How hard should you train?

How good was Tetris?!

I remember being absolutely desperate to have my own Game Boy so I could play it.

In fact – this is bit sad to admit – I actually made myself a Game Boy out of cardboard so I could pretend I had one!

Luckily a few months later I did actually get one for Christmas and remember spending hours and hours stacking those blocks!

The beauty of Tetris and part of why it was so addictive was because it was hard but do-able.

I remember playing Call of Duty once on the hardest level and lasting about 20 seconds before switching it off.

There was no enjoyment in it whatsoever, and I could never see myself reaching a point where I could play on that level so I gave up.

Where as Tetris provided enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.

You won enough to feel like it was worth playing…

It wasn’t so easy there wasn’t any joy when you did win…

And equally, it wasn’t so hard that it felt pointless.

This balance of hard but do-able is exactly what you’re looking to achieve with your training.

It’s the ideal way to approach it from a mental perspective but also from a physical standpoint and what your body will respond best to.

It can be really difficult to know how hard to push yourself in your workouts. Should you be pushing yourself to failure and crawling out of the gym exhausted? And if you don’t feel like this has it been a waste of time?

The reality is that you should aim to spend most of your time training at around a 7-8 out of 10 in terms of intensity.

That means it should feel tough, but you finish your sets knowing that if someone had forced you to do more, you could’ve done another 2-3 reps. For most people, most of the time, this is the best approach.

What you’ll find is that over time you’ll be able to lift slightly more weight or do slightly more reps whilst maintaining that 7-8 out of 10.

By doing this you’re exposing your body to a load that it’s able to adequately recover from consistently.

This is the intensity that I like to have my clients training at because it feels good and they make great progress training this way!

At the start I’ll design a training programme that is appropriate to introduce them to lifting weights and training. I want them to feel confident mastering the basics. By aiming for about a 7-8 out of 10 it means they don’t feel anxious about pushing too hard or doing something that’s too far beyond them.

Then we’ll progress the workouts to slightly more advanced training programmes and exercises. But still aiming for that same manageable intensity the vast majority of the time. There will be times where we will really go for it but it’s carefully programmed to ensure it’s appropriate.

Remember that your training is only as effective as your recovery.

The time where you are recovering is what allows you body to adapt and get stronger, fitter, faster, more muscular.

Pushing too hard, too often is going to put huge pressure on your body. Which means it’s going to take you longer to recover and if you then want to train again 2-3 days later there’s a chance you won’t be recovered enough to do so.

Aim for that sweet spot of 7/8 out of 10 and think of Tetris.

Hard but do-able.

That’s where the magic happens!

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