Is It Helping You Or Hurting You?

Look at your workouts using a Cost:Benefit ratio:

Is what you’re doing helping you achieve your goals, or impairing your ability to ever get there?

Let’s say you walked up to me and told me, “Eugene, I want to run the marathon and be the fittest, healthiest 35 year old on the planet.”

I would argue you need to change one of your goals. The training for running a marathon is arduous. The actual marathon itself, in the words of those more experienced (insane?) than I,“has an effect not truly felt until years later, when your knees start to ache, your hips start to wobble, and your back begins to throb and you don’t know why.”

In other words, the entire endeavor is a test of what your body can withstand – a performance benchmark. It is a test of limits (remember, Pheidippides died).

On the other hand, being the fittest, healthiest 35 year old on the planet is a far body-friendlier endeavor. A test of willpower? Certainly. A lofty goal? Indeed. But achievable without breaking your body into little tiny bits? Yes.

This afternoon, one of my clients keyed me in to poor Annika Sorenstam’s predicament today. Diagnosed disc problems are terrible for us mere mortals, but for a professional golfer, it makes performing your livelihood (and your life) impossible.

In their quests to become the top player, many athletes engage in Herculean workout regimens (usually imposed upon them by a well-meaning coach or trainer) and (*ahem) marathon training sessions. More is better, one argues.

But what’s too much?

This article shed great insight on what I think is a largely ignored aspect of Sorenstam’s problem: her training program itself. While there’s no denying that golf itself imposes tremendous stress on an athlete’s spine, there is the issue of:

1,000 abdominal crunches a day,”


hours of daily strength training, as well as Pilates and yoga for flexibility.” (emphasis added)

Hours? Physiologically speaking, no one can tolerate hours of strength training, unless it is of low intensity (read: useless). And if we’re using yoga-speak for “flexibility”, I highly doubt it was spine-friendly at all.

Above: “Flexible.”

Your body is a machine – the best darn machine on the planet. But like other machines, the parts will eventually wear out, even on a finely-tuned hot rod like Annika Sorenstam. All it takes is a little too much, a few too many…

Look at things from a different angle:

Instead of – “How much exercise can my body endure?”

Think – “How much (little?) exercise is required to get my performance and body from here to where I want to be?”

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