrition, hydration, attitude…I think these are all important factors that go hand-in-hand with training. My worst training sessions have come on the heels of several consecutive sleepless nights. Food is fuel. Food is building blocks. Water is so important. I used to dislike drinking water, but now I drink water more than anything else. The right attitude is extremely important! Without it you might never get started or you might quit when the going gets tough. Even if you don’t begin with the right attitude, you can still find it, grab hold of and claim it if you are persistent. What is the right attitude? Maybe that answer will vary from person to person, but I think the right attitude includes humility, confidence, gratitude, a desire to learn and grow, a willingness to change and step outside the comfort zone, joy in the big and small things, and trust.
I love my time in the gym. I jokingly refer to the gym as my happy place, but I’m really not joking when I say that. However, I do appreciate the fact that I do not need to spend hour after hour, day after day in the gym to achieve my goals. I didn’t need it to lose weight and change my body composition. I don’t need it to improve on my powerlifting performances. What I need most is what I already have…a good coach, my training times, rest days, good food, plenty of water, adequate sleep, and a positive attitude.