Learn to listen to your body: Key to building strength and endurance
Back in the 1970s the first US based research on factors impacting sports performance emerged. When the running boom was in its early stages, a few psychologists began trying to figure out what elite runners did during training and competing that might apply to the rest of us.
In those days I was involved in competitive running and could easily relate to what the research revealed.
Contrary to expectations, research showed elite runners had developed a keen sense of exactly what was happening in their bodies at any moment during training and racing. In short, they had a powerful ability to listen to their bodies and be aware of how they felt moment to moment.
To the general public this idea was insane. They assumed that if you were running a 10K at high speed, the runner would do anything to take their mind off the pain of the moment.
All the spectator public saw was the extreme exertion by the athletes. Runners seemed to be in pain when they went all out. How could they not want to take their minds off the suffering of the moment?
This erroneous notion spread easily. I noticed that some recreational runners began wearing headsets to. Music or inspirational messages could drown out the sensation of running. After all, the purpose was to get the mileage in with the least awareness of physical aggravation.
Even before reading the research, I knew that ignoring feedback from your body during workouts was complete rubbish.
Feedback from your body is the only way you have any ability to learn how to perform better!!!
The same is true for lifting weights and building strength.
The only way to learn how to recruit strength is to be consciously aware of what your muscles are doing at any given moment. If you zone out and ignore what your bod is telling you, the result is net zero on the learning curve.
These days I observe people in the gym with headphones who flop and thrash through workouts. I have also been in gyms where lifters seem to pay a lot of attention to the music being played in the background.
One person told me, I cant get really revved up without music. My (unspoken) response was why are you here? You could be at home listening to music and not have to bother with this weightlifting sh*t.
Over time I have come to believe that the more distraction that occurs during a workout, the less progress. I focus only on what I am doing and have no idea what music is playing or what some dork instructor may be yelling.
Anyone serious about making the jump from novice to intermediate performer needs all the focus they can muster.
Learning how to focus on what is occurring in your body during training is the only way I know of that will enable someone to make the extremely difficult move from intermediate to advanced. Without a deep introspective skill, there is zero chance for anyone to progress from advanced to elite performance.
The bottom line is that to learn how to perform at your best, you must learn how to control your body in the optimal manner at any given moment. There is no app for that.
Only by understanding and refining your personal feedback loops that exist under your own skin will you ever be able to think seriously about reaching your own personal limits.
Distractions can undercut any chance you have of developing precise focus. Your head must be into what you are doing 100% or you will never be able to clearly understand the physical feelings you are experiencing.