Not all things that are popular are good. Sometimes they can the one of the worst things for you.
A good example is what just might be the world’s most popular workout strategy:
Working your f*cking ass off.
I personally fell for this strategy for nearly 2 decades. I grew up being told that hard work pays off and as long as you did what you were told then the rewards would come. Sadly this is not at all the case with getting in shape. Hard work, even really really hard work doesn’t always bare fruit.
The biggest reason why this is a terrible workout strategy is due to your finite capacity for stress. Simply put you can only work so hard and withstand so much stress. This goes for physical, mental and emotional stress.
The strategy of just working hard is like a chicken race against a train. You’re essentially attempting to see how much stress you can withstand before you either a) give up or b) crash which is what happens when you get hurt, burned out or lose motivation.
Relying on hard work for results can bring results, but only for so long. As long as you are within your capacity to handle the stress you’ll continue to gain results. This is often the case with a new workout program or exercise. Any time you do something new you’re just starting to use up some of your finite capacity for stress. This is why you can feel like you’re making progress whenever you do something new. Unfortunately you’ll eventually max out your capacity to work hard and you’re only hope is to let that go and start something new. Over time you essentially just become someone who keeps stopping and starting something new in order to progress in that initial beginner’s stage.
The more you strive to just work harder the more you increase your chances of one of either 2 outcomes. You’ll either work as hard as you can and you’ll then keep working hard to maintain a plateau or you’ll push too far and experience negative outcomes like injury and burn out. There is no happy ending to this strategy.
But fear not, there is a simple strategy which is far more effective and prevents all of the negatives of the first. That of course is the strategy of looking to work better rather than just harder. In other words, progression and more specifically technical progression.
Of course the hard work will still be there. You’ll still be pushing yourself very hard. You don’t have to worry about losing that hard-core image of being a beast or warrior in the gym.
The best news is that seeking progression by always asking what you’re working to improve will bring you results that far exceed those you can gain through blood sweat and tears. In some cases you can even gain at least 10-20x the results. Where as the strategy of just working hard is finite and very stressful, the strategy of progression is infinite and can even protect you against such stress. Not to mention it also fuels you with an endless supply of motivation to keep training.
So yes, hard work is great and it’s important but it’s like the fuel in your car’s gas tank. Just because you’re burning resources it doesn’t mean you’re getting where you want to go. Yes traveling the best road will burn fuel but chances are it will be far less and you’ll get to where you want to go much quicker.