3 min read

Training To Failure

Training To Failure

Training to Fail is more accurate.

New torture device arrived a few days ago. Been a minute since I made a serious attempt to get back into shape, but I've started on a new diabetes management system that includes regular coaching. It starts in a month, but I like to get ahead of things.

Exercise has been tricky for me, because I really fucking hate it. I do martial arts. Don't need to exercise. Covid truly killed that for me, but it was getting harder and harder to train before that. At least now I know the pain was neuropathy, not just getting older. Even so, my dislike for exercise now has a good few years of pain reinforcement to make it even harder to get back on track.

Saw the above rack for sale around $90. I was thinking of building an outdoor rig to work on, but at that price? So much easier to workout when it's right next to my writing desk.

My plan is to get back on L-sits, mixed with overhead pulling work. Eventually back to handstand and cartwheel work. I remembered that L-sit where the thing that started my journey to being in amazing shape, so going back to them seemed like the right thing to do.

Figured a straightforward plan was to start with a bent leg, maybe 30 seconds at a time.

Yeah. Changed that to 10 seconds, and a straight hang.

Which is where I reminded myself that I was being an idiot, and falling back on old training. Train to failure was the old wisdom. Go until you can't, and eventually you can go longer and longer. Fastest and best way to get ahead!

Horseshit. I mean, if that works for you? Go for it. Thing is, getting more athletic is a mental process for most of us, as much as it is a physical process. And that mental side is a truly special beast to deal with. Lots of good science these days that tell us our perceptions, even our thoughts, are guided by a mental model of what our brain tells us. And our brain wants things to be predictable.

To keep it simple and relevant, our brains are incredibly good at learning. Problem is that we don't have conscious control of what our brain learns. With exercise, if we train til we hurt too much and have to stop, what our brain learns is that we suck and training hurts. Lots of ways to overcome this, because the brain is learning more than one thing at a time, and our other activities can imprint different and stronger lessons, but for some of us? The "FAIL" message is the one our brain learns the most. It's one of the reasons we stop exercising. I'd argue that it's a reason many people never adapt to playing sports or exercising at all. They find actual reward in other things, so the brain pushes them in those.

Anyway, back to me. Two days of pushing myself to the limit, trying to hit ten seconds, and just managing it? Weird how I found the little reminder to jump on the device was getting quieter and quieter in my mind.

It wasn't until falling asleep last night that I remembered the important lesson we taught at Valkyrie: Stop when things get hard. Stop when your body and mind are still enjoying the play. Stop before it becomes work. Now, most folks who train in sports are probably going to read that and be horrified, and imagine how badly that would work out. It would indeed be bad for them. But for folk who've never learned the long-term reward of pushing through the rough stuff? Play, and easy play, is key. It's how the brain learns that moving is enjoyable. Over time, the students found themselves going farther, doing more, getting stronger...and enjoying the play of pushing themselves up to and past their limits. Play worked, and we got results from it.

For me? I can do ten seconds, but from this point on, I'm gonna aim for three seconds. Maybe more sessions a day, but I'm not going to push until I'm getting to the point where it seems easy.

Start with success and teach myself that a rewarding feeling of winning results from hitting the machine.

Wanna try some L-sits? Here's a great video on starting: https://youtu.be/ynQZZeLXJXY?si=8GT46_4Aslq7oB-n