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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Martin

Train Smarter, Not Harder.

I was talking to one of my massage clients the other day about their gym training. They said 'I felt really strong today, I seemed to be able to lift more than usual and my muscles didn't hurt so much. Perhaps it's because I haven't done as much this week.' To which I basically had to agree. And I have been guilty of this in the past, particularly as a teenager. I was a swimmer and trained probably harder and more often than anyone else I swam with. I was a fairly good swimmer but not the fastest so I trained harder but I lacked speed. I had huge amounts of stamina and my level of fitness meant aerobically I recovered quickly.

It was probably more by accident that I realised my mistake. When at university I didn't have lots of people to train with the same so I spent a lot of time swimming by myself focusing on drills and technique. I then started to understand why I was doing the drills and so focused on using the drills to improve my technique. When I returned to training with a swim squad I continued to focus on my technique more and would only push the speed 2-3 times a week. Because I was fresher I could swim faster as well as being faster because my technique was better. As a result I managed to knock chunks off my front crawl times particularly. I carried this through in to all other aspects of my training spending a lot more time concentrating on technique.

These days it is also carried over into my Personal Training. Technique is everything not speed or weight those things will come if first you get the technique right. And you will be a lot less likely to get injured.

Two expressions come to mind:

‘Patience is a virtue.’

‘Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.’(Vince Lombardi)

As a swimmer the reason for spending so much time in the water training isn’t for fitness. You don’t need that level of fitness/endurance for a 100m race. What you need is to perfect your technique so that even under the pressure of racing you maintain the most efficient and effective technique.

The same applies to running and cycling and many other sports. You only need to train hard 2-3 times per week your other sessions should all be at lower intensity and all about technique. Learn the technique required, learn the drills, skills and exercises that will help you to achieve the best technique. Try to understand why you are doing the drill. As I mentioned last week specificity, your training should have a purpose.

A good coach or personal trainer will teach you the technique and any exercises to help you achieve that technique AND also explain the reasons and objectives.

The value of a good coach or personal trainer should not be underestimated in helping you to achieve your goals.

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