Why Do You Train?

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Why do you train? What’s it all for? Is it just so you can look good naked? Is it to impress people?

What’s the point? Is it to feel better about yourself? Is it so others feel better about you? Is it so you can snag the perfect partner? Is it freedom? Is it fear of getting old and dying?

Perhaps all of those things.

But ultimately, in a modern world where you are not forced to train to survive, you must train to thrive.

In a more general sense, training is usually an introductory skill acquisition period where you have both limited responsibility and limited impact – both negative and positive. The stakes are generally low(er). This provides a sort of “greenhouse” environment where you are sheltered from extremes so you can grow in a more optimized environment and eventually be strong enough to face all the difficulties of an unsheltered and often brutally competitive environment.

So why do we train physical disciplines? If we apply the same rationale, we train in protected environments (hopefully) under the guidance of a great teacher and coach so we are protected from excessive stressors, injuries, and damage while we build up the necessary skills and strength we need to function successfully in an unprotected, unpredictable environment.

Training is always about preparation for anticipated interactions in the future. Sales training is about preparing the employee for anticipated sales interactions with potential clients. Gymnastics training is about preparing the gymnasts for future interactions with various tools, and surfaces (and gravity!) in a competitive setting. Hockey is about preparing the players to interact with tools (hockey stick), objects (the puck, the goal), the environment (a confined space covered in ice), and other players.

Doing bicep curls in front of a mirror is about preparing to impress a girl at a bar on a Saturday night (or becoming Mr. Olympia) – to each his own. Each type of training varies based on the specific anticipated interactions, but the goal is always the same: to survive and thrive in the variable interactions we experience to achieve our desired outcome.

 If your training does not help you interact better – with your own body, with others, with gravity, with objects, and with the environment – then you need to rethink your training and stop wasting time. 

Modern life has made physical training optional for survival (at least early in life). But it’s still mandatory to thrive.

So why do I train? I train to interact. I interact to survive and ultimately thrive.

But what is the nature of real interactions of any sort? They’re largely unpredictable, nuanced, and difficult. They don’t follow an exact script. They require intra- and post- adaptation so that the next interaction will be more effective.

If you’re not training to increase your ability to successfully interact in the world, you’re wasting your time.

Martial arts, dancing, parkour, gymnastics, team sports, individual sports, Olympic lifting – all of these are great ways to increase your ability to interact with your own body, with others, with gravity, with objects, and with the environment.

It follows that individual trouble areas which hinder your ability to interact should be a priority in your training. If you have excess body fat and metabolic syndrome, that’s probably your biggest limiting factor, and your training should focus on getting a better body composition and a body that is lighter and more agile.

If you look like a stick figure from a distance, you need to gain strength and size to increase your interaction potential. If you have a rusty tin man (or woman) for parents, you probably need to spend more time on mobility to increase your interaction potential.

If you’re scared of catching and throwing a ball and have the coordination of a three legged lizard in a snowstorm, then you need to spend more time practicing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Let’s not forget why we train. If you can apply these principles, you’ll look better, feel better, give better hugs, have more self-confidence, and be better in bed. Guaranteed.

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