Do You Know What it Means to Actually Train Hard?

Do You Know What it Means to Actually Train Hard?
Social media & mainstream fitness outlines have depicted the wrong interpretation of what it means to train hard. Learn what training hard actually means!

Log on to Google and type “training motivation” in the search bar.

You’ll find a plethora of images, quotes, articles, and videos that insist that you’re not really training until you’ve puked, blacked out, or have left blood on the bar.

Training through pain, lifting when you’re sick, and stopping at absolutely nothing for your gains are just the things some people need to hear to get pumped to train. 

The thing is, there are two sides to the coin.

The Good

Training to see results both externally and physiologically takes a methodical approach that is perfected through repetition. It also takes hard work, and that’s a factor that too many lifters today take for granted. Simply put: if you want to get big and strong, you have to train for it.

Related: 4 Big Reasons Why You're Still Small And Weak

Your body has to undergo some serious stress in the weight room more often than it doesn’t. There’s no cutting corners, and the goals you achieve will all depend on the amount of work you decide to put into it. 

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If you’re training hard, there should be points where you’re pushing your threshold, and looking for PR’s in many forms other than weight lifted; that includes using better form, better tempo, more range of motion, or performing more repetitions.

Having a mentality of constantly being in competition with yourself is a great way to get past mental barriers and self-motivate you into giving your workouts the attention they deserve.

Developing a mentality of discipline and routine is all-important, especially early on. The measures you can take so as not to derail your resolve to workout hard for the results you seek are like investing money into an account. It really pays off when you take the steps sooner rather than later.

The Bad

With everything said above, there’s a way to look at training that skews a lifter’s vision into something that’s less healthy than it should be. Anyone who’s into training – regardless of the goal – shouldn’t forget what training is about at its core: Health, wellness, and fitness.

The majority reading this aren’t competitive athletes, and have the recreational goal of adding muscle and adding strength for fitness and health purposes.  So what does that really mean?

Like I mentioned above, it means that consistency is the key.  A psychopathic view towards your workouts, dismissing pain as a mere part of the process, and thinking you’ve earned your manhood because you puked on the gym floor is worth a self-assessment. Or two.  

The problem is, the media paints a certain picture of what training should be all about, and front and center are usually people who we admire, and who get paid to play a sport.  Watching them train hard is inspirational – but it’s not to be confused.

M&S Female Athlete Training Hard while focusing on recovery

It’s kind of like watching a multi-billionaire wake up at 3:45AM to go to work until 11PM that evening.  In both cases, our goals may not be to achieve exactly what they have. And in both cases, it overlooks many of the imbalanced sacrifices that helped bring them to that place.

Since we’re lifters, and not pro athletes, it does our body and mind a service not to ingrain in our minds that we should conduct ourselves like we are, beyond the basics of training well, watching our food intake, and getting our sleep

More important, the element of competition is the most prominent factor that athletes and the general public do not have in common. Sadly, in trying to emulate this, we often create competition with others, using training as the subject.  We’re missing the point when we confuse training for a competition with training as competition.

Too often, we unnecessarily push ourselves in the weight room and ignore important factors like good form, adequate rest, and proper intensity.

Related: Are You Weaker Than You Think? Here's How to Get Stronger

As mentioned with seeing pro athletes on TV, this is something that’s commonplace because we as people are prone to playing follow the leader, whether we want to admit it or not.  Staying in our lane, and focusing on our own results – and more importantly our own training effect during a workout is something that escapes the grasp of too many lifters.

What this All Means

In my books, these are the signs of true training:

  • Doing your best not to miss your workout or ruin your routine
  • Respecting your off days and rest habits
  • Being honest about your strength and size goals, and training accordingly
  • Making any competition between you and yourself
  • Knowing when to push yourself, and when to scale things back
  • Respecting your body if you’re injured or sick
  • Never training through pain

These factors will equal not only good workouts, but a workout ethic that will last you for many years, rather than being stuck on present-time gains and short-term goals. Having the ability to train intuitively is worth its weight in gold where your goals are concerned, and like the point above states, it doesn’t only refer to scaling things back.

Our nervous systems and muscular systems aren’t always as predictable as we think. On a day where we feel great, it may be the right time to do that extra set, or squeeze out those extra couple of reps, or maybe even throw in a brutal finisher.

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As we gain experience training our bodies, we should also gain experience in knowing what it can take, and when we should push it.

At the end of the day, training hard doesn’t just encompass right now. To me, it also means far into the future, when most people either quit or get hurt. Don’t be one of those guys. Think bigger picture and modify the steps taken to achieve your goal.

Then you’ll be training hard, but training smart at the same time, and your body will undoubtedly thank you.