As a kid my role models displayed their ability to outwork anyone else. If you are the hardest worker in the room then you make the most progress right?
Now certainly hard work pays off but smart work is the key to getting the most bang for your buck.
This applies more for anyone training off their own back, any good coach should factor this into your training programme anyway so it is more for your own understanding in that scenario. I is always going to depend on your individual goals but this does influence most of them.
Practice, training, competing.
'What's the difference?'
Let's differentiate each of these:
Starting with the most common competing "but i don't compete!" (bear with me, it's not just silly wordplay). Competing is anytime you are going for a maximal effort, if the intention is to go to failure or to lift as heavy as possible you are competing. The example being if you come in and try to hit your personal best every session you are competing at each session. Ironically most athlete's do this less than average gym goers.
Training is the next step down, for example working from 70-85% of your current PR (max) and you aren't taking that weight to failure. If you are following a structured programme then this is usually factored in by the coach. This is still pretty common in the gym.
Practice, this is the part that isn't sexy and doesn't happen enough. This is working at low heart rate and low intensity to improve the quality of a movement, for example taking the time to improve your bottom position of a squat, or doing sub maximal movement drills for Olympic lifting.
"Why should i care?"
If you want to maximise your progress no matter the direction you want to go in you need to be doing all three of these things at different times.
Not just that, it is hugely important for reducing your injury risk. If you are competing each session at maximal efforts deviations in form become more common as you test your limits. Each little misalignment or uneven push comes with the increased chance of injury.
Now if you are unable to make the time to train frequently it is likely you will compete more to make the most of the sessions you can do.
However if you are exercising 3+ times a week then you need to be considering the stress you are putting on your body. Every time you push to failure you are placing a sizeable dose of stress on the central nervous system. This needs time to recover afterwards.
The solution: Train smarter and make sure you are pushing hard enough to make constant progress not a huge leap followed by a stumble.
Incorporate some practice that focuses on you moving better or more efficiently since these skills translate into your training sessions to make sure you get the most out of your training without getting injured.
How will you adjust your training?
Building Athletic Lifestyles