Having worked with a number of different clients over the years, it is evident that we always want to win or succeed. Not necessarily against others but more against ourselves and that is great, but sometimes we must fail.
From a fitness perspective, let me explain. Imagine you want to get stronger legs so you squat with weights. If you do that regularly, let’s say x3 times a week, you will see change. But, it will take you longer to get results if you keep the weight the same and don’t increase to challenge yourself. It will take longer if you stick to the same amount of repetitions or the same exercises all the time. This will cause the body to plateau because we have adapted to the training.
Most people will follow the 3 sets of x10 reps. This is basic resistance training methods and there are more advanced methods to follow. But the reason we continue to do this, is because we know we can do it. We know it is achievable and we want to complete it to feel good about ourselves. Realistically, we are doing it because we are happy in our comfort zone. We might increase the weight slightly but we only do what we think we can do, which again means results take longer.
Why should we fail? Well, when we fail in life, we normally learn a new lesson or see things from a different perspective. Then we try to evaluate and analyse what went wrong so that we don’t do it next time. However, in the context of the squat example above, if we increase the weight that we lift and we fail, where we may only do 6 reps instead of 10 which we were aiming for, we actually create a new stimulus. This triggers the muscle to work harder causing more muscle fibres to be recruited. This can tear the muscle which is part of the tear and repair cycle, of how a muscle develops and gets stronger. This principle is known as overload. Even if we fail, we don’t get the number of repetitions or we find it a lot harder than before, that’s ok, because we are trying. We are also preparing our mind and body to do it, so the more we try, the easier it becomes.
My message for all readers this January is simple. New Year, new you, doesn’t work. We set unrealistic goals, we expect results too soon and we make such drastic changes to our daily routine through training and nutrition, that we burn out too soon and are unable to sustain the ‘healthier lifestyle’.
When we fail, that’s a good sign. That is how we progress and that is how we grow stronger (as cliched as it sounds, it’s true). It also allows us to push our body to its maximal potential, which most people don’t know or have never experienced before because they are too happy wanting to change but also wanting to stay in the comfort zone – of which, you can’t have both.
So, if you take one thing away from this article today, remember this…you are not failing, you are challenging yourself to do more than you have done before.
And that is a positive step in the right direction to achieving any goals.