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Edition 66: Fitness Eases Discomfort
I’ve learned over the years to expect a ton of different responses to the work I am asking my clients to carry out. Everything is adapted of course, to what I believe that person can reasonably tolerate, to a level where they are experiencing a degree of discomfort but can still get the work done. Yet some come out of this exertion unscathed and ready to go again, asking ‘is that all you’ve got Gabs you pathetic little man?’, while others appeal to me with a begging look, the puppy dog eyes - the ‘anything but another set’ look.
Every single person who carries out a training session of any worth will take their body to this unsettled ‘alarmed’ state, however not only do we as people differ physiologically, we also infinitely differ psychologically, and both of these conditions will determine our response and ability to tolerate discomfort (and therefore thrive in our pursuit of physical fitness).
Mindset Before a Challenge:
‘This weight looks heavy and I’m excited by that, I’m going to smash it’
‘This weight looks terrifying, I don’t even want to attempt it’
‘I have no experience of this exercise, I am worried about my ability to perform it’
‘I am ready to learn how this exercise works and get better at it rep-by-rep’
‘The work I’m being asked to perform sounds horrendously uncomfortable and I’m scared’
‘I embrace the challenge of this difficult work, and if I fail, I’m going to learn something about my true limits in the process’
Mindset During a Challenge:
‘This feels horrible already and there’s still so long to go. Why lord? Why me? Why can’t this be easy? I’m not going to make it.’
‘1 step at a time, let’s do this, it’s getting harder, I can feel it and I’m ready for that, I’m pushing to the finish.’
‘I’m near my limit, I must be, I’ve never been to this point before so SURELY can’t do anymore. This is disgustingly uncomfortable. Time to stop.’
‘This is so tough but it can’t be my limit. It’s NOT my limit. I’ll find my damn limit when I push with all I have and absolutely nothing happens. Until that point? On we go.’
See, this is how it works, as your fitness level improves, coping with challenges becomes increasingly manageable. In a state of physical unfitness, even the slightest discomfort can trigger an alarm bell in your mind, alerting you to potential harm or difficulty. Remember this is totally NATURAL, this is how we as humans have evolved, respect it and appreciate it, but your task is to learn when to ignore these signals. As you become fitter and more prepared, this internal alarm becomes subdued and takes longer to activate, allowing you to tolerate discomfort and adversity more effectively.
When you are out of shape, your body and mind are accustomed to limited physical exertion, making any discomfort feel overwhelming. It's as if the alarm bell in your head is set to a hypersensitive mode, sounding at the slightest sign of strain or unease. This heightened sensitivity can be discouraging and hinder your ability to push through challenging situations.
Conversely, when you are fit or adequately prepared, your body and mind have adapted to physical demands through regular exercise and conditioning. This adaptation desensitises the alarm bell, leading to a more delayed and gradual response as discomfort arises (ie. The ‘point you’ve never been before’ gets further and further away each time you reach a new point of discomfort). Instead of an immediate and intense reaction, you experience a gradual increase in the alarm, allowing you to recognise and address that discomfort without being overwhelmed.
This increased physical and psychological resilience enables you to endure more prolonged periods of discomfort and push through challenging circumstances. By gradually raising the threshold at which your alarm bell sounds, you develop a greater tolerance for discomfort, both physically and mentally. This heightened resilience allows you to face adversity head-on, maintaining focus and determination for longer periods - that’s a version of yourself worth pursuing no doubt about it. Being fitter simply provides you with the advantage in difficult situations. The alarm bell in your mind becomes less reactive, allowing you to withstand discomfort for longer durations before it becomes overwhelming. You can then confront challenges with greater confidence and determination, ultimately leading to improved overall performance and well-being.
“You can’t out-science HARD F*****G WORK” - Dr. Layne Norton
Movement of the Week: Box Jumps
3 x 5 reps