Training For Longevity
Training for longevity.
A.k.a ‘The holy grail.’
A.k.a ‘The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.’
I’m serious right now. For me, finding a way to make sure I’m still training throughout my entire lifespan is right up there with muscle ups or snatching your bodyweight in terms of difficulty to achieve. I’m talking real longevity. Training into your 50s, 60s, 70s…screw it, 80s and 90s too! Don’t see many grandparents sweating it out daily on the gym floor do we? So how do we turn this beautiful, functional, comprehensive training routine into a lifelong relationship? Truthful answer is I’m not 100% sure, I’ve not done it yet but I’m pretty confident I can talk about a few key ideas that you should start thinking about daily that will play a massive part into turning this into a lifetime of fitness.
When you keep in mind the fact that Crossfit as an idea was created to train people to be fit and healthy throughout their lives, we still see a large degree of turnover and dropout across the industry. Guys and girls that come into Crossfit, and become ‘hooked’ to the point they’ve attended everyday for the first 6 months. Put the pedal to the metal every time the clock went beep, and celebrated every PB for just under 2.5 seconds before they went hunting for the next 10kgs, or personal best. They drain themselves, emotionally, psychologically, and physically to the point that they crawl over the 12-month mark and the towel gets thrown in soon after. We’re lucky at Perpetua to have an ethos that guards against this pitfall. An ethos that we attempt to make clear to athletes from the moment they step into the gym for their first intro session, but believe me this scene is commonplace across the industry and crops up as a key talking point among the experts on podcasts and seminars time and time again and our community is not exempt. It’s an extremely easy thing to miss with an athlete, who for the first 6 to 12-months just looks like they’re absolutely loving the training, and it’s not an easy conversation to have when telling someone to slow down, take a day off or don’t come in. So what can we do as athletes and coaches to keep the idea of longevity front of mind throughout our training.
The biggest chance to cause effect with this revolves your approach to each session, based on the recognition that Crossfit is a sport. Stick with me. Crossfit is a sport. The level of technique and skill required in Crossfit is incredibly high. Higher than a huge amount of more traditional sports out there, or at least on a par with them. With this in mind consider this, when would you ever step onto a hockey/rugby/football pitch, having barely played before and go straight into a full-on match. Full contact. And expect to do anything other than fail. We can take it further. Once you step off the pitch, when would you ever continue to use full-on matches as your sole source of getting better. You wouldn’t. You’d go onto the training pitch and run drills. Spend time on closed and open skills in a non-pressure environment to get them dialed in. Spend time on your conditioning away from the pitch. Put hour after hour into PRACTICING the skills required to compete in a match. Then go out and test yourself. Identify strengths and weaknesses, go back out onto the training pitch and start again.
This can transfer beautifully into your training in the gym. Put simply, not everyday can be a competition day. Not everyday can be a testing day. Not everyday can be about winning a WOD, beating a previous best, or going as fast as physically possible. To get better and improve some days have to be about practice. About taking the weight off and dialing in movement without the pressure of weight. Some days need to be about execution of movement instead speed. Some days need to be about removing ALL expectation of a workout and just focusing on one or two specific areas you know cause you issues and improving them. Lets take a made-up workout as an example…
Instead of the approach being on the time it takes to complete the workout. Your sole focus might be on keeping your ribcage down and glutes tight at the top of your push press. That’s it. One point of performance to get right and any concerns about going slowly, or total outcome are negated because you know that today is a day to practice. Not compete.
A simple change in approach and the way you view your training that will go a very, very long way to not only improving your chances of longevity but also increasing the enjoyment factor. No one wants to train under pressure every day. Setting expectations that are based on outcome instead of process and only set us up to fail or feel like we’ve lost.
I’m hugely interested in this topic and feel very strongly about it. The phrase that best encapsulates what we’re trying to achieve for 99% of our community is ‘training for last 10 years of life.’ What I mean by that is developing a programme and community that sets you up with the chance to be living independently into old age. Buck the trend that being elderly means your dependant on your children looking after you or put in homes. Or even simple things like needing help to get off the sofa or up the stairs. That’s the Holy Grail for me, and knowing when to practice or compete is one way to help me get there.