I have literally always struggled with volume in my training, no matter the discipline and the trials and errors I have experienced at programming.
A few years ago I was meeting Ido Portal for the first time. Ido made a fairly good point at his seminar, which took me more time than expected to assimilate:
“If you want to make proper progress, you want to be training 3-4 hours. A day. And bear in mind that this will never get you to any form of competitive level.”
I was offended by so much truth. At that time I would train on average 3 times a week, 1.30 to 2.30 hours each time, and I thought I had reached a peak in my training. I mean, I was attending nearly every class I could possibly take on the discipline that interested me, which was tumbling at the time. Such dedication was so over the top for all the people I knew, for whom breaking a sweat one to two times a week was enough, and even quite commendable. I felt like a beast, I was seen as the “sporty” guy by my friends and relatives. And yet…
And yet I did not realize that I did not belong to the same world as theirs. This was my biggest mistake. Sure, I had read about the importance of defining my goals: I had mine written on a whiteboard I would look at every day. Get a 15 sec handstand. Get the round off back flip by the 10th of August. Stretch for 20 minutes every two days. But I failed miserably at understanding that my brain used my surroundings as a confirmation bias to convince me I was doing more than enough. That I was on the right track.
Truth is, there was nothing wrong with that track… if I expected proper results in a matter of 10 years maybe. If you want to get good, fast, you will have to make sacrifices. You will have to organize your priorities. It is one thing to believe in it, just like I did. It’s another to stick to it. Like, every fucking day. Even when your friends insist on you going wild this Saturday. Even when your wife is nagging. Even when a relative is sick. Even when you have been stuck 10 hours a day at work for the past two months.
Now, isn’t that a bit strict?
Realize what took me years to understand: just because volume is one good recipe for results does not mean it is sound. Your goal is to do the front lever? Good. Are you willing to compromise your relationship with your other half and your career for it? Maybe not. And you are no bad human being for choosing so.
Life is about balance, I believe. What I am trying to tell you here is that neither the Nazi approach to training nor the laid-back couch potatoes doing 30 minutes of stepper every Saturday are right. You are the only one who knows what’s right or wrong. You have to learn to tune into your own body to actually FEEL what is right or wrong for you. Whether is it spending quality time with people, or being by yourself near a waterfall, or chilling in front of Netflix, or training everyday like an Olympic lifter.
Life is a constant feedback as was quoting recently a friend of mine. It shows you your priorities. You don’t know all the pages of your own owner’s manual. But you will find out with experience what really matters to you.
SO, how did I go from there to my current volume of training, which is on average 16 hours a week?
I QUITTED MY JOB.
Catch this: Stop being delusional and living other people’s life. If you have a 9 – 6 job, have to commute, have a partner and maybe even a family you love and want to spend time with friends and relatives, have hobbies, a social life and want to keep them… you will not be able to train so much. Not a chance. And guess what? It’s ok.
I’m not saying training more does not have its value. I’m making more progress now than ever, and it is very rewarding. For me, because I’ve been through that inner journey that allowed me where my priorities are. But to get there I made training, and coaching, my job, and it was the only way for me to keep the balance between all the areas of my life that I care about.
Does it mean there is nothing you can do to optimize your life and squeeze in more training, and more efficient training? No. But more on that later 🙂