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Covering Your Bases: Finding Balance in Training

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“You have to stay balanced, Austin.” This is a lesson I took from my mom growing up.  She always promoted equal amounts of play, work, and recovery.  Yin and Yang.  I’ve really run with this as an adult.  For me, everything that is sustainable and worthwhile has some semblance of balance.  Meals can have contrasting flavors and textures that build off each other to enhance your bite more than if you just had the individual components.  Movies that are serious can have a moment of lightheartedness or comedic relief that allows the film to breathe and create a better watching experience. 


Of course, this philosophy carries over into my approach to fitness.  We can’t only be good at squatting or bench pressing if we want to have a rich ability to move and move well.  We need to be good at lunges and rows and deadlifts, as well.  Breaking it down further, we should probably train aspects of fitness other than strength.   Fitness is more than force exertion… it’s force absorption, mobility, cardiovascular endurance, and yeah, balance.  Having your long-term training program include all aspects of fitness will be more sustainable, more fun, and will keep you healthier longer.  


The best baseball player in the world would likely not be a very good cross-country runner.  Each activity has very different (practically opposite) physical requirements, but that doesn’t mean I don’t improve the baseball player’s cardiovascular efficiency or the cross country runner’s rotational power. A baseball player’s bread and butter!  Improving a baseball player’s cardio will allow them to recover more efficiently, likely increasing their career durability.  Increasing a runner’s ability to powerfully rotate will improve hip mechanics allowing them to produce and absorb forces more efficiently, likely increasing how long they can run at a high level.  Your strengths are always going to be your strengths, but you don’t want your weaknesses to become your limiting factor when it’s time to perform. 


Everything plays off each other, and that’s why balance is so important to your health and fitness.


Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to train all aspects equally; the baseball player is going to lift weights and throw medicine balls more often than they’ll run long distances.  The runner should still be running for the bulk of their fitness regiment.  The point is we all have different attributes that make us good or not-so-good at activities, and without training up those weaknesses, we are susceptible to injury or pain.  Someone naturally flexible doesn’t need to emphasize flexibility training, but lack of strength may be limiting capacity. So resistance training should be a focal point for someone who is very bendy.  The same goes for someone who’s overly rigid..  They’re probably pretty strong but don’t have the mobility to access all ranges of motion.  This person should emphasize more flexibility and mobility in their training program.


Another example, when I was a young buck (age 23-25) and powerlifting, I was super strong, but I was in so much pain from my lack of mobility and poor cardiovascular health.  I didn’t train very smartly, and I was held back by my weaknesses.  I had to retire (for now) from powerlifting, because it just wasn’t fun being hurt all the time.  It wasn’t until I focused a little less on strength and focused more on mobility and proper recovery that my back/knee/elbow/shoulder/etc. pain went away. I was unbalanced, and my performance really suffered for it.  Don’t let this happen to you!


So, what do you need to do?  How do you assure there’s balance in yourfitness program?


You have to know yourself or find someone (like a personal trainer ;)) who can learn your strengths and weaknesses for you.  Like I mentioned before, we don’t need to train things equally.  I hate doing cardio, and mobility can be really boring for me.  I also don’t care to be an elite aerobic athlete or a gymnast, so I do the work that I have to, and then the rest of my routine is what I like and what I’m good at.  Every approach comes down to the individual’s goals and their capabilities.  If you’re constantly having issues feeling physically run down or hurt, you probably need to add some balance to your training program.


Once your exercise is balanced, you can start to look at other aspects of your life that need balance, too.  Have you been spending too much of your time working and not enough time with your family or friends?  My fellow introverts, are you getting enough alone time to recharge your batteries?  Sometimes we just get caught up in a routine, and we don’t assess whether it’s sustainable or even healthy for us.  I challenge all those reading to take a look at how you spend your time per day.  Is it the right amount of balance for you?  If not, make a change or get some help.


I’ll look after your fitness routine, as long as you look after the rest of your life. 


Thanks for reading, everybody:)

Coach Austin

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