Monday, November 14, 2011

Do More of What you Suck At!

Do you ever wonder where you weaknesses come from?  They are the result of your habits and movement patterns.  If you sit a lot for your job, you develop tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings.  If you don't do stretching exercises to counter this behavior, you will eventually end up with pain and dysfunction.  Or take another more personal example, and perhaps you train heavy weightlifting movements most of the time, like me!  I get great gains in strength and muscle mass, but the weakness that results is that my cardiovascular endurance is relatively poor.  Why? Because I don't train movements or activities with enough frequency to make positive changes to that system. 

So does that mean that I should ignore that weakness?  Well, if you are like me, your ego is saying "yes."  Our egos like us to continue performing the activities and movements that we are good at and like to perform. However, if we want to optimize our fitness, and achieve a more balanced body, you should not ignore your weaknesses.  You should find what you suck at, and work on those movements or activities. 

That doesn't mean stop doing what you enjoy or what you are good at, but simply weave in some work to address the weaknesses you discover.  Try including something at least once or twice a week, and it doesn't have to be a large time commitment.  To make significant changes in my cardiovascular endurance, I could jog 1.5 miles one day, and perform a 10 minute kettlebell interval training session on another day.  In less than 30 minutes a week, I would likely see changes in as little as 3-4 weeks. 

You should do the same.  Find what you suck at, learn activities or exercises that address those weaknesses, and then act on them regularly.  Plan this out, because remember, it will not be things you enjoy doing.  Additionally, your weaknesses may change over the course of a year or two.  You may fix one problem, and then find that another problem needs to be prioritized.  For example, the office worker I mentioned in the first paragraph has tight hip flexors and hamstrings.  Well, after 6 weeks of daily stretching, those muscles are no longer tight, but I bet their abdominal muscles are weak too.  So, time cut back on the stretching to a maintenance level, then focus on strengthening the core over the next 4-6 weeks.

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