T Nation

An Observation: Training Anomaly


A little background: I'm a Division 1A speed athlete, powerlifting state and national record holder, previously highly ranked endurance athlete, exercise science major at a top US university.

From my intense, but obviously limited training background and studies I have come to an interesting (to me at least) insight. While science can apparently explain many of the physiological adaptations of the human body, there is often discrepancies between an individual's training and his or her performance. For example even though an athlete is following a seemingly perfect protocol for his or her goals down to perfection, he or she isn't making the progress that is wanted. But on the other hand, when the same athlete isn't following such an intense program, or isnt following it so strictly, he or she often makes better progress.

Both from my experience and from talking to others this seems to be the case quite often. For example when I go out to parties one to two times a week for an extended period of time I find that my lifts and various performance indicators excel faster than if I wasn't going out and enjoying myself so much, while on the other hand when my life revolves solely around training my performance often suffers. And while the science indicates the intense ergolytic effects alcohol (and other drugs), the practical application of these isolated studies doesn't line up.

I feel that the psychological aspect of training and balance between one's training and enjoying life, relaxing, is of prime importance to an effective program. Why not write party nights into training, why not train hard the next day while thinking about the good night you just had and about how awesome life is. It seems to me that many of the top coaches around preach to stick to the plan all the time (save maybe a cheat meal or two a week), but I find both from my experience and from talking and observing some of the world top athletes that balance in life is as important as the training program itself to athletic or any physical success.

In my opinion, training should be fun (most of the time), and if it loses its fun it isn't worth it.. If training becomes one's life and it isn't enjoyable then its time to reevaluate.

I am interested in all your thoughts.


A little background: I'm a Division 1A speed athlete, powerlifting state and national record holder, previously highly ranked endurance athlete, exercise science major at a top Canada Internet provider.


Is this a joke?


I dont know why you think this would be a joke ...sorry for introducing myself and showing I have experience in the sports arena.


I dont know why you think this would be a joke ...sorry for introducing myself and showing I have experience in the sports arena.


Here's a drawing I made





What's the tl;dr version?

That wall of text just looks boring as hell


That's pretty


Don't worry, you always get a few pricks replying for no obvious reason.
Yes I can understand were your coming from however I think you do need to take this seriously most of the time for a standout physique.


I think a lot of it is when people are too dedicated they start to over analyze, especially in bodybuilding.

Oh, and the extra calories of beer.


I disagree. What you are talking about is highly personal though. I've lost friends due to my training. WHy? Because if I lose focus, even for a minute, I will stray off and I'll be tearing down what has taken me 14 months to build. Sure going out and getting fucked up is fun.... for some. Not for me though. THe only time I drink is when girls are involved. Otherwise I just feel pathetic.

When I look at people around me my age, I see people thinking just like you. THey try and mix partying and lifting into one. That's awesome. BUt then I look at people in their thirties who had the same mindset as you. They are "happily married" and on their way to type two diabetes. My point is that I'm not one of those people who just thinks in terms of twenty minutes down the road or tomorrow, I think twenty years down the road. I don't want that cliche lifestyle where you eventually slow down, (partying wise) and get settled with a family. I want to get strong and be successful. Partying has no positive influence on that. (Smoking Weed is a different story. I meant alcohol. I come from a family of alcoholics. Hence my reaction to booze.)


My point exactly. Training isn't always "fun". It's painful sometimes. There have been times where I feel like quitting just because it isn't fun. This is where the passionate and those who just appear to be passionate are divied. You are saying once lifting weights stops being fun, you are going to quit? You are well on your way to a cliche lifestyle my friend. Have fun with your optimal health/maintinance mode. Congratulations, you are joining the general population.


I can see what your saying Strength4Life, and agree mostly with the situation you've presented. But, if you look at many of the top athletes its not an issue of self control, or an issue of sacrifice but a problem with having those sacrifices define who you are as a person. I agree that the average person needs much more discipline in the training arena than they currently display. But I think once you move further down the spectrum into elite athletes the emphasis on sacrifice and discipline can become counter-productive.

To clarify as well: by no means by partying do I mean going and and blacking out every time, or ever, but maybe having a few drinks. Its all relative, but even a few drinks is a far cry from what a coach would prescribe as an ideal program.


Its the warrior concept...party hard train harder. It's funny, I know some kids, one inparticular who partied his ass off, has slowed down quite a bit but still likes to drink and go out. Kids up at 445 everymorning to train and train his clients. Was a good Football player and is now a triathelon (sp) athlete. Ive never seen him struggle, he's the strongest guy per pound that I know.

On the other hand, I know guys that go out all the time and you can see it. You can see it in their face, their bodies, and even their attitudes. I dunno I guess it's what you make of it. I definatly go out and love to have a good time, I don't plan on stoping having fun so I can gain those 5 extra pounds or lose that extra 2% BF. That to me is something you do when you start settling down, move in with your girl and/or get married.

