I recently saw a quote on the internet that said ‘Train Hard, But Smart Hard’. It took me a while to figure out what it meant. But once I fully understood it, it made total sense.
As I am a canoe slalom athlete, I have heard people saying that the only way to get better at something, is through hard work. That is true, to some extent. Let me put this in perspective. One person is training seven days a week, three gym sessions a day, hoping the get stronger fast. This is the hard worker, they think that the more you train, the better you will become. The second individual trains 5 days a week, and taking 2 day rest in the week. The rest doesn’t have to be the weekend, at that won’t be as efficient. They give their muscles time to recover and grow. If you give your muscles no rest, you increase the chances of an injury significantly. If you are an athlete, that is the worst thing that can happen. This was a very simple example of what it means to work smart hard.
Now let me give you three more ways you can decide if you are working smart, or just hard!
You are cutting down your sleep to train
If you are cutting down your sleep to train, I admire your dedication. However, if your main goal is to grown bigger muscles, and become a bodybuilder. This is a super bad thing to do. ‘Why’ you might be asking. Most of the muscle-building and beneficial hormones are released during deep sleep and REM (rapid eye movement) stages of sleep. Most non-sleep deprived individuals reach about 4-5 REM periods in a night. That means less muscles grow in the night.
Lifting too much weight
Lifting too much weight could become a huge problem, if it becomes an injury. The main reason people are putting more and more weight in the gym, is so they become bigger and stronger faster. Don’t do this. Lifting more weight than you can has been shown to be bad for your muscles and joints. You have to slowly build it up. Do not rush it.
Eating junk food
So you want to get stronger and better, but love junk food? You might as well stop now, because to grow muscles you need to make the right food choices. Going straight to McDonald’s after a gym. That high oil food is not going to help you recover. Go home and make something that is high carb, high protein. If you can’t, have a protein shake!
The bottom line is that if you want to get good at something, work smart hard, not just hard!