Training Smart
A Wealth of Wisdom
by James Bullock

STFU and Train!...The Smart Way

For those of you who read our articles, you’ll find that the biggest theme is performance based training. Honestly, no matter what goals my clients have the primary focus is performance. I have found that this method of training is the most optimum way to reach any goals including that of even the casual gym member; it doesn’t matter if the goal is weight loss, bodybuilding, strength gains, or improving sports performance.

The old cliché of training smarter, not harder holds a wealth of wisdom, and is a riddle in a way. The smarter you train, the MORE you can train. The more you can train, the faster you progress. The key is not exceeding your ability to recover.

Many athletes forget that lifting iron is a means to the end, and not the end itself. Unless lifting is an event within the sport, it is best to not get caught up in focusing on gym numbers. For these clients, increasing athletic performance in their sport is the primary goal. When using performance based lifting, the gains in the gym continue to happen without annihilating the body, allowing it to recover quicker. This is one way of training smart.

Destroy yourself in the gym, and you have nothing left for your sport. I love getting new personal records on my lifts as much as anyone else. The question is, can you accept not hitting a new personal record?

If the answer is no then you need to reevaluate your priorities in the gym. Listen to your body and let performance dictate your work in the gym, not an arbitrary number because ego and pride demand it.

There have been times that I have terminated an exercise due to my performance degrading while the rest of my lifting crew is able to continue on with the exercise without losing performance. No matter your level of strength, be aware you will reach your limits. The body only has so much to give on any given day and there are only so many tricks to push it to its daily maximum.

By ending an exercise once your performance begins to degrade, you are ending on a positive and not completely robbing the body of every ounce of energy it has. By doing this, in most cases, you can still improve your performance in the gym despite not hitting a new PR. This is another way of training smart.

As I am a big believer in not accepting limitations, I must remind myself (and you, my readers) that there is a fine line between pushing oneself to another level and complete overkill of the body. The gym is a place to improve, not train to the point that all that is left of you at the end of your session is a DNA spot on the floor.

Completing insane challenges in your training from time to time must be placed in proper perspective with your overall goals. If you have a competition coming up in a matter of days it makes no sense to obliterate every fiber of your being while lifting or doing some ridiculous conditioning challenge. Trust me, a number of athletes will over work in their preparation for a meet/game only to experience loses in performance due to lack of recovery and efficient use of their energy in the gym.

Remember that training is the means, not the end. Training smart, not hard is the key. It will not only make your training better and more fruitful, it will also lead to better performance in anything you do.

Strength & Honor

James Bullock


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About the Author

James Bullock is the head coach for Irondom Performance Systems and Combative Sciences. He's written programs for athletes and non-athletes alike, including numerous world record holders in various sports. Combative Sciences was found in 1999 and is the culmination of decades of martial arts training. 

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