This is Part II of my 3-part series on the limits of power. Please click here to read Part I.
Being Busy Is A Good Problem To Have…
I’ve been chugging along pretty good of late. As I wrote in Part I of this series, with the exception of just a couple of movements, my gym strength is at an all-time high, and my muscle mass is better than I had hoped for being in my 50s. My overall level of conditioning, cycling, and trail times are excellent. It’s been a good year with my physicality. However, there can be limits to success, even when all is going well. In this case, these limits are self-imposed.
As a small business, I generally don’t say no to new business. This autumn my work schedule increased. With the increased work load, my opportunity to exercise, has decreased proportionately. I guess things got good at just the wrong time. Since my strength, and my physique goals have been on the more aggressive side during the past 18 months, and my time to train has been minimized, I have had to reduce the boundaries of my workouts. Hard as it is to admit, work should be my priority.
The time boundaries I have set for myself with regard to my exercise are rigid, otherwise there’s no point in establishing them. This is a time when I have to choose quality over quantity with my all of my athletic training. Within these limits, I am obligated to accept the results of the end product. Even if the end product is not what I desire, it’s what I have time for. I’m 7 weeks into this adjustment, and to this point, my strength and my physique have not suffered.
Efficiency As A Foundation…
I have always trained with efficiency. Through the years I have found a way to blend high-intensity strength training with volume work, and still come out on the near side of an hour. My strength workouts are generally completed in less than 50 minutes. Despite these short duration workouts, the volume of work has been relatively high since I rest little between sets.
On average for large profile muscle groups; back, quads, chest, I perform 12-15 sets, most of which are compound movements. For the one dimensional muscles such as biceps, triceps, hamstrings, and deltoids, I have always performed 4-6 sets of an isolation movement each.
I have always fit in plyometric work when I can, often in-between sets of strength exercises. Cardio, as a form of mental therapy, has taken place independent of my strength workouts, and is done almost daily.
Bringing In The Fence…
When being busy with work, and having a strong desire to stay fit intersect, a compromise is in order. Since work is my livelihood, and being in shape is my hobby, the compromise lands solely on the shoulders of my hobby.
In recent weeks I have reduced the clock of my strength sessions to 40 minutes – period. Wherever I am in the workout, the clock stops at 40 minutes. This has had me at about 8-10 sets for the larger profile muscles, and 3-5 sets for the smaller ones. As always, the heaviest possible weight is used, in the best possible form. Only the volume has been reduced.
This reduction in time has a placed me into a simple mindset at the start of each workout; I have just 40 minutes to complete this workout, so I must maximize every single repetition, but that’s not really new. Again, the heaviest possible weight, in the best possible form, with an absolute minimal rest. Cardio, as a form of mental therapy, is now just 3-4 days per week, but has increased in intensity.
Living within these boundaries has only served to raise my game. Putting limits on the time I spend developing my power, has enabled me to reach new power. Again, despite the reduced time, and reduced volume of training, my strength is at an overall high. I’m even flirting with a clean 450 deadlift, and can hammer out 12 miles on my bike in 30 minutes.
The End Of The World, Not…
When you can look the devil in the eye, shake hands, and walk away without fear, you step into a new dimension.
I have never liked to admit this, but exercise has been a relentless seductress in my life. She’s been good to me yes, but at times I’ve made her a much greater priority than she’s needed to be. That’s on me though, not on exercise. That’s about priorities.
For most of my life, when exercise has curled her index finger, pulled it back to draw me in with the promise of a good feeling, I have always jumped. I’m strong enough these days, to walk away when faced with greater priorities such as making a living, or being there for my family, and my friends.
So I’m taking more days away from exercise due to my work schedule, but also due to an increased desire to stay connected with friends and family. Take note, these are not intentional rest days. There are just a couple of days per week when my workday extends up to 13 or 14 hours. On those days, preparation for my next workday is the priority, not my own workout. Or, and I may just want to watch a game with friends, or spend more time on the phone with my daughter. Exercise can wait another day.
As I have imposed new limits on my exercise time, the world has not come to an end. Shortening my workouts, and missing a few more of them per month has not made me obese, weak, or deconditioned. This has simply set me up to be a better businessman, a better father, and a better friend. And if lessening my gym time does cost me strength, add fat to my waist, or make me less conditioned, it still won’t be the end of the world. Lessening my priorities though… Be well. rc
Please check back in 2 weeks for Part III of my series on The Limits Of Power; what gets left behind. Oh, and there’s this from Gary Clark Jr. Enjoy…