Part of growing stronger in fitness is breaking down your muscles so that they grow back stronger. In a wonderful way, our bodies adjust to the stress that we impose through physical exercise. Working at the gym, I see many people each day imposing the same stresses on their bodies. Sure, they may be practicing the principle of overload. But a realistic limitation unless someone is really pushing you.
Each week I teach a Sports Conditioning class on Wednesday mornings from 6:30-7:15. It’s very similar to the ever-popular boot camps you see everywhere. But my focus is more on cardiovascular training and functional interval work rather than a random variety of core exercise of boot camps. My clientele has evolved into a group of attendees that are looking for performance increases, which comes from a high level of challenge.
I can challenge every person in that class on a performance level because I’m faster and stronger than them. Actually, I can challenge every person except Todd. Todd is a two-time Ironman finisher and he continually kicks my butt on the track. To be honest, it gets pretty frustrating. Todd just has a motor that operates at one notch above mine. So as an instructor, I’m planning and executing my class with the understanding that my performance will challenge the participants, and Todd’s performance will challenge me.
I’m used to being the best at athletics, or at least at the top. Having Todd push me each Wednesday when we’re on the track has certainly improved my performance. Some days it’s hard to gear myself up knowing that I can’t beat him. But that challenge is essential for my training to continue and improve.
Do you have anyone that challenges you on a regular basis? Do you need someone to kick your butt on the track or in the weight room? With the right attitude, coming in second place will do more for you than always being on top.