Chances are that if you are reading this, then you are probably in a very similar situation to me. I am not a professional athlete nor am I an amateur athlete. I work full time in a very demanding industry and I also have a family. This really leaves little time in the day for training time. I am sure that you, like me, have read plenty of “training articles”, seen “inspirational memes”, and have read “fitness posts” by celebrated gurus talking about how easy it is to train and blah blah blah. Yeah, some of that stuff makes me sick to my stomach too.
If your career is in the “fitness industry” it is infinitely easier to train and maintain top condition because basically that is your livelihood and there is nothing wrong with that. If you are like me and working 8+ hours a day then you do not have the luxury of time to waste when you get to the gym, dojo, etc. Each and every training session must count. Then that poses the question, how can both you and I make the most of each training session?
This is a question that I ask myself every time before I set foot into the gym or the dojo. Since transitioning from powerlifting, my time with the weights has decreased immensely and a lot of that time has been replaced with Jiu Jitsu and now kickboxing. I get up early in the morning to hit the weights and can do this 3 times a week now. I get about a good 45 minutes per session. Yeah, that really is not a lot of time to train weights. There are some principles that I follow to maximize that time:
For the Gym:
* Always have a plan: I never walk into the weight room without a specific plan of what I am going to do that day. (I also usually have a back-up plan.) I write my plan on paper for that day and stick to it.
* Never bench on Mondays: This should be self explanatory, because Monday is “international bench day.” With 45 minutes to spare to hit the weights, waiting on a bench or a machine just isn’t an option. To avoid this I’ll squat on Mondays instead (most people hate squatting anyway).
* Limit rest between sets: Again not having the luxury of a lot of time, I limit the rest periods between sets. Yes this usually means that I am working with lighter weights so to offset that, I will perform higher repetitions.
* The gym is not a coffee shop: I will remain cordial but I am not going to get into a debate or long drawn out conversation at the gym. 5 minutes could potentially be 4 sets of an exercise that could be completed. Who has time to waste?
* Listening to your body: If an exercise is irritating an injury or causing unnecessary pain, then I will just skip that one and move on to the next one.
So this is what I think about when I am walking into the gym when most people are still nicely tucked in their comfy beds, snoring away (maybe I am a little jealous).
For the Dojo:
The same principles that I have listed above apply to when I am training in the dojo as well as some others.
* Set training goals: It was suggested to me that every training session that I go to that I should have at least one goal and that goal could be simple. For instance, today’s goal could be to work on the “scissor sweep” during live rolling or “the arm bar.” Drilling is cool and it is important but without learning how to apply that in a “real” situation then it doesn’t really work well.
* Push yourself: When I am on the mat, I have 1 hour from start to finish. That is it. 1 hour. That is not a lot of time so even during the times that I am feeling fatigued, I have to push myself to at least do 1 more roll. This is hard for me and has taken me time to build up conditioning to do so. It is easy to sit on the side and just watch but when I do that, I am not learning anything or getting any better.
* Ask questions: This can apply to anything in life, if you do not understand something then raise your hand or speak up and say that you do not understand it. For me being a bigger guy with a shorter stockier body type, I have to constantly ask questions about better way to perform movements just on the basis of my body type alone. Another reason to ask questions is to understand the concept behind the movement. Get to know the “why.”
* Be humble or get humbled: This is funny and true. I am one of the biggest and strongest guys where I train (thank you powerlifting) and I have been submitted more times that I can count by guys smaller and weaker than me. In Jiu Jitsu, specifically there is so much to learn and so many variables that it is easy to learn but almost impossible to master. So if you or I waltz into the gym thinking that we are bad ass, there is a 150 lb BJJ guru in there that will easily roll our ass up. It happens everyday.
Adding to the whole humility piece is the sportsmanship part of Jiu Jitsu. Each match is started with respect and ends with respect. Most of the time you are thanking your training partner or opponent after a match. You are thanking them because they have helped you to become better. This is the demonstration of humility or humility in action.
* Respect: This will allow you to get the most out of your training. How? Well, no one wants to train or work with an asshole. Your instructor/coach/master/professor has a wealth of knowledge that he has shared with his students and you. They have laid the foundation of which you are embarking upon your journey. Not only do they deserve your respect but also your team mates who have been there prior to you being there. When you give respect then you will receive respect. This will help to build a bond with your training partners and coach ensuring that they will continue to help you and hold you accountable so that you can be the best that you can be.
For the Family:
* Make time for family: This is very simple. If you do not make time for your family or include them in your activities, you will find yourself without a family. Discuss your training schedule with your significant other and allow them to make suggestions, ask questions and agree to it. It is important that your significant other is involved in your decision making process regarding your training. If you do not want them involved then you might want to drop them.
* Keep your weekends open: Saturday and Sunday are two days during the week that most likely you will not be working so instead of hitting the gym, go to the park or go shopping with the family. Hell, even go as far as setting a family day for one of those days. If you don’t then you run the risk of hurting your family through ignorance and neglect. Don’t be that person.
* Family first: You only get 1 family. Now this does not mean that you have to be a door mat to anyone and stop training. This means that your child’s doctors appointment is more important than a noon training session. Again if your family is not a priority to you then you will find yourself alone.
* Be clear about how you feel: My goal is to never leave the house angry and without saying I love you to my wife and children. Life is short and precious and could be over at any moment and the last thing that I would want my family to hear is me ranting and raving over some stupid bullshit. I want them to always know that I love them so my words and my actions have to always add up.
When it comes to Jiu Jitsu, I am just getting started on my journey. So do not expect me to write an article or blog about how to be great at Jiu Jitsu anytime soon. I do know about training and how to approach training and everything I have written here is how I am approaching my training. I like to think that I am making progress and getting better but like I have mentioned previously every damn time I think that I am doing good, I find myself tapping. Yeah BJJ is a very frustrating endeavor and it takes a great deal of commitment to get good (like anything else).
There is always a way to make the most out of your training even if you have a full life. The question I ask myself is “how much does this mean to me?”