By Dave Werner
In my Navy SEAL career my Teammates and I used to conduct long, tough workouts. At that time we really didn’t have weights or gym equipment so our workouts consisted of outdoor work such as running, swimming, obstacle course runs and lots of calisthenics. A typical calisthenics workout could take as long as 2 hours and include sets of 100 pushups, 100 burpees, 500 sit-ups, 500 flutter kicks, etc. We always totaled several thousand reps in a workout.
At the time, we thought this work was making us stronger and of course that kind of work does have some value – but strength building is not part of it.
Consider this, if you are able to do 500 sit ups without stopping, doing 1 sit-up is extremely easy. Doing an easy thing over and over is not the way you get stronger. What we were doing, in fact, was practicing being weak.
I bring this story up to illustrate a point, that I believe many people get wrong, which is that it’s important to align your training methods with your goals.
As an example, if you have a goal of running a mile in 6 minutes when it currently takes you 8 minutes, doing training runs of 6 – 10 miles, three times per week is not going to make you faster. In order to run faster, you have to practice running faster, starting with shorter distances like 100 meters and 400 meters to build your speed. Then you can increase distance while maintaining your new speed.
This is true for all training. To reach a specific goal, we must consider our current abilities, consider what changes are needed in order to reach our goal, come up with a training plan to cause those changes, and then follow the plan. It’s also necessary to continuously monitor our progress and adjust the plan as needed.
This approach is needed to reach any training goal, and probably any goal in life.
These principles guide how I coach. We will begin any training program by assessing your current abilities, discussing your goals, and what methods will best serve your needs, what equipment is available, and what time frame is required. All of this forms the basis for each personal training program I develop.