But then again It's not something I want right now. In college I plaid football and I slowed down on weedays, especially wens on(played on saturday), but at the same time I knew kids that partied the night before our games. I dunno really what to make of it, but my suggestion is to live life to its fullest. You really only get one! To some people they will read that and say that to them "fullest" is being in bed by 9 to the can be up at 5 to lift then eat then work then repeat. To some "fullest" and lifting dont even coincide with lifting.

But I do have one strong opinion, I cand stand the dicks that say "oh yeah well I am a hardcore lifter/bodybuilder and I turn heads when I walk by." Well good for you buddy, but just because I'm not as hardcore as you doesn't mean Im not hard core...AND also, I turn heads..and after the heads are turned I start a conversation..do you know why? becasue I have a personality which Ive helped establish from spending all that time out having fun, and not being as hardcore as you.


I'll agree with you to an extent.

I think psychological health is a totally underrated component in the chase for progress.

Occasionally, I'll have sessions where the weight I'm accustomed to just feels much lighter than usual. I get in the groove and set new PRs on every lift during that session. I'll get a 10-15 lb increase on my lifts out of no where.

It has only happened 3 times in the past 4 or 5 months, and when that type of day does come its awesome.

The only thing those 3 sessions had in common were my mood. Each of those 3 days I was in an exceptionally good mood. I had gotten great news from either work or school on each of those days. That's the only thing those days had in common. My diet and exercise regiment have stayed constant.

It's the only explanataion I can come up with, that being in good mood and healthy psychological state really does have a significant impact on training.

I think when you were talking about partying, you were alluding to the same thing. It's not the alcohol. Its the break from the same old same old, the fun time you spend with your friends and the excitement of a night on the town that contribute to your gains. If I have a lot of fun on a friday night, when training session on saturday afternoon rolls around and I'm in a better mood than I would have been if I had stayed in the night before, I'll get more out of my session.


Good thread guys...we should all have a good cry afterward because we're comfortable with our feelings :slight_smile:

Seriously though, this is why I recommend having a training partner that's like minded in terms of goals, lifestyle (eating/sleeping/training habits), and schedule as you. There's always someone there to push you when you're not having one of those "3 days in 4-5 months" type awesome ones Big A alluded to. I guarantee there will be 5 shitty days for every 1 great day in the gym and the strong will persevere to make gains. Weekends are time to recuperate and enjoy the extracurricular activities for me and most of the men on this board.

OP, I don't see the need to qualify yourself as anyone willing to lend an ear and respond genuinely would do so regardless.


Im sorry I thought this was an obvious troll, but you are just the most arrogant person around. Maybe deservedly though.

For this, I think its going to depend on the type of person/athlete. A highly motivated/dedicated athlete will often be over stressed, and overworked. They enjoy training intense, and put every bit of their life and energy into training. This sounds like you. In this case, sometimes when you think you are doing everything perfectly, you are just plain doing too much, and when you think you are slacking, thats when you are really doing things right. Remember, gains aren't made in the gym, they are made when you supercompensate.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the person/athlete that for whatever reason is pretty lazy and not very dedicated. They may have good genetic potential and have made it pretty far based on this. They will really excell though if they push harder, and get supermotivated and strict on things. This only works, because it is almost impossible for them to do too much, as they are predisposed to doing too little.

Two opposite ends of the spectrum, and most people fall somewhere in the middle. In my experience though, sometimes it works both ways for me. There have been times when ive done a ultra HFT program like pavel's program, and was able to progress really well, and the workouts felt great. And then there have been times when the same program just felt like crap, and I bailed out on it. Timing is important as well, in this case.

Interesting observation though. Dont think its necessarily an anomaly though.


well i appreciate the real responses. I apologize as coming across as very arrogant, I was just trying to point out that my observations would not be true of an overweight, undertrained, lazy athlete.

Anyway, I agree that it is a highly personal subject as to how much to rest, how much to relax and how often to focus all your time of training. Just though I'd point out what I had observed, sorry for coming across as an ass.


I disagree with your main point, respectfully of course. I personally find that the more pain the gym brings, the more progress I behold. Drinking makes me lose my focus, and my staple chicken/steak with rice quickly is absolved by chips and beer. Lifting days are encumbered by "not being fun enough". My training becomes feeble and lifts no longer carry that certain purpose of moving this heavy foreign object forward, and lifting this heavier object next week.

I look forward to the pain, the restraint from what most call "normal" life. The more pain, the more I progress is how I see it. I have no desire to pursue a lifestyle that will hinder my progress. In a way, I guess this is my so called version of fun